Aizu-nuri is lacquerware made in the Aizu region of Fukushima Prefecture. Lacquerware flourished as a craft in this region thanks to the widespread planting of lacquer trees during the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the abundance of wood that is used as the base material, and the region's warm and humid climate that is suitable for the craft.
During the Muromachi period, the feudal lord of Aizu invited lacquer artisans from the Omi province of Japan (now Shiga Prefecture). As their techniques spread across the region, local lacquerware production gradually increased. With the development of original decorative techniques such as maki-e (drawing patterns with gold leaf powder) and keshikinji (applying fine gold powder to make a gold surface), lacquerware became firmly established as a major industry in Aizu. Production further increased with the invention of woodturning tools that allowed craftsmen to efficiently make the same vessel shape repeatedly.
Today, Aizu artisans make use of horse chestnut, magnolia, zelkova, and other wood bases to make a wide variety of lacquerware, from everyday items such as chopsticks and bowls, to lavishly decorated stacking boxes and sake cups.
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