Kokontozai: KASHIYUKA’s Shop of Japanese Arts and Crafts — Urushi Bowl
January 8, 2024 | Design | KASHIYUKA’s Shop of Japanese Arts and Crafts | photo_Keisuke Fukamizu hair & make-up_Masako Osuga editor_Masae Wako translation_ Mika Yoshida & David G. Imber
Searching all of Japan for handcrafted items that express its heart and soul, our proprietor, KASHIYUKA, presents things that bring a bit of luxury to everyday life. This time she finds herself in Ibara City, Okayama prefecture, in the presence of an artisan who purchases rare, valuable timbers, and takes them all the way through carving practical objects to the application of urushi lacquer.
Amid stacks of chestnut bowl bases, in the studio of Ikkei Ninjō, who crafts the bowls on a woodworking wheel. “It’s set low,” KASHIYUKA observes. “Considering the preciousness of the wood, it’s best to keep it that low,” replies the artisan.
A deep gemlike luster and a shape that nestles gently in the hands. I’ve found a simple urushi bowl for everyday use.
Its size is excellent for a small portion of ramen or oyakodon — chicken-egg over rice. It sits properly in the hand when you hold it; so light it feels almost weightless, and the material doesn’t transfer heat. The term urushi sometimes arouses apprehension due to its preciousness, but this has a casual, familiar feel to it.
Purchase No. 68【Urushi Bowl】An everyday lacquered bowl whose appeal emerges from the inner beauty of its wood.
The maker is Ikkei Ninjō, a woodturner based in Ibara City, Okayama prefecture. In lacquerware making there is usually a division of labor, with some making the wood base and others lacquering. But Mr. Ninjō does everything from sourcing and cutting the wood and shaping it to applying the lacquer. It’s a unique style inherited from his father, Yoshikatsu Ninjō, a legend in the world of urushi.