JAPAN TRADITIONAL CRAFT AOYAMA SQUAR
Northern Honshu > Fukushima
It was the planting of lacquer trees promoted by a powerful local family during the Muromachi period (1392-1573) that led to the making of Aizu Nuri. Then, when Gamo Ujisato who hailed from present-day Shiga Prefecture arrived to head the Aizu clan in the Momoyama period (1573-1600), he brought skilled lacquerers to this northern region from Shiga. Their skills were disseminated and as a result of fostering the development of techniques in crafts using lacquer, Aizu soon became a production center for all kinds of lacquer ware.
Later, specialist maki-e decorators were brought in from Kyoto and the steady development of lacquer craft here resulted in special permission to export Aizu Nuri being granted by the Shogunate in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868). Production suffered around the unsettled period of the Meiji Restoration in 1868 but work soon returned to normal and heralded a golden age.
The various techniques employed and decorations using auspicious motifs favored by the Japanese are part of the delight of Aizu Nuri. Several techniques are of particular note. One called tetsusabi-nuri is decorated with tasteful motifs drawn in a rusty brown. Then there is kinmushikui-nuri which sports a pattern achieved by sprinkling rice husks over the wet surface of a piece of work. With kijiro-nuri the beauty of the grain of the wooden carcass is allowed to show through. Each technique is intelligently employed in the making of bowls, traditional stacking boxes, coasters and trays.