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
Cultural Experiences

Tsukimigaoka Chomin Center

Tsukimigaoka Chomin Center (a town hall-turned-hotel which is only a 20-minute walk from Aizu Yanaizu Station) is known for their famous sauce katsudon lunch. This dish contains fried pork cutlet and a simple egg omelet on rice which is covered with a savory sauce that simply melts in your mouth. There are other places in Yanaizu that serve the katsudon dish as well, but according to local opinion, the katsudon at Yanaizu Chomin Center is hard to beat. Why not stop by and fill your stomach before taking in the other local sights? There are even some great shared hot spring baths, which can be enjoyed as day visit onsen. There are plenty of nearby attractions. Enjoy your time hiking or fishing or at the nearby Kiyoshi Saito Museum of Art or the beautiful and serene Enzoji Temple. Kiyoshi Saito Museum of Art houses works by esteemed woodblock artist Kiyoshi Saito and the beautiful works he created throughout his lifetime. At the Enzoji Temple experience tranquility and nature, also learn about the origin legend of the akabeko, the nodding red cow famous in the area. And only a 15-minute drive away you can look at the No. 1 Tadami River Bridge View Spot; this bridge offers a spectacular sight of the Tadami River and the surrounding nature.

The World Glassware Hall
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.

The World Glassware Hall
Cultural Experiences

Ride the Oza-Toro-Tembo Train

The Oza-Toro-Tembo Train is a limited-service sightseeing train which is operated during selected days of the peak tourist seasons. The train has three carriages - the oza carriage (which has a tatami-floor), the torokko (tram) carriage, and the tembo (observation deck) carriage. Stretch out and relax in the tatami carriage with its sunken kotatsu (heated table) in autumn, take in Aizu's nature and air from the tram carriage, and revel in the fantastic scenery that await you through the expansive windows of the observation deck carriage. The train runs along the Aizu Railway tracks, meaning you can hop off at various points to visit places such as Ouchi-juku (a 15 minute taxi ride from Yunokami Onsen Station), and To-no-Hetsuri Crags, among others. For information about when this train runs this year, please check out this link (Japanese).

The World Glassware Hall
Outdoor Activities

Mt. Bandai

Originally known as Iwahashi-yama, literally a rock ladder to the sky, the renamed Mt. Bandai is no less impressive. Often referred to as 'Aizu's Mt. Fuji', Mt. Bandai is one of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan, and has even been selected as one of the top 100 geographic landmarks in Japan. In 2011, the mountain was certified as a geopark, which is a unified area with geological heritage and international significance, as defined by UNESCO. There are seven climbing routes for Mt. Bandai, with the trail starting at the Happodai trailhead being the most popular, and easiest route. From the Happodai trailhead, the 3.5 km route takes around 2 hours to reach the summit. The various routes range from 2 to 4 hours and from 3 to 7 km. At Koubou Shimizu, one of the mountain stops, there are two shops where trekkers can buy drinks, snacks, and souvenirs, but please note that there is no accommodation available. For many Buddhist mountain fanatics, Mt. Bandai holds a place of great significance. Enichi-ji Temple, located on the southwestern foot of Mt. Bandai, is a popular temple to visit nearby. The mountains situated around the temple make for a serene vista where one can feel the power of nature. Enichi-ji Temple was founded one year after Mt. Bandai erupted, in 807 C.E.; in the past, some superstitious people believed there was a connection between the eruption and the temple’s founding... Interestingly, Mt. Bandai used to be shaped more like the famous Mt. Fuji, but after a volcanic eruption in 1888, the shape changed to what we see today. It is thanks to that eruption that the mountain gained its rugged, sharp look and the Urabandai area behind Mt. Bandai was created. For non-hikers, the Bandaisan Gold Line is a popular sightseeing road that leads up the southwestern side and offers brilliant vistas of the foliage, especially in autumn when the colors change.

You might also like

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.

Aizu Painted Candles Craft Experience
Arts & Crafts

Aizu Painted Candles Craft Experience

Aizu Erosoku (painted candles) are sumptuous items that were long-prized among samurai families. Delicate and vivid patterns such as chrysanthemums, plum blossoms, and peonies are painted onto candles made of natural Japan wax extracted from the fruits of lacquer trees. Each candle is still painstakingly painted one by one, and they serve as regal decorations in Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies and weddings. A candle painting experience is available at Ozawa Candle Shop (Reservation required).

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.

Aizu Hongo Pottery Workshops
Arts & Crafts

Aizu Hongo Pottery Workshops

A little-known treasure, Aizu Hongo pottery (known in Japanese as 'hongo-yaki') is the oldest type of pottery in the Tohoku region. Aizu Hongo pottery's history dates back to the Warring States Period (1467 – 1615), when Ujisato Gamo, leader of the Aizu clan, ordered renovations be made to Tsurugajo Castle. The production of ceramic tiles for the castle roof kick-started the tradition of making pottery in Aizu-Misato Town. During the early 1600s, Masayuki Hoshina (who founded the Matsudaira house) invited ceramic craftsmen to Aizu-Misato from Owari - a region famous for its pottery - in order to increase the skills of locals. It was from this time that Aizu Hongo-yaki production began in earnest. At the peak of its popularity, there were more than 100 potteries in the town. There are currently 13 left, which are centered around Setomachi in Aizu-Misato. The rich variety of wares produced from workshop to workshop is just one of the fascinating things about visiting the area. Aizu-Misato Town is also known for the area's unusual ability to produce both great-quality earthenware and delicate porcelain. Please enjoy taking a look around the various shops, workshops, and kilns, and try making pottery for yourself!

Top