Lacquer / Shinichi Ohkura
Shinichi Ohkura, Lacquerware Artist
大蔵信一 漆器作家 兵庫県三田市
“I want to produce beautiful tableware we can use every day and be happy as I work” -this is how Mr. Shinichi Ohkura works as a lacquerware artist. As he designs, he pictures the kind of elaborate traditional Japanese dishes that his wife, a professional kaiseki chef prepares, which are presented on his tableware.
Mr. Ohkura’s father was a sashimonoshi (cabinetmaker), and he grew up surrounded by wooden products. After graduating from university, he worked in a plastic tableware factory. At first Mr. Ohkura enjoyed his work but soon the sameness of the mass-produced products and their patterns bored him.
His life started to change when he married a woman whose father was a kijishi (woodworker) of wajima lacquerware. Kijishi make the natural wood tableware that will have lacquer coatings applied to it. Inspired by his father-in-law, Mr. Ohkura then began his lacquerware apprenticeship.
Coffee Cupｓ / コーヒーカップ / Cup Φ8.5cm x H6cm, Plate Φ13cm Lacquered Japanese Chestnut
Lidded Sake Vessel / 蓋付酒器 / W20cm x H15cm x φ13cm Lacquered Japanese Chestnut
Bread Plate with Spoons / パン皿とスプーン / Plate Φ21cm, Spoon L19cm Lacquered Maple (plates)
Plates and Soup Bowls / 長皿と汁物碗 / Plate 50cm x 10cm, Bowl φ11.5cmxH6cm Lacquered Japanese Chestnut
This was in the 1970s and was when people lost their interest in traditional Japanese handicrafts. Lacquerware was not an exception and yet wajima craftsmanship with its long history did not allow for innovation. Mr. Ohkura felt that this attitude would hasten the decay of Japanese lacquerware, so he studied design at a night school for two years.
Mr. Ohkura’s first original product was a small lacquer cake knife. It became popular and sold well, which encouraged him to design new types of lacquerware. Now he designs both traditional Japanese and western tableware in various shapes and colors. Other than the traditional lacquer colors of red and black he also uses gold, silver, and green which he creates himself. When inspired he adds a finishing touch by drawing and scrolling freehand.
Mr. Ohkura, with his skilled hands and infinite care, is making tableware that literally brings color to your life.
Photography by Kenzo Konishi