The Takeo Family
Tea farmer Hideyuki Takeo with Yunomi Tea Merchant Ian Chun
TOHACHIYA produces and distributes Wajima-nuri for mainly professional use, such as exclusive Japanese restaurants (Ryotei). Therefore, both exceptional durability and sophistication are required. The know-how accumulated over many years of experience has enabled us to successfully manufacture various products ranging from furniture to accessories. In our studio, skilled craftsmen, who have been awarded the Minister of State for Trade and Industry Certificate, produce Wajima-nuri on a daily basis. These products have been awarded many prizes including the Minister of Economy and Industry Award.
Wajima is the name of the area where the lacquerware is produced and nuri means urushi coating. There are many traditional nuri crafts in Japan. Among these, Wajima-nuri has been officially recognized as the best. Through the trial and error of many different processes, our ancestors discovered the best way of making durable bowls. Consequently, more than 120 stages are employed to attain Wajima-nuri’s exceptional durability. The final thick coat of urushi produces a deep luster which can also enhance rich decorative techniques. To ensure the consistent high quality, labour is carefully organized with each stage of production being carried out by skilled craftsmen. The inherent value of Wajima-nuri lies in the fact that whilst it is both practical, it is also a form of art.
Urushi is the most important material in Wajima-nuri. It is a thick honey-like liquid refined from the sap of Japanese lacquer trees and is used in every stage of the production process. The extracting process from the tree is very similar to the process used to obtain sap from rubber trees but requires much more time and effort. Only 150g of sap can be collected from each mature lacquer tree over ten years old. In comparison to the world’s annual yield of diamonds which is about 30 tons, only 1.5 tons of the internationally recognized highest quality Japanese urushi can be obtained in a year. A tub of Japanese urushi costs 8,000 euros and a large proportion of this precious urushi is used to produce Wajima-nuri.