#08
recycling / decorating
URUSHI LACQUERWARE
Japan
urushi ware:
Shikki or urushi ware (lacquer ware) is made of natural wood that has been carved and coated with multiple layers of urushu (lacquer), creating a texture which feels remarkably soft. It is also light, durable, and very comfortable to use. The luster that develops over time is one of the beautiful qualities of urushi ware.
Urushi ware is often regarded as something to be used on special occasions, however, with just a little ingenuity, it can also be be enjoyed on a daily basis. The lid of a urushi box can become a cheese plate, or you can turn the lid of a bowl upside down and use it to serve small desserts, nuts or snacks. A tray with a rim can also be used as a bed table.
Urushi ware is a traditional Japanese craft that is called ‘Japan’ overseas. The traditions of urushi ware, which have various characteristics throughout the regions of Japan, are still well preserved today. If you would like to incorporate it into your life, you could buy a new piece of urushi ware to commemorate a special occasion, or you could buy some pieces at an antique market for more casual, everyday use. It is worth noting that urushi ware made from natural materials is repairable and can be used for a long time. Therefore, urushi ware can not only enrich your daily life, you can rest assured that it can be used and repaired anytime.
a story from the antique market:
In old days, each family had a set of urushi ware as it was common to hold celebrations and annual events at home. But nowadays, with the diversification of dietary habits and the shift to nuclear families, there are fewer opportunities to use lacquer ware at home, so urushi ware is often left in storage for many years. This unused urushi ware is often bought by traders and sold at antique stores or markets. Also, large sets of urushi ware that were once used at ryotei (Japanese-style restaurants) and ryokan (Japanese-style inns), and are now no longer produced, are also sold at markets. So you can still find a lot of genuine urushi ware, that was made before the use of synthetic materials, at antique markets. An added benefit is that it can be purchased at a quite reasonable prices.

Recommended Antique Markets:
・Tenjin Antique Market @Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kyoto, Japan
・Kobo Market @To-ji temple, Kyoto, Japan
・Tomiokahachimangu Antique Market @Tomiokahachimangu Shrine, Koto, Tokyo, Japan
・Boro Ichi @Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan
base material:
Vessels made of natural wood have high heat retention and excellent insulation properties. Hot dishes do not get cold easily, and, even if you hold a bowl of hot soup in your hand, you will not feel the heat. You can tell if it a piece is made from natural wood or not by the grain of the base material, or if it floats in water. (Natural wood floats)
urushi:
Urushi is the sap of urushi trees, which contains urushiol as a main ingredient. It is an excellent natural material that can be used as a paint, base, protector, adhesive, and strengthening agent. Urushi also has antibacterial properties. An ancient wisdom, that has been handed down through generations and continues to this day, is that the traditional dishes eaten at New Year's are stored and served in stacked lacquer boxes.
Urushi, which makes the base material durable and beautiful, has widely been used since ancient times for a wide range of purposes; from daily items to national treasures. In Europe, it is said that the beauty of black urushi ware inspired the glossy black finish on pianos. It takes 10 to 15 years for a urushi tree to grow, and only 200ml of urushi can be harvested from a single tree. Unfortunately, Japan's self-sufficiency rate of urushiol-rich, high-quality lacquer is only around 3%. By donating 3,000 JPY to “URUSHI NEXT”, an NPO that connects urushi to new generations, you can support the planting and cultivation of a single urushi tree. www.urushinext.org/donation/

Read more about Urushi > KINTSUGI
care:
The surface of natural urushi ware* will turn white if it is suddenly filled with hot water or heated items like fried food. Urushi ware needs to be warmed in advance before you add hot food. (Please note, urushi ware that has turned white can be repainted with lacquer).
After washing, wipe off excess water with a cloth, leave it to dry, and then store away out from direct sunlight.

*There are two types of urushi ware: Genuine urushi ware is made of natural wood painted with natural lacquer; Synthetic urushi ware is made of plastic or compressed wood coated with resin.


Acknowledgements
We would like to express our profound gratitude to Yamakyu Japanware for their generous support and invaluable help.
(...)
(-)