Masakazu Ishihara Lacquer Art Factory is specialized in producing fine lacquer art pieces using the Choshitsu and the Tsuishitsu techniques. His works are deeply rooted in the traditional Japanese craftsmanship but also representing the modern way of life. Through his work, Masakazu Ishihara aims to modernize traditional Japanese lacquerware while conserving its historical essence.
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What is URUSHI
the most ancient and biodegradable plastic known to man
Urushi is Japanese for the lacquer. The word “lacquer” derives from the ancient Persian word “lak”, meaning a resinous substance secreted by certain insects. In the West, “lacquer” is considered to be a finish formed by dissolving resin in a solvent to dry by evaporating
In contrast, Japanese lacquer, Urushi, is derived from the non resinous sap of the Rhus verliciflua tree (also known as the urushi tree) . Urushi is not dry; it thickens through a process called polymerization of enzyme reaction. Once rigid, it is impregnable by most solvents, but it can be damaged by direct sunlight. Japanese lacquerware can be durable when it is taken care of properly.
Thus Urushi is recognized as the most ancient industrial plastic known to man. However, unlike modern plastic, Japanese lacquer is completely biodegradable.
Urushi has been used for more than six thousand years in Japan, and it is loved for its strength, usefulness and beauty.
The Japanese aristocracy used Urushi in their architecture, furniture and accessories.
The samurai, Japanese warrior, used Urushi in the decoration of their swords, armors and helmets.
Nowadays Urushi is mainly used for Japanese cuisine tableware and tea ceremony utensils. It is continuously appreciated its unique beauty and for being environmentally friendly.
What is Choshitsu
Choshitsu is the most sculptural decoration techniques of the Japanese lacquer crafting. By coating colored lacquer many times on the undercoatings, a lacquer layer for carving is made. One hundred of coatings make 3mm thickness. Decorative designs are carved on the layer. Distinctive beauty is revealed by the varying the depth of the carving. The attraction of this technique is the three-dimensional effect and the color harmony.
Originally, products of this technique were imported from China in the 14th century. The production of Choshitsu in Japan has begun during the Edo period by Zokoku Tamakaji in Kagawa under the patronage of the regional lord. Thereby, the Kagawa prefecture has been recognised as a center of this lacquer techniques.
What is Tsuishitsu
Tsuishitsu is a stack of many layers of colored lacquer. One hundreds and twenty layers make a 5mm thickness. Each Tsuishitsu has its own harmonious pattern of color.
The angle of the carving determines the design of the multi-colored stripes.
These Tsuishitsu pieces can be stacked and inlaid make various things. You can see it in the stem of the SHIMA cups and on the surface of the small chests.
Majlis in Japan
Majlis means “sitting place” in Arabic.
When we heard this beautiful word, we remembered the Japanese “zashiki”. “Za” means to sit, and “shiki” refers to the Tatami-mats. “Zashiki” is a room where a host meets with guests and spends a good time with them. We can find many types of “Majlis” all over the world.
In Japan, the “Shoin” and the “Chasitsu” are good examples. Both of them were developed from the 14th century. “Shoin” has been a prototype of the Japanese architecture until now. It consists of a “zashiki”, the “tokonoma”(an alcove for interior decoration) and the garden. “Chasitsu” is specialized for the tea ceremony and it is usually small.
Japanese “Majlis” are highly of Biophilic design. Almost all of the materials used to construct it are natural. The decoration in the “Tokonoma” is changed every season and expresses the passing of nature.
Majlis with japan
The word japan also means a lacquer craft itself. We can find many japans in the old Japanese maj-lis.
In terms ofarchitecture, lacquer coats the wood of the floor and the walls to make them strong and waterproof. It also bonds gold foils to walls (You can see it in Kinkakuji in Kyoto) and sliding screens.
The “Tokonoma”(an alcove for interior decora-tion) of Japanese Majlis is often decorated with“japan”. A KOUGOU (an incense box) and a TEBAKO (a box of stationary) are popular items of decor.
Additionally, during the tea ceremonies, we can find many Urushi items. The tea container and the tea scoop are usually made with Urushi.
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