Works of art, gems, combining beauty with practicalitySplendid with the skill of craftsmen passed down the ages.

Last update :
Written by Editorial department

Gorgeously decorating the everyday The accouterments of everyday life, created by craftsmen

Tsugaru-nuri lacquer ware, Japan’s northernmost traditional lacquer ware, has a history of about 300 years (since the mid-Edo Period), centering on Hirosaki, Aomori. The unpainted wooden base of Tsugaru cypress is covered with cloth, coated with lacquer and polished to reveal the patterns. "Lacquering and polishing are repeated with all the necessary processes amounting to nearly 50, taking at least 2 months for completion. Tsugaru-nuri is unique for its complexity and high-class feel.

Aizu-nuri lacquer ware took hold in the Aizu region around the end of the 16th century, making it older than Tsugaru-nuri. The feudal lord at the time encouraged the production of lacquer ware as an industry, making the region a large production area, from growing the urushi lacquer tree to attending to the decoration. The lacquering and decoration processes are each allocated to specialist craftsmen, making for a high quality, efficient production system.

Aizu-nuri lacquer comes in many varied shapes, from elaborately decorated, to plain.
Aizu-nuri lacquer comes in many varied shapes, from elaborately decorated, to plain.

The more you use them, the more you’ll want to hold on to them. Superb items you’ll regularly use long into the future

Nanbu-tekki is traditional ironware from Iwate that is both robust and longwearing and will last a lifetime if you take care of it. The appeal lies in its excellent heat retention, and its habit of becoming less prone to scorching as the more you use it, the more the oil works it way in. Using Nanbu-tekki for cooking is an easy way of supplementing your diet with iron, as foods and liquids pick up iron from the pan. The multitude of designs and color variations suitable for modern day use are catching the eye of customers from Japan and abroad.

“Nanbu-tekki ironware” includes cast iron products made in Morioka and Mizusawa, Iwate.
“Nanbu-tekki ironware” includes cast iron products made in Morioka and Mizusawa, Iwate.

Highlighting the feel of the bark of cherry trees, cherry bark artwork survives from generation to generation only in Kakunodate, Akita, and is unparalleled in the world. Having excellent resistance to moisture and drying out, it is used for everyday implements such as tea canisters and small boxes. Its luster improves with age and has an appealing rustic texture.

The tasteful bearing of the amber color, which suits interior spaces, is great for interior design.
The tasteful bearing of the amber color, which suits interior spaces, is great for interior design.

Magewappa, bentwood containers, are highly practical craft items that beautifully highlight the grain of the wood. Made by bending thinly peeled wild Akita cedar, magewappa is particularly popular for its round shapes and warm feel. The moisture absorbency and anti-bacterial effect of Akita cedar means it keeps in the flavor of rice-based meals, so it is commonly used for lunch boxes.

A traditional craft of Odate, Akita, taking several tens of steps to produce each item
A traditional craft of Odate, Akita, taking several tens of steps to produce each item

Simply adorable Their charm will make you an avid collector

Traditional kokeshi, simple and adorable wooden dolls, were originally made as souvenirs for hot spas in the mountainous regions of Tohoku. Different regions produce kokeshi of different shapes, facial expressions, and torso patterns, imparting a sense of the makers’ skill and taste. Production is particularly high in Miyagi.

The shoe-button eyes and narrowly pursed lips are particularly appealing.(Photo courtesy of Culture Division, Miyagi Prefectural Government)
The shoe-button eyes and narrowly pursed lips are particularly appealing.
(Photo courtesy of Culture Division, Miyagi Prefectural Government)

Candles hand-painted with chrysanthemum, peony, wisteria and other flowers make excellent souvenirs with beautiful colors. A traditional craft of Aizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima, painted candles were once lit at wedding ceremonies. You can try candle painting for yourself in some stores.

Craftsmen use delicate brushwork to paint colorful flowers on each and every candle.
Craftsmen use delicate brushwork to paint colorful flowers on each and every candle.