The history of Takaoka-Shikki lacquerware started in the beginning of the 17th century, after the second lord of the Kaga Domain, Toshinaga Maeda, founded the town of Takaoka. In order to lay the foundations for the castle town, he
gathered craftsmen and merchants from all over the country.
Oba Shozaemon moved to Takaoka Sashimonoyacho （present day Oba, Toyama City） in Oba Village of Arakawa-gun, （and later, Himonoyacho） where he created cabinetry such as Buddhist alters, chest of drawers, and nagamochi trunks from the beginning of the Edo period. As most of these items was painted red, they were called “akamono.”
This lacquerware was sold not only around Takaoka, but throughout the Kaetsuno Sanshu region, and was said to have even been distributed as far as Echigo and Hokkaido.
Lacquers Nushiya Hachibe and Tsuji Tanpo, who were active in the mid-Edo period, cultivated lacquering techniques such as Iromakie, Mokushu, Tsuishu, and Tsuikoku; and were considered the founders of authentic lacquer craft in Takaoka. In the latter half of the Edo period, master craftmanship of “mokucho saishitsu” wooden lacquer carvings were seen from lacquers such as Tonamiya Tozo and Itaya Koemon, with their techniques even showing up in Takaoka Mikurumayama floats. Furthermore, from the end of the Edo period into the Meiji period, various techniques such as Yusuke-nuri, Sabiire, Raden, and more were developed and the area’s foundations as a lacquerware production area was established. In September of 1975, Takaoka-Shikki was designated as a “Traditional Craft” by the Japanese government.
Sculpture Coating is based off techniques developed by master craftsman, Tsuji Tanpo, who was active throughout the middle-Edo period. The base is carved with thunder or tortoiseshell patterns using mokushu, tsuishu, and tsuikoku
lacquering techniques with motifs such as flowers, birds and beasts, waves, peonies, and peacocks decorating the top. This style is characterized by its three-dimensional effects and unique luster.
This technique was inherited by Itaya Koemon among others in the early 19th century, and today, Takaoka’s sculptured lacquerware is reproduced by coloring techniques that use colored lacquering and all-red paint.
Shell Coating is a technique that uses thinly sliced pieces of abalone, marbled turban, silver-lipped pearl oysters and peacock shellfish known as “aogai.” They are combined together into triangular or diamond shapes to express
landscapes, flora and fauna, and other motifs.
The detailed crafting of these shells is also called “Raden” and generally uses shells that are about 0.3 mm in width. However, Takaoka-Shikki lacquering also uses shells that are 0.1mm in width.
Yusuke Ishii developed the Yusuke Coating technique at the end of the Edo era after repeated research into Ming Dynasty lacquerware which had been imported from China, a style for which he held great admiration.
The characteristics of this technique include rust paintings of motifs such as flora and fauna, landscapes, and people that are expressed using a Chinese-style. It features comprehensive painting techniques which utilize materials such as aogai shells, stones, and foil painting.
Products such as tea trays and utensils created using this method are highly regarded both inside and outside the prefecture for their fine detailing and elegance.