Takaoka Lacquer Ware
This lacquer craft started at the beginning of the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the lord of the Kaga clan wielding power over the Hokuriku region built Takaoka castle in what is now Takaoka City. It was then that lacquerers began making all manners of household goods as well as chests and lacquered items of armor and weaponry.
Later the Chinese lacquering techniques of tsuishu and tsuikoku were introduced and techniques appeared using a number of colored lacquers and deep relief carving to produce a three-dimensional effect, and such wares as sabi-e using a grinding power mixed with the natural lacquer, raden using iridescent shell, and zonsei which is a colorful style with linear decorations, were all produced. Gradually with the ascendancy of the merchant classes, Takaoka Shikki became thoroughly established and flourished, and it was almost inevitable that an encyclopedic range of local lacquering techniques were used to produce the flamboyant decorations for the floats drawn in procession during Takaoka's own festival.
Cultivated by its long history, the most representative of Takaoka Shikki skills have all been kept alive. There is yuusuke-nuri done in the sabi-e technique with beautiful stones set in a ground of black lacquer, which has hints of red and green coloring. Then there is chokoku-nuri, the deep relief and multicolored ware that looks so three-dimensional. And then there is the glittering aogai-nuri using the rainbow effects of the inside of abalone and turban shells to produce flower and bird motifs or scenes of nature set into the lacquer ground. All are masterpieces of technique and design, and are part of the rich repertoire of styles used in the making of trays, boxes and other interior items.
A representative technique of this lacquerware tradition is "yusuke-nuri" which features a deep red base decorated with gems and stones, and "sabie" illustrated decorations. Other techniques include "chokoku-nuri" which uses a variety of colored lacquers to create three-dimensional designs, and "aogai-nuri" which uses abalone, great green turban shells, and other shells that have a multicolored shimmering quality to depict landscapes, flowers, and birds. How it is made
How to make
Takaoka shikki has three major styles: "yusuke-nuri", "chokoku-nuri", and "aogai-nuri". The wood that forms the core of the pieces is formed through joinery, bending, and lathe work, then finished with one of the lacquer techniques mentioned. The solid base coats and middle coats are first applied, followed by highly skilled topcoat application to create Takaoka shikki.