The beginning of Aizu Lacquerware was when Gamo Ujisato was assigned as the ruler of Aizu domain (part of current Fukushima prefecture) in 1590.
He did a distinguished service while Toyotomi Hideyoshi was trying to unify the whole Japan, and as his achievements suggest, he was a brilliant leader.
Aizu Lacquerware is one of his achievement since he was the one who encouraged the production of lacquerware and brought artisans for carving and painting from Hino, current Shiga prefecture. It was before Tsugaru Lacquerware and Wajima Lacquerware became thriving.
The cutting edge skills were inherited to the local artists, and Aizu domain became one of the largest production center of lacquerware where could provide Japanese lacquers, carve the woods, and paint and decorate them.
At the beginning of Edo era (1603-1867), around 1630, Aizu Lacquerware became known in Edo (Currently known as Tokyo), and the production became even larger.
Inviting Makie (gold lacquering) artisans from Kyoto and adopting another renovation, Aizu Lacquerware became even more luxurious, and people tried to export them to China and Netherland under the circumstance of Japan’s national isolation.
The characteristics of Aizu Lacquerware is thin, delicate look of its form but shiny black or red skin which gives you two opposite impressions of elegance and toughness.
In Aizu, various ways of painting lacquer, such as Hananuri (no polishing after painting) and Kawarinuri (using proteinic ingredient) has been developed to produce better pieces in each era.
As the result, Aizu Lacquerware is actually hard and uneasy to peal, water and hot water resilient, and durable to acid and alkali.
The painting methods naturally contribute to the beauty of the surface and warmth and calmness of the gloss.
Aizu Lacquerware was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1975.