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History of Echizen lacquerware

The beginning of Echizen lacquerware was about 1500 years ago when Prince Ootono (later, the 26th Emperor Keitai) ordered a lacquer artisan at Katayama village (present Katayama-cho in Sabae-shi) to repair his crown. The lacquer artisan not only repaired the prince’s crown but also made the prince a present of a black glazed lacquer bowl. The prince was deeply moved by the ineffable beauty of the bowl and encouraged to start lacquerware manufacturing in Katayama village. This is how today’s Echizen lacquerware was born and production of bowls became the major industry of the area ever since.
In Edo period, the technique of maki-e (decoration) was introduced from Kyoto and the technique of chinkin was introduced from Wajima.
In Meiji period, an artisan who studied the kiji forming of kakumono items in Wajima came to this area and spread the technique which lead to increase in the variety of items to be manufactured in the area. Various lacquerware techniques were introduced from the lacquerware production regions such as Kyoto, Wajima, Yamanaka and Aizu which lead to improvement in lacquerware techniques in Echizen area and formed the foundation of today’s Echizen lacquerware.
About 1500 years ago
Prince Ootono encouraged to start lacquerware manufacturing.
Around 1580
Manufacturing of Katayama shunuri (red lacquerware) was started.
1802
The technique of “shibushitaji” where the kakishibu liquid is applied as the foundation before applying lacquer was developed.
Around 1848 to 1854
The technique of maki-e (decoration) was introduced from Kyoto and the technique of chinkin was introduced from Wajima. Intended to grow out from the manufacturing of marumono items (bowls).
Meiji period
Mass production was started and the manufacturing became more diversified. The production region started to expand.
1899
The kiji forming of kakumono items was introduced from Wajima leading to increase in the types of items to be produced.
1900
Imadate Lacquerware Cooperation was established. Artisans and workers were managed and disciplined, mass production of inferior products was prevented, participation in expositions and exhibitions/competitions was promoted.
1902
The artisan’s training facility was built in Katayama area.
1905
Kawada Lacquerware Purchase Association was established.
1921
Imadate Lacquerware Cooperation was reformed as Echizen Lacquerware Cooperation.
1933
Design technicians were sent from the prefecture and held training sessions.
1940
Echizen Lacquerware Industrial Association was established.
1950
The 1st Echizen Lacquerware Exhibition was held.
1952
The production techniques using plastic bases and chemical coating were introduced. This enabled low cost mass production.
1955
Opened a new market for industrial lacquerware products (for catering and restaurant businesses).
1967
The 1st Lacquerware Fair was held in Kawada area.
1975
Registered as the traditional craftwork.
From 1975
In addition to the traditional lacquerware items such as bowls, resin lacquerware products including new items such as trays, sushi trays, lunch box containers, tray tables were developed and produced.
1980
Echizen Lacquerware Dento Sangyo Kaikan (traditional industrial hall) was opened.
1995
The World Gymnastics Championships were held at the SUNDOME Fukui and country name boards and podiums made of lacquerware were used. Echizen lacqerware was introduced to the world.
1998
Echizen Lacquerware Design School was opened.
1999
Nokishita Atelier started their activities. Lacquer Noren-kai shops were opened.
2000
Echizen Lacquerware Cooperation supplied lacquerware dishes and utensils for school lunch to Kawada elementary school.
2002
Echizen Lacquerware Cooperation developed and started to produced wooden lacquerware dishes and utensils for school lunch. A pilot project where the wooden lacquerware dishes and utensils for school lunch are used in elementary schools in the prefecture started.