Sponsored by Yuzawa Geopark Promotion Group
Yuzawa City, in Akita Prefecture, offers visitors the traditional craft delighted by the beauty in its snowy landscapes. Kawatsura lacquer has been created here for over eight centuries, and the Yuzawa Arts & Crafts Museum offers you an introduction to this ancestral art.
Discover Rich Local Crafts
The museum’s modern building is home to ancestral Japanese art. How do you make a lacquered object? In the case of Kawatsura lacquer a wooden object, usually beech or chestnut, is made perfectly smooth. Then applied by brush in successive layers, a paint base of sumac sap, is applied for its qualities of resistance. It is painted without revealing a single trace of a brush stroke, which requires great technical skill. Once the lacquer is dried out patterns, colors, and gilding are added to obtain a unique and beautiful object.
On the ground floor, the exhibition space shows a variety of lacquerware, as well as all the expertise of the lacquer craftsmen. Each piece is incredibly refined. This is the right place to buy an exceptional lacquer, hand-made with a respect for tradition. Some of these beautiful objects carry a hefty price, but you can purchase a small objects (a cup, a cup, etc …) for a few thousand yen (from 15-20 €).
Upstairs, you can discover the art of how Kawatsura lacquer was made through the generations. Many tools and manuscripts are on display, in the middle of very beautiful exhibition.
Learn about Lacquer Painting
During a 90 minutes demonstration, a professional craftsman will guide you in the realization of a pattern, which will then be applied on a lacquered support. Then you have to redraw this pattern using a brush with fresh lacquer. Then apply a colored powder (gold, silver, green, blue, red … it’s up to you) on the lacquer. You can fine tune your drawing with small tools. Once finished, the lacquer is packaged in its box for at least a week, making sure to moisten the lid of this box every day. You can then remove the excess powder and admire your work.
Lacquer is a very solid object, but also fragile. Always keep it wrapped in a box or cloth, but also do not be afraid to use it for both special occasions as well as daily life. Regarding maintenance, it has to be cleaned up with a soft sponge with hot water (40 ° C) only. Dry your lacquer immediately after washing, to reduce the risk of streaking (water contains minerals capable of leaving white marks on the lacquer). Of course, never put your lacquer in the microwave or dishwasher (disaster!).
The experience costs 2,057 yen per person (reservation required) and you will be able to bring your unique creation home!
How to Get to Kawatsura Lacquerware
The museum is a bit far from Yuzawa Station. I recommend you to rent a car. Alternatively, you can take a bus to the museum from Yuzawa Station. The bus doesn’t operate so frequently but it goes smoothly. Take the Ugo Kotsu bus line, right in front of the Yuzawa Station Tourist Office (you can see the bus timetable from here) a 30 minutes ride (490 yen). Get off the bus at Inakawa Junior High School.
Tip! We take a numbered ticket when we get on a bus, and we pay the driver at the exit. We can pay with 1,000 yen bills or coins. From there, walk west for about 5 minutes.
If you are looking for a fabulous place to spend a night, I recommend the excellent ryokan with hot springs like Motoyu Kurabu Ryokan in Oyasukyo Onsen.
|Name||Yuzawa Arts & Crafts Museum|
|Opening Hours||09:00 - 17:00|
|Price Range||2.057 yen|