Kamakura-bori: Beautiful Traditional Crafts with Subtle Carving and Deep, Vibrant Lacquer
The Kamakura-bori style of carving is believed to date all the way back to the Kamakura period (1185–1333). The style is thought to have emerged when wood lacquering techniques were augmented with ideas influenced by the culture of China to produce implements for Buddhist rituals.
The anti-Buddhist movement of the Meiji period (1868–1912) led to a drop in demand for ritual implements. Forced to find other work, Buddhist image makers put their sculpting skills to use in opening up new ground for Kamakura-bori carving.
What distinguishes the Kamakura-bori style is that it features bold carving work, such as Japanese floral patterns, along with lacquering that produces a sense of gentleness and warmth. The use of knives for carving is a technique that is unique to Kamakura-bori, and is one of the style's most intriguing aspects.
While Kamakura-bori is rightly noted for tableware, including plates and bowls, this fantastic style has also been put to great use in the world of fashion accessories, with brooches among the outstanding pieces that have been produced.
Traditional craftsman Kazuhiko Mitsuki's fascination with Kamakura-bori led him to become an apprentice at the age of 25, leaving behind a job in design.
"What appealed to me about Kamakura-bori is that one person can make a finished piece on their own, from the carving to the lacquering," he says.
A sketch of the finished product is traced onto the unfinished wood, and notches are made with a knife. Several different types of gravers are used as needed, creating a visible sense of distance and volume. The way the pattern emerges is what makes this technique so impressive to witness. When the lacquering is included, even a 30-centimeter tray can take upwards of a month to make.
While it would seem that many people are under the impression that lacquerware is difficult to maintain, the truth is that there is no need for any troublesome care; just wash with ordinary dishwashing liquid and wipe dry with a dry cloth. Lacquerware is not dishwasher or microwave safe, but its light weight and unobtrusive taste make it perfect for bowls, cups, and other tableware. That the luster and taste only grow with use is another great thing about lacquerware.
Kamakura-bori is a traditional craft that harmoniously blends pronounced carvings, deep lacquered hues, and the pleasant feel of wood, a common Japanese handicraft material since ancient time. Kamakurabori Kogeikan is across from Wadazuka. It sells Kamakura-bori, receives orders and produces Kamakura-bori, , provides lacquering services, and sells raw materials. It also holds exhibitions, workshops, hands-on classes, etc.
Address3-4-7 Yuigahama, Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Business HourTue-Fri 9:30-16:30/Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 11:00-16:00 Regular holiday: Monday (the following day if a holiday), temporary holidays during the year-end and New Year holidays, spring, and summer
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