International Course on the Conservation of Japanese Lacquer

Seeing lacquer collection on study tour
Practical restoration of lacquerware

 From September 2 to 15, the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held an international course on the Conservation of Urushi (Japanese Lacquer) jointly with the ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). This course consisted of lectures, practices, and an informational tour. Nine trainees from eight countries (Austria, Germany, UK, Poland, Russia, Portugal, Canada and the US) participated in this course and learned the history of urushiware, the science and survey methods of lacquer, traditional urushiware techniques, and repair philosophy and methods of urushi objects and lacquer coating, from each specialist. On the study tour, trainees visited the outskirts of Joboji-machi of Ninohe City, which produces nearly 80% of urushi made in Japan. They first toured to the Hachinohe City Jomon Museum and Goshono Jomon Museum to see the excavated lacquerware in the Jomon Period, which forms the roots of urushi in the Japanese islands, and then viewed the urushi sap collecting at Joboji-machi and the creation of urushi sap collecting tools at adjacent Takko-machi in Aomori Prefecture. At the Ashiro Lacquerware Technological Center in Hachimantai City, they viewed actual Japanese lacquer refining work, and also saw the urushimuro (a warehouse for urushi coating) and urushi paint tools that were used from the Taisho Era to the beginning of Showa Era and are rare nowadays.
 They ended the tour with a visit to Chusonji Temple’s Konjikido Hall. Most trainees who participated this time belonged to art galleries and museums that owned urushiware works from Japan and had trouble in handling them or were otherwise involved in actual restoration sites. Therefore, they had very high awareness of the surrounding issues and were very earnest. One of their comments made a particular impression on me: “I learned a bit about Japanese lacquer, but I had an even better experience for my future carrier because I was able to learn by watching and studying the actual objects and work process”.

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