Nachiya Lacquerware Kyoto
Nachiya Lacquerware Kyoto
Nachiya Lacquerware Kyoto sells modern and traditional style lacquerware. Combining modern science with traditional know-how and techniques, they produce stylish pieces that stand up to the rigours of everyday life.
In the early nineties, Nachiya participated in a joint-development project, inventing a new type of lacquer-MR Lacquer. Their special line of MR Lacquer pieces are well-suited for modern lifestyles-dishwasher friendly and don’t scratch as easily.
Nachiya sells a broad range of modern and traditional style lacquerware pieces. Bowls, cups, and trays are but a few of the pieces perfect for household use or decorating your home with a unique Japanese feeling of serenity and beauty. Choose from a great selection of modern and traditional style pieces which are all handmade in Japan.
Modern Style Pieces
Through its joint research & development project, Nachiya developed a new type of lacquer referred to as MR Lacquer. This is a more durable and pure form of lacquer they have used to create their line of modern style pieces, suited for modern everyday lifestyles. This new line of MR Lacquer pieces retain an ageless quality of elegance and beauty while functional for everyday use-dishwasher friendly.
Traditional Style Pieces
Traditional style lacquerware is great for decorating the interior of your home. Of course you can also use pieces for eating, serving etc. but you must take extra care when washing and ensuring you don’t allow steel utensils such as forks, knives and forks to come in contact with the surface on a regular basis.
Lacquerware are pieces of wood or other materials coated with multiple layers of lacquer-natural sap taken from trees. The sap is turned into lacquer and applied as a coating to pieces, giving them a unique smooth and elegant sheen.
Lacquer is referred to as urushi 漆 in Japanese, and has been practiced by craftsmen for many generations. The base of most lacquerware pieces is made of wood but other materials such as bamboo is also used. The process for making lacquerware is meticulous and quite time consuming. The painstaking process includes cultivating lacquer tree sap and arduous task of applying multiple layers of lacquer to a single piece.
Where does lacquer come from?
Much like maple syrup oozing out from a maple tree, lacquer comes from lacquer trees. Sap from lacquer trees naturally flows out when say one of its twigs is broken.
Now-a-days, lacquer trees are grown in lacquer tree plantations. Cuts in the tree are made, causing the sap to naturally flow out. As you see below, the sap is drawn from multiple cuts. It takes 10-15 years before lacquer trees yield lacquer sap and one tree only produces about 100-300 g. Nachiya only uses 100% pure lacquer as well, making it a very ecological product. The process of extracting the sap is very time consuming and painstaking. This is just one step of many in whole lacquer process.
Lacquer feels light and smooth to the touch but durable to withstand the rigours of daily living. It allows you to hold hot things in the palm of your hand without burning yourself and retain the heat of its contents.
Traditional know-how mixed in with modern scientific methods allow pieces to retain a traditional sense of style and elegance, yet embody a uniquely modern Japanese sophistication
What really impresses me about Nachiya is their ability to innovate and bring their pieces in line with our modern lifestyles, whereas other Japanese lacquerware producers seem to have let their storied traditions blind their way forward.
While using traditional know-how, Nachiya has been able to retain a traditional feel to its its pieces and yet create pieces to fit our everyday lives. Their MR Lacquerware was designed specifically for dishwashers in mind, allowing you to enjoy its lacquerware without having to sacrifice convenience.
In its liquid form the natural sap is actually poisonous. The risk posed when working with lacquer sap only enhanced the esteem of lacquer craftsman and showed how highly skilled one needed to be to work with it. Once dry, lacquered pieces are innocuous to touch, leaving only an elegant sheen.
Lacquer has been used in Japan for centuries. In its liquid form it was poisonous to touch but posed no danger once dried. This is why only the very skilled tended to work with lacquer. The unique sheen produced by various lacquer techniques created a type of elegant style sought after by the emperor and his imperial court among other individuals of the upper classes.
Beginnings of Lacquerware
Similar to the development of other traditional crafts and industrial arts in Kyoto, lacquerware grew into a highly refined and elegant art. Originating in the 8th century, many techniques appear to have developed between the 8th-12th centuries, passed down from generation to generation. Even today, many of these traditional techniques are are still used by Japanese lacquerware craftsmen.
Kyoto-Cultural Capital of Japan
Members of both the imperial court and upper-class samurai enjoyed extravagant lifestyles based upon a high level of aesthetics. To satisfy their particular tastes they usually employed master craftsman. To a large degree, many artisans from across Japan flocked to the capital, hoping to enter into the graces of these men of position and wealth. Whole areas of Kyoto became known for high quality arts and crafts. As a result, Kyoto became known as the cultural capital of Japan.
Laquerware became one of the arts and crafts that grew and took shape in Kyoto. Nachiya doesn’t actually have a long and storied lineage compared to some of the other lacquerware shops in Kyoto and instead of restricting itself to Kyoto, it enlists craftsman from different parts of Japan, drawing on a broader range of skills, know-how and creativity. The result is a broader variety of pieces imbued with both modern and traditional elements, designed with beauty and functionality in mind.