It was known to the Japanese people from over nine thousand years ago that the milky tree sap flowing from the trunks will dry as a robust and beautiful coating.
The “lacquer” from the lacquer trees.
Lacquerwares even enchanted western people with its beautiful jet-black gloss. Leading to the creation of imitation goods known as “Japaning”.
What becomes more apparent as one learns about the history of lacquer is the close relationship which the Japanese people have with it. The lacquer trees can be utilized to their full potential as “lacquer” only in the Japanese traditional culture.
The home of lacquer, Joboji Temple. Here 60% of Japanese lacquer is produced. Day after day they grow the lacquer trees, and make the lacquerware, continuing the lacquer culture.
Many of Japan’s important cultural properties are made from botanical materials. In order to preserve these for the future generation, repairs and restorations are essential. “Joboji lacquer” plays an important role in the preservation of such important cultural properties as, Rokuon Kinkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto, World Heritage Site Chusonji Temple’s Golden Hall of Hiraizumi, the Shrines and Temples of Nikko and the main gate of the Imperial Palace.
Japan’s Cultural Affairs Office certified “Joboji Lacquer Forest” as the first “Cultural Assets of hometown Forest” on the accounts of the following: 1) Supplying high-quality materials for the repairs of cultural properties. 2) Being a model high-grade material production site. 3)
Being a base to promote understanding of repair materials. 4) The contribution to the cultural heritage protection by the production of high-quality repair materials. The following is written on a local guide sign: “For many years lacquer has been used for buildings and bowls. It is a traditional coating material which represent our country. It has also been widely used as an adhesive. Natural lacquer that has been collected by excellent craftsmen is essential for saving and repairing cultural heritages. (Agency for Cultural Affairs) “
Today high quality is required for domestic lacquer.
As a major production area we are responsible to ensure a stable quantity and quality in our production and supply of the lacquer. Because of this in 2008, Iwate Prefecture and Ninohe launched a third-party organization entitled “Joboji lacquer authentication committee”. Who go to the fields and review the produced lacquer, and only the lacquer which conform to the criteria can be shipped as authenticate “Joboji lacquer” with a certification label on the barrels containing the lacquer.
The craftsmen are responding positively to these institutions, working to further improve the technology and quality along with making the production and distribution process more clear.
Masazane Kunohe, is the man who defied Hideyoshi Toyotomi and fort bravely against him. His story is written in the pages of “Ten-wo-tsuku” written by Naoki Prize winning writer Katsuhiko Takahashi. Japan’s oldest stone wall has been found from the remains of the keep of the “Kunohe Castle” which this story is set in.
Masazane is called as the Samurai of tragedy. His rebellious spirit and willingness to go through with his pride and beliefs has been passed on to, Daisaku Soma who defied lord Tsugaru, and the pioneer of Japanese physics Dr. Tanakadate Aikitsu.
Kendo, descended from swordsmanship, is thriving in this area and leads the Kendo activities of Iwate prefecture. Feel the “Force *” within Ninohe.
* ”Force” is the power that the Jedi knights use in ”STAR WARS” movies.