八雲塗やま本

Yakumonuri Yamamoto

YAKUMONURI YAMAMOTO
LACQUERWARE

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YAKUMONURI YAMAMOTO LACQUERWARE

Classical and modern—ever-evolving
Yakumonuri lacquerware

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Tracing history back to a lacquerer in the late Edo period serving the feudal lord of Matsue

Matsue-odori Avenue, north of the Matsue-ohashi Bridge over Lake Shinjiko, is home to lacquerware producer Yakumonuri Yamamoto, founded in 1889.

In the late Edo period (1603–1868), the castle town of Matsue was under the rule of Matsudaira Harusato. The seventh-generation feudal lord was also a man of culture. He was a master of the tea ceremony who went by the name of Fumai.
Fumai sent lacquerers in his service to well-known centers of the craft, like Edo and Wajima, and encouraged them to start a new lacquerware culture in Matsue. With the advent of modernization in the Meiji period (1868–1912), however, there was no more work for the lacquerers who worked exclusively at the castle. One of them, Sakata Heiichi, developed lacquerware incorporating not only Japanese but also foreign techniques. This is said to be the birth of Yakumonuri.

The greatest feature of Yakumonuri is the layering technique. The wood is first covered with an undercoat, then decorated with colored lacquer, and finally coated with layers of semi-transparent lacquer.

This final step is the key. Whereas most lacquerware is completed with the painting of the pattern, Yakumonuri is finished with layer on layer of semi-transparent lacquer and polished repeatedly. This produces the magical effect of the pattern growing more vivid with years of use than when first painted.

A certain figure stepped forward to make this perfected Yakumonuri a traditional craft of Shimane. His name was Kisaburo Yamamoto, the founder of Yakumonuri Yamamoto.

Classical yet modern, lacquerware by Yakumonuri Yamamoto evolves to fulfill customer requests

Today Yakumonuri Yamamoto is run by a member of the fourth generation, Kazunari Yamamoto, who says he is “constantly in search of new designs.” On this day, in the studio on the second floor, the lacquer-coating artisan, Akira Matsubara, was performing an essential step of the Yakumonuri process—polishing the semi-transparent coat with his bare palm. After nearly 60 years as a lacquerer, Matsubara’s hands have the integrity and beauty of a seasoned craftsman.

In recent years, the amber-colored lacquer cup has been soaring in popularity. It was created at the customers’ request in a solid color. The shade is produced with a coating of gold leaf finished with layers of semi-transparent lacquer. Depending on the angle of lighting, the elegant piece can appear honey-yellow, red, or violet. The cup even feels good to the touch, as the finish is so smooth that it clings to the hand.

“Traditional Japanese crafts like this fascinate people in the West,” says expedition member Fabien with a sparkle in his eyes.

The store lined with everything from high-end wooden lacquerware to affordable resin pieces is fun just to browse. To us expedition members who imagined lacquerware was too fine for our lifestyle, it came as a pleasant surprise to discover items so modern and sophisticated.

{ Access }

  • ●Yakumonuri Yamamoto: 1 minute by foot from Ohashi Kitazume, 5 minutes by bus (for Matsue Shinjiko Onsen) from JR Matsue Station

  • ●45 Suetsugucho, Matsue-shi, Shimane

  • [ more information ] Know More | VISIT MATSUE <<View the site>>

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YAKUMONURI YAMAMOTO LACQUERWARE