Aizu Urushi Tour Guided by Artisans
Discover the story of urushi in Aizuwakamatsu City
Urushi is Japanese lacquerware which is said to have been made since over 9,000 years ago in Japan. Since the 15th century, the skill of Aizu Urushi underwent a drastic improvement and remains in tact even now.
The artisans still do their work respecting and upholding the traditions of their craft. The lacquerwares are not completed by a single artisan or one studio. The lacquer is won by human hands from the raw urushi tree, after which the shikki (lacquerware) making process is divided into three parts.
This tour leads visitors to urushi tree fields and allows visitors to enter artisan’s studios and see them do work in person.
- 9:30 AM Meet the guide and go through orientation.
- (Meeting Point: Aizuwakamatsu Station)
- 9:40 AM -10:20 AM Observation of urushi tree fields
- ↓(Move by car）
- 10:30 AM -12:00 PM Studio 1 (*Observe wood shaving)
- ↓(Move by car）
- 12:15 PM -1:15 PM Lunch at Tagoto
- ~Lunch that uses local cuisine and urushi.
- ↓(Move by car）
- 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Studio 2 (*Experience Urushi decorating)
- 3:30 PM Tour concludes at Aizuwakamatsu Station
- *The contents of observation and experience at the first and the second studio are depending on the studio’s schedule.
Urushi tree fields
Urushi making begins with raising urushi trees. First, you will be taken to some urushi tree fields. The guide will show you why the Japanese have been raising the urushi tree for over 10,000 years at this place.
Admission to two of the studios conducting different steps in the creation process, among five studios, are included in this tour. The lacquerwares are not completed by just one artisan and one studio. You will visit different artisans who work on different parts of the process.
- The process of lacquerware making;
- 1. Shaving the wood to the desired shape
- 2. Painting several coats of urushi onto the wood
- 3. Decorating the shikki with fine designs
There are five studios and three processes you can observe during the tour. Two studio visits will be planned depending on the studios’ schedule. The experiences you could try are, for instance, wood shaving, making your own chopsticks, sake cups and pen stand, and drawing a picture on the sikki. These experiences are possible at an additional charge.
Tagoto serves special lunch that incorporates local cuisine and urushi. The plates used at the Japanese restaurant are made and painted by the artisans. Enjoy this traditional local cuisine and the pretty paintings.
The restaurant has great atmosphere with its Irori, a traditional Japanese sunken hearth.
Price per person
- 2: 11,000 yen
- 3: 10,000 yen
- 4: 9,500 yen
- 5: 9,200 yen
- 6: 8,000 yen
- 7: 7,200 yen
- 8: 6,600 yen
- ・Visiting an urushi field
- ・Visiting 2 studios
- ・Special Aizu local cuisine
- ・Transportation during the tour
- ・English speaking guide
What’s not included
- ・Transportation from/to Aizu Wakamatsu City
- ・Hotel pick-up and drop-off
- *Any experience fee is not included in the price. The availability of the studio may differ depending on the day. We will tell you which experiences you can choose after the studios have confirmed.
Know before you go
- ・At least 2 persons are required to book this tour.
- ・Please wear comfortable shoes and clothes you do not mind getting dirty.
- ・Be careful not to touch any urushi trees or leaves. They are likely to cause a rash.
- ・Feel free to take any pictures of the artisans and studios.
- ・The urushi tree field tour may be cancelled in case of bad weather.
- ・A guide will take pictures and movies during the tour.
- ・The studio you will visit cannot be chosen.
- ・Please treat the studios with respect during your visit.
- ・Aprons and gloves will be prepared by the host.