the meister

Oshima / 漆工芸大島

oshima : 見えない手間暇、ときを待つ

Mainly used in celebrations such as New Year's Day, lacquerwares were initially produced in practice to increase the strength of an ordinary woodware by applying lacquer to the surface of the wood. Consequently, the beauty of its exclusive property when used daily, becomes apparent. Thin yet hard. Tough but Flexible. In order to give the desired finish, putting together every sense of artisanship over an immense time is essential.



The origin of lacquerware : The Onsen town that poetry master loved / 芭蕉も愛した温泉地の名漆器

*"Yamanakaya Kikuha-teoraji Yunonihoi-- "*(With chrysanthemum unplucked, breathes the fragrance of a hot spring at *Yamanaka* spa). The haiku (traditional Japanese poetry) master Matsuo Basho who visited Yamanaka hot spring, composed the poem "The one could live longer by inhaling the senses of Yamanaka hot spring", in dedication to the local legend; "living 700 years from sipping the droplet of chrysanthemum". Perhaps the same goes for the lacquer wares; Yamanaka's lacquer continues to be favoured as Ishikawa prefecture's famed traditional craft even after 400 years. Oshima lacquer-workshop (Urushi Ko-bo Oshima) originates in crafting base wood for lacquerwares. In the present day, the workshop has promoted itself to a production supervisor, administrating each crafting process, whilst collaborating with a wide range of designers to venture new possibilities of the traditional lacquerware.

山中や 菊は手折らじ 湯の匂ひーー。かつて山中温泉を訪れた松尾芭蕉は、菊の露を飲んで700歳まで生きたという伝説を踏まえ「山中の湯ならその香りを吸っているだけで長生きできそうだ」と詠んだ。その香りを吸っているせいだろうか。安土桃山時代に生まれた山中漆器は、誕生から400年余りの時を経た今も、石川県が誇る伝統工芸品として愛されている。分業制でつくられる山中漆器の中で、木地師として創業した漆工房大島。現在は木地づくりからプロデューサー的な立場へと移行し、各工程のものづくりを束ね、さまざまなデザイナーとタッグを組み、伝統を受け継ぎながら漆器の新たな可能性を追求している。


"Yamanaka's Base Wood", the foundation of lacquerware. / 漆器の屋台骨「木地の山中」

Different varieties of lacquerwares in Ishikawa prefecture possess distinct characteristics according to where they are created. "*Wajima of paintwork*", "*Kanazawa of gold lacquer*" and finally "*Yamanaka of Woodwork*". The finish of the base-wood would not only determine the lacquer quality but is a vital element that defines usability. Yamanaka has successfully established its position as a top base-wood producer. *Tate-gi* (Vertical wood) cutting is Yamanaka's distinct processing method in which a raw wood is sliced into stiff round pieces. The slices are then put through different levels of grinding (rough, mid and the finish), using appropriate wheels and planes precisely. Predominantly, the most time-consuming process out of the entire production is the drying process. Each workshop possesses built-in boiler rooms to optimise drying efficiency. From day to night, the flame continues to burn to dry the water-rich, saturated woods. The drying process takes up to 2-3months before the materials are transferred to the next grinding process.



the reason why beauty and toughness / 美しきタフネス、その理由

A base layer is first applied to the base-wood and then dried before the mid and the top layer is applied. Lacquering process is very vulnerable to dust, and intense care is needed. his results in distinct atmosphere enwraps the operation. As we look in details, it becomes evident that each procedure in lacquering requires great time and care. A quote from one of the painters, "for one to be healthy, sophisticating only the looks is not enough. Base layers on lacquerwares resist ageing, ", reminds us of the ultimate toughness and versatility of well-enhanced lacquerware, is defined from each precise handwork form artisans.

数か月かけて完成した木地にはまず下地を施す。一層塗るたびに乾燥させ、下地の粉を少しずつ細かくしながら何層にも塗り重ねてゆく。その後の漆の工程も下塗り、中塗り、上塗りと何度も塗り重ねられる。漆塗りではわずかなほこりが舞うことも許されず、職人が一人静かに器と向き合い、他の工程とは異なる緊張感が張り詰める。 漆器づくりの工程を見ていると、見えない部分に膨大な時間と手間を掛けていることがよくわかる。塗師の一人が言った「健康であるためには外見を磨いても仕方がない。下地の役割は老いに負けない筋トレのような役割です」ということばを思い出す。工程ごとに異なる職人が丹念に手をかけることで、見事に鍛えあげられた漆器は、ハレの日に華を添えることはもちろん、毎日の食事に使ってもタフに寄り添える懐の深さをたたえている。