Lacquer Ware Succeeding Samurai Spirit
Words by Megumi Rokuhara
Kamakura, an ancient city of Samurais, has beautiful craftwork.
Have you ever heard the name of the city “Kamakura”?
Kamakura, located near Tokyo, is the birthplace of Japan’s first military government at the end of 12th century.
Kamakura is a popular destination for tourists who are fascinated by its historical elements and rich Samurai culture.
Kamakura-bori (Kamakura sculpture), a lacquered craftwork was born from such a unique culture.
Kamakura-bori has 800 years of history.
The origin of Kamakura-bori goes back to 800 years ago.
During the Kamakura era, craftsmen who made Buddhist altars began to make lacquer ware, being bored with the Zen influence of China.
Kamakura-bori features a mixture of Japanese botanical patterns and powerful, bold engravings.
The dark red color with overlaid lacquer is outstanding.
It sometimes takes more than a month for even a skilled craftsman to achieve such fine results.
Local craftsmen with the finest craftsmanship have pursued this arduous process for 800 years.
Significant lacquer ware created from dedicated work.
At Sansui-do, a store specializing in Kamakura-bori, the craftsmen first dry wooden pieces of katura tree, a basis for lacquering, for half a year.
After the drying process, they use dozens of chisels and engraving knives to carve patterns, and it then takes more than 10 steps to lacquer with natural resins.
The finished lacquer ware is lightweight and sturdy.
Although Kamakura-bori, with an elaborate design and an elegant glossy color, is often used as a special gift and home décor, it is also suitable for daily use.
Changing the style as time goes by.
The fascination from Kamakura-bori is its lustrous color and the smooth texture that gradually changes as people keep using it.
“ I want to make something that people can use comfortably.
An object in which they can enjoy seeing the color change, and I hope that they will like its design and the quality of the wooden base too,”
one craftsmen of Sansui-do says.
The designs and styles of the Kamakura-bori have changed over the years but old traditions are still inherited and practiced.
The craftsmen of Kamakura hope that people overseas will also enjoy the Japanese traditional masterpieces created in this ancient city.