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.
Dinner Plate φ24cm / Spoon 18cm / 八寸パーティ皿、スプーン / Lacquered Japanese Horse-chestnut (Tochi) / Magnolia
Lidded Sake Vessel 12cm H12cm, Box 40cmx10cmxH4cm / Small Dish φ9cm H18cm / 蓋付酒器、長箱、花形小皿 / Lacquered Japanese Horse-chestnut/Japanese Linden (shina)
Square Tray 35cmx35cm / Red & Gold Bowl φ12cm H10cm Small Bowl φ12cm H4.5cm / 角盆、金銀明椀、内銀小鉢 / Japanese Horse-chestnut/ Japanese Linden (shina)
Thick Square Tray 36cmx36cm / Cupφ9cm,Chopsticks / 座皿、内銀カップ、箸 / Lacquered Japanese Cypress/Horse-chestnut / Imported wood (chopsticks)
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