Aizu Urushi Lacquerware

Aizu Urushi Lacquerware

Aizu Urushi Lacquerware has a very long history – predating lacquerware from Wajima or Tsushima. Aizu Lacquerware was originally produced in areas of Aizu that experience very heavy annual snowfall. The industry began to boom about 400 years ago - this development was initiated by feudal lord Gamo Ujisato’s endorsement of Aizu Lacquerware. From then onwards, techniques used in the production of Aizu Lacquerware were refined and Aizu Lacquerware became very famous in Japan.
 

You can make your paint your own design onto Aizu Lacquerware items, or even try painting with lacquer, in Aizu region.

Makie Painting Experience Workshops

Suzuzen (Aizu-Wakamatsu City)

Suzutake (Aizu-Wakamatsu City)

Bansho (Aizu-Wakamatsu City)

  • From 1,200 yen 
  • Irregular opening hours in winter
  • Website (Japanese)

Fukubun (Aizu-Wakamatsu City)

  • From 1,600 yen
  • Irregular opening hours
  • Must book in advance
  • Website (Japanese)

Shitsugei Tsunoda (Urabandai Area)

  • From 1,000 yen
  • They also have an experience where you can paint with real lacquer (From 10,000 yen)
  • Must book in advance
  • Website (Japanese)

Venue Details

Venue Details
Best SeasonAll Year
Related infoOpening hours, variety of lacquerware objects to paint, prices etc vary by workshop
Access Details
AccessVarious workshops concentrated around Aizu-Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture

Nearby

The World Glassware Hall
Outdoor Activities

Snowshoe Trekking

Blue sky, endlessly-fresh dancing powder snow. Come and enjoy this fascinating winter wonderland! The field covered with a marsh and bushes in summer, changes to a white snow field ideal for snowshoe trekking in winter. No skills or previous experience is necessary. You can enjoy the snow-covered world from the very day you start. Snowshoe trekking can even be enjoyed by those who are not athletic. You can walk on lakes or ponds. You can find the tracks of rabbits and squirrels in the forest. Let's enjoy a great variety of nature which can only be seen in winter in Urabandai.

The World Glassware Hall
Cultural Experiences

Mitsuishi Shrine (Three Stones Shrine)

The Mitsuishi Shrine (Three Stones Shrine) is located a short 10-minute walk from Tadami Station in Tadami Town. Ichinoiwa, Ninoiwa and Saniwa are the three large stones that have spritual significance.  Ichinoiwa (the first stone) is thought to improve intelligence, Ninoiwa (the second stone) is thought to improve eyesight, and Saniwa (the third stone) is thought to improve connections with others, particularly romantic love. The Saniwa is a popular place to visit for those who are hoping to get married someday. To reach the shrine there is a short hike through dense forest, so it is recommended that visitors wear shoes that are easy to walk in.

The World Glassware Hall
Outdoor Activities

Listel Ski Fantasia

Despite its modest size, Listel Ski Fantasia - located within the grounds of Hotel Listel Inawashiro - has been a FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup host since 1988, and was chosen as the mogul and aerial venue for the 2009 FIS Freestyle World Championship. Listel Ski Fantasia's main ski slope has an average gradient of 8 degrees, making it popular with beginners and family skiers. The "Kids' Land" ski area for children, onsite nursing rooms, and ski lessons available for children, make Listel Ski Fantasia a great choice for families.  

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Paint Your Own Akabeko
Arts & Crafts

Paint Your Own Akabeko

The akabeko legend started at Enzoji Temple in Yanaizu Town, in the Aizu region. The construction of this temple began in the year 807, but due to a huge earthquake at the end of the seventeenth century, repair work begun in 1617. It was during the reconstruction of the temple that the akabeko became a folk legend. It is said that moving the wood and other supplies necessary for the reconstruction work was incredibly difficult, because materials had to be transported from various villages upstream of Tadami River. The materials were heavy and the journey to the temple long. Cattle were used to transport materials, but many struggled to bear their loads. Then, out of nowhere, appeared a cow with a red coat. (It should be noted that, in the past, the word ‘red’ was used to describe the colour ‘brown’, so it is likely that it was a brown cow.) The red cow supported the other cows and helped the priests who were constructing the temple until it was completed. Then, it suddenly vanished. A number of statues of the cow were built inside the temple grounds so that the people of Yanaizu could express their gratitude to the akabeko. In the years following, there were a range of legends about the akabeko, with stories such as families who owned akabeko being rid of sickness upon stroking the cows. They continued to hold their status of bringers of good luck and strength. Families bought or made akabeko toys for their young children to play with. Akabeko Painting Experiences In recent history, the Aizu tradition of painting akabeko began. It is said that this tradition started as something to do for children visiting Aizu-Wakamatsu City as part of school trips. This was when the story of the Akabeko evolved once more, into its newest papier-mâché form. The stripes on the face and back of the papier-mâché Akabeko are said to represent strength and perseverance. There are a number of workshops in Aizu-Wakamatsu City where you can paint your own Akabeko. Most workshops offer the standard red, white, and black paint. These talismans for good health make very cute and light-weight souvenirs to take home for family and friends – or keep for yourself! Those who prefer to buy a ready-painted Akabeko will be able to find it at most souvenir shops.

Makie Painting at Suzutake Workshop
Arts & Crafts

Makie Painting at Suzutake Workshop

Suzutake workshop tours began in the 1950s as a way of providing families with a chance to learn about the history and artistry of lacquerware. Even today, visitors are able to actually see artisans at work at three key stages of the Aizu lacquerware making process: 1) applying a base layer of unrefined lacquer or astringent liquid to wood; 2) adding additional layers of lacquer in a desired style, and 3) adding hand-drawn delicate designs ('makie') using either colored lacquer or gold and silver power (a technique called 'Sunken gold makie'). Visitors can also take part in a makie-painting experience.

Makie Painting Lacquerware Experience at Suzuzen
Arts & Crafts

Makie Painting Lacquerware Experience at Suzuzen

Suzuzen was established in 1833 as a lacquerware wholesale shop. Not only can visitors see process of lacquerware being finished using gold and silver dusted designs called 'Makie', but visitors can also have the opportunity to design their own lacquered product using Makie design techniques, which is perfect to take home as a souvenir. Suzuzen is made up of 6 kura (Japanese-style warehouses), which have been renovated. The Suzuzen warehouses include a gallery featuring pieces by contemporary artists who use lacquer in their work, and a cafe which is open for lunch. English-language signs also make the history of lacquer in Aizu accessible for overseas visitors.

Chinkin Taiken (Sunken-Gold Design Experience)
Arts & Crafts

Chinkin Taiken (Sunken-Gold Design Experience)

The Tradition of Aizu lacquerware in Fukushima Prefecture has continued for 400 years. Try out creating a design on Aizu Lacquerware with a technique called Chinkin ("Sunken-gold") at Tsunoda Lacquer Art Studio. Sketch your design on tracing paper, and then mark it onto the lacqerware with a needle. Tsunoda san will help you fill the grooves created by your needle with gold and silver powder to create your design. Alternatively, try painting your own design on Aizu lacquerware at the studio. Either experience will create a great souvenir of your trip in Japan. These experiences take about an hour.

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