Aizu Urushi Tour (Tema Hima Utsuwa Tabi) English Guide

投稿日:2019年1月3日(木) カテゴリ:テマヒマうつわ旅ニュース

Anyone interested in seeing Japanese traditional crafts created firsthand should include a tour to Aizu-Wakamatsu city to see how lacquerware is made. As an introduction to inflate the image of the tour, This five-minute video gives you a small taste of the amazing attention of detail these artisans give to every piece they create. Aizu-Wakamatsu station is about a 3 hour train ride (including Shinkansen and local trains) from Tokyo Station.

【Glossary & Basic Knowledge about Urushi】

Japanese lacquerware “Shikki” is made from wood and “Urushi” sap, it is an organic and ecological product that has been used since ancient times. For that reason, we want to use the word “Urushi” and “Shikki”, not lacquer and lacquerware, to distinguish it from the chemical paint. So, please remember these two Japanese words when you participate in this tour.

“Urushi” is sap from Urushi tree.

“Shikki” means urushiware(lacquerware) in Japanese.

【About Aizu Urushi Tour (Tema Hima Utsuwa Tabi)】

We will give you a special half day (about 4-5hour) tour visiting around Aizu Shikki (lacquerware) studios with a guide.
A reservation is needed.
Aizu Shikki has more than 400-years of history and tradition.
Please open the door to the world of handcrafts in Aizu. Aizu is a well-established historical castle town, which is home to the famous Tsurugajo Castle. All the artisans you meet here are proud of their works, which were made with their sincerity and respect for their tradition. It used to be difficult or almost impossible for visitors to enter their studios and see them in person.
Aizu Urushi Tour (Tema Hima Utsuwa Tabi) is a tour that makes it possible for visitors to experience the process of making shikki with a guide and receive assistance planning your urushi tour.
aizu shikki tour

【Places you can visit】

Shikki(Lacquerware) is not completed by one artisan, one studio. It is raised with human hands from the raw urushi tree, and shikki making is divided into three processes. The charm of this tour is that you can experience the long time and process until one dish is made while visiting each place.

The process of making shikki involves three steps: shaving the wood to the desired shape (woodturning), painting several coats of urushi onto the wood, and finally decorating the shikki with fine designs (makie).

Urushi tree field:
You can find out why the Japanese raised the urushi tree for 10,000 years ago at this place.

Shikki studios
Kiji-shi studios: Studios for making the wooden base to which lacquer is applied.

Nuri-shi studios: Studios for coating the wooden base with urushi lacquer.

Makie-shi studios: Studios for painting a picture with colored urushi or decorating by sprinkling gold or silver dust particles.

“Tagoto”: Japanese restaurant where you can eat Aizu local cuisine with shikki.

【Tour Information】

We will give you a special half day (about 4-5hour) tour visiting around Aizu Shikki (lacquerware) studios with a guide. Maximum 8 people per group.

Basic Rates: The following experience is included in the basic rate.
* 5,000yen per person for the half day (about 4-5hour) tour.
* Urushi field visit.
* About 2-3 studios visits.

Options: The following experience is possible at an additional charge.
* 5,000yen per group If you want us to arrange an interpreter.
* Special Aizu local cuisine to eat with shikki: +1,800yen per person
* Experience making shikki: +1,000yen to +5,250yen per person
* You can directly purchase artisans’ work.

Procedure for your Aizu Urushi tour
1) Application: Please apply by e-mail using the following e-mail form. Please submit your application form one week in advance of your trip.
2) Meeting place: Aizu-Wakamatsu station.
3) Payment: Please pay us at the designated meeting place by cash.Japanese yen only.

Access to Aizu-Wakamatsu:

【Special Reports by foreigner!】

There are Aizu Urushi Trip experience report videos! Please check out!

●KemushiChan from US (in English)

●Alan Channel from Taiwan (in Chinese)

aizu shikki

A French journalist, Jean-paul Richard, wrote the experience report of Temahima Utsuwa Trip on the site “Samurai Trip”. A state of a detailed trip in English is introduced. Please have a look.
Aizu: Delicious Food and Tradition in Deep Japan

On site “REDISCOVER FUKUSHIMA -Follow my journey in Fukushima Prefecture”, Ms. Zoe from England wrote a nice article about our tour.

【Tour Guide】

Wataru Kainuma
Executive Director and Founder, Urushi Rocks Inc.
Director, Nonprofit Urushi Harunaka
IMG_5014 のコピー
Born in Fukushima in 1980, Wataru was absorbed in band music and India during his schooldays. After graduating from a university in Tokyo, he moved to Aizu-Wakamatsu. In 2013, he collaborated with an Aizu shikki factory to start a cultural tour to visit artisans.He started to dream of how we could coexist with nature. As a powerful communicator who connects people to urushi, Wataru gives lectures and hosts events all over Japan to convey how shikki enriches our lives.In 2015, it launched the shikki brand “Meguru”. Meguru is unique for its collaboration with individuals with visual impairments (who are guides of “Dialogue in the Dark”), and for its sophisticated design, touch, and ease of use. A portion of the revenue is allocated towards the planting of urushi trees in Japan.

Company: Urushi Rocks Inc.
President: Wataru Kainuma
Address: 4-16-201, Shinyokocho, Aizu-Wakamatsu city, Fukushima pref.
Postal code: 965-0866
Tel: 0242-85-6803

【Urushi and the Lives of the Japanese】
Japan is a country of trees.
Almost everything, such as ships, roads, and houses, has been made of wood. The Japanese and trees have lived in harmony. Trees are ideal material for tableware, because they are warm and recyclable. However, they have a weak point, which is that they are susceptible to ruin because they easily absorb water and become stained. When the Japanese began using trees as material, they needed to coat the wood with protective coating. Ancient Japanese people found a way to coat wood with urushi, which is sap from urushi tree, a lacquer tree.
Urushi has been regarded as the material to protect wood and imbue it with aesthetic beauty. Then, shikki (lacquerware) was elevated to the realm of art. It is an essential element of Japanese culture.
One of the charms of urushi is its appearance and the feeling when it touches the lips. It is said that urushi coating has a similar feeling of human skin.
At table, the Japanese hold tableware with a hand and touch their lips to the lacquer ware.
Shikki was born in China and Japan, which has a lot of trees, and was developed by the Japanese with their sharp 5 senses. It became more sophisticated. Urushi is a wonderful natural material which has played a significant role in the development of Japanese culinary culture.
aizu urushi trip

【Growing urushi trees】
Lacquer-known as urushi in Japanese- is a natural material obtained from the sap of the lacquer tree.
A nursery tree requires two years to be planted on the field of urushi forest.
It takes 10-15 years that single urushi tree grow enough to produce urushi sap.
During that time, tree growers have to take care of them- cutting weeds away, taking off bind weeds, etc
It takes tremendous time and efforts to grow urushi trees and collect sap from a lot of urushi trees, so there is a big labour cost issue. As a result, around 98 percent of the natural lacquer used in Japan is now imported.
aizu urushi trip

【Application E-mail form】

Please send us the following e-mail form one week in advance.
Please mail to < >.

●Booking dates:
 First option date
 Second option date
 Third option date
●Number of participants:
●Booking name:
●Names of the participants:
●Birth date:
●Country where you reside:
●Mobile phone number:
●E-mail address:
●Means of transport in your Aizu:
●Expectations for your trip (Please select as many as that apply):
 ・Visiting urushi field
 ・Visiting studios
 ・Making Shikki
 ・Special Aizu local cuisine
●Questions for guides or artisans etc:



貝沼 航(Wataru Kainuma)


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