Fukui Lacquerware at the Urushi no Sato Kaikan

The beauty of Japanese lacquerware is famous throughout the world. It is said that 1,500 years ago, the artisans of Echizen repaired the 26th emperor’s crown using lacquer made from the sap of the Urushi tree and presented him with a traditional handmade bowl. Their work was of such excellence that it deeply impressed the emperor and he ordered the artisans to spread their craft throughout the country. This made Echizen one of the oldest production districts in Japan.

Visitors to Japan can explore the beauty and history of this ancient craft at the Echizen Urushi no Sato Kaikan, or Echizen Lacquerware Traditional Industry Hall in Sabae City. A shinkansen ride away from Tokyo, Sabae is located in the Fukui Prefecture of Japan, an area which has generations of knowledge contained within its handicrafts. Even today, this area continues its tradition of supplying high quality lacquer work to the world.

Fukui Lacquerware at the Urushi no Sato Kaikan
Fukui Lacquerware at the Urushi no Sato Kaikan

Visitors can experience firsthand the joy of using their hands to create a thing of beauty here. Urushi no Sato Kaikan offers three different workshops of drawing, carving, and applying lacquer. In addition to joining these workshops, visitors can also go to the gallery and see the many types of objects that are made with the local techniques. Japanese lacquerware are usually small objects like mirrors, cups, and utensils. However, this decorative technique is also expressed in the architecture.

Fukui Lacquerware at the Urushi no Sato Kaikan

One of the main attractions at the hall are the two festival vehicles. The larger one is over four meters in length and the smaller is nearly two meters. Finished in 2012, these vehicles are entirely made from local wood and using carving techniques that were developed in the area more than 1500 years ago. It incorporates special techniques of applying cloth as reinforcement to the wooden base of the vehicle. It is finished using the lacquer techniques that have been part of this area for generations and painted with traditional Japanese motifs. These pieces of art are considered priceless as they embody the knowledge of carving, drawing and lacquer painting of all the local craftsmen.

Fukui Lacquerware at the Urushi no Sato Kaikan
Fukui Lacquerware at the Urushi no Sato Kaikan

Visitors can also go to the tearoom to see how the lacquer techniques also incorporated itself in the vernacular architecture of the area. As the lacquer is mold-proof, it is an excellent building material. There is also a separate Japanese room with ceilings tiles made from lacquer, each with its own unique motif of nature.

Fukui Lacquerware at the Urushi no Sato Kaikan

The artisan’s ateliers are also open to the public at particular times. Here, visitors can see the artisans at work creating masterpieces. Each piece requires hours of careful attention and each artisan has spent their lifetime perfecting their work. Echizen lacquer work was one of the first crafts that was divided into a production line, the artisans for carving, drawing, and lacquer being specialized in their one field. However, they all come together to create a single piece of work.

The Urushi no Sato Kaikan is a must-visit if you are interested in how local handicrafts still thrive in a mechanized world. The artisans of this area have inherited and celebrate traditions that cannot be seen elsewhere.

Facility Name
Urushinosatokaikan
Address
Fukui Pref. Sabaeshi Nishibukurochou 40-1-2
Phone
0778652727
Business hours
9-17 (experience 10-16)
Regular holiday
Fourth Tuesday (the next day in the case of a public holiday)
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Echizenshikkidentosangyokaikan
Address
Fukui Pref. Sabaeshi Nishibukurochou 40-1-2
Information Sources:

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    Urushinosatokaikan

    Gym/Facility for training camp
    Fukui Pref. Sabaeshi Nishibukurochou 40-1-2
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    Echizenshikkidentosangyokaikan

    Refuge
    Fukui Pref. Sabaeshi Nishibukurochou 40-1-2
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