Art Kagawa

Traditional ‘Urushi’ Lacquer Art of Sanuki & Lacquering Lessons : Sanuki Lacquer Art Museum (Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture)

‘Urushi’ lacquering is a traditional art-form in Kagawa. The area developed its own individual techniques and style of lacquer art in the final years of the Edo period (1603~1867) and still continues to produce many talented lacquer artists to this day.

A Lesson in Lacquering Chopsticks

The museum is located in a quiet residential area in the center of Takamatsu City. Here, visitors can take a lesson in lacquering chopsticks, chopstick stands and small bowls, and also in lacquerware carving. For this article I had a chopsticks lacquering lesson. The museum supplies you with everything you need for the lesson, so you don’t need to bring anything.

The first step is to choose your chopsticks from a wide array of colorful possibilities. It was fun to try and find the best set for me among all the choices! It was quite difficult to decide on a particular set, but I managed to find one that felt good!

These chopsticks were painted by the teacher. The fine detailing is really impressive and captivating. As the chopsticks are made of Japanese cherry birch, which is a very hard kind of wood that does not chip easily, they will be with you for many years. Apparently, a lot of people give these chopsticks to that someone special.

Deciding Pattern & Color

After selecting your chopsticks, you decide on their pattern and color. The teacher gives valuable advice and you can also use their chopsticks for inspiration.

I decided on my pattern and got on to the painting right away. You can see in the picture above that I was focusing hard. Lacquering is very fine and delicate work, so I was a bit nervous at first, but my teacher said, ”Just find a place to begin, and the rest will come naturally.” The lacquer itself is poisonous in its liquid form, so I was careful not to touch it while working on my chopsticks.

The lacquering took about an hour at a steady pace of painting and chit-chatting.

After you’ve finished, the chopsticks are placed in a drying box for about a week to completely dry. You can have your finished chopsticks shipped to you, so visitors from all over the country are welcome to come and try!

My Very Own Lacquered Chopsticks

These are my painted chopsticks! They are pretty and colorful and I’m sure they will make a delightful addition to the dining table at home.

For this article, I only did a chopsticks lacquering lesson, but the museum also has a permanent display of other lacquerware and does regular exhibitions of modern Kagawa lacquer art, so you can come and experience its beauty any time! As a travel memory or a gift to a loved one – please come and paint your very own piece of lacquer art!

Sanuki Lacquerware Art Museum – Art lesson in lacquerware carving & painting
Address: 2017-4 Kamifukuokacho, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture
Price: Chopsticks lacquering 2,500 yen. Chopstick stand lacquering 1,000. Small lacquerware bowl carving 2,500 yen.
Open: Open on Mondays and the first Saturday of every month. (For other days, please make a reservation in advance (for at least 2 people))
Reservations: Call or e-mail Sanuki Lacquerware Art Museum directly.
Tel: 087-802-2010 (When the museum is open: 090-8286-0838)
E-mail: hiro-td@mf.pikara.ne.jp
Preparation: Nothing required.
Homepage: http://karokaro.ashita-sanuki.jp

Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Megumi Yamada

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Written by

Megumi Yamada

Megumi Yamada

Megumi Yamada Although I was born in Kagawa, after graduating high school I spent time in America, Kyoto, and East Timor, and now live in Kagawa again. I’m currently rediscovering the beauty of my hometown. I love to draw and take pictures.


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