寄付・募金・ボランティアのセーブ・ザ・チルドレン・ジャパン

Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami Emergency response and recovery program

“They are brilliant and so beautiful. It was fun!!”: Fun Art Lesson in Tohoku at Miyako City (November 19, 2013)

“Super! They are brilliant and so beautiful!” “It wasn’t difficult. It was fun!” Elementary school children gave joyful responses to seeing and working with Japanese lacquerware. The beauty of traditional Japanese lacquerware fascinates us, and to our surprise, these children enthusiastically took up the challenge of a lacquering technique called jimaki’ (sprinkling metal filings onto wet lacquer)!


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Save the Children Japan (SCJ) supported the “Suntory & Japan Art Crafts Association ‘Fun Art Lesson in Tohoku’” project held in Miyako City of Iwate Prefecture. Suntory Holdings sponsored the event, with on-site lessons provided by the Japan Art Crafts Association and management cooperation supplied by the Suntory Foundation for Arts. The aim of this project is to help children from disaster-affected areas to regain their composure through feeling the attractiveness of Japanese art and traditional craft, and experience the joy and pleasure of making things. Prominent craft artists are invited as lecturers, and children enjoy the opportunity to communicate with them, appreciate their work and take part in workshops and other activities.


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On Sunday October 6, the first “Fun Art Lesson in Tohoku” was held as one of the events at the “Miyako City Industry Festival,” with cooperation from the city’s Board of Education. Thirty-six children from fourth to sixth graders and two adults participated in the event.


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The event was held in a friendly atmosphere with four lacquer artists who are actively working in the craft world.


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Main lecturer: Mr. Masado Fujita    Ms. Kagari Miyoshi

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Ms. Yoko Noguchi     Ms. Etsu Toyohira

 

Mr. Fujita started the event by giving a talk about lacquer, which was enjoyed by both children and adults. For a long time people have valued lacquer as an all-round surface for serving dishes and ornaments. It was exported around the world and gained so much popularity among the European royal aristocracy that the lacquerware came to be called “japan” in English.

 


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*Mr. Fujita has received a Purple Ribbon Medal of Honor for his contributions to artistic development in Japan.

 


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Various tools to create lacquerwork. Mice and cat hair are used in the brushes, while bamboo and reeds are used for powder tubes. The feathers of cranes and other birds are also used. These tools are already highly valuable themselves.

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Lacquer serving dishes created by the artists were also exhibited.

 

After the talk, the children themselves tried lacquering! The steps of the process are below:

 

① Paste a chrysanthemum pattern onto a black board.

This pattern is one of the three flowers found inside the lid of “fusenryō raden makie tebako,” a lacquered cosmetic box that is listed as a national treasure, now held at the Suntory Museum of Art.


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Where the children pasted the patterns expressed their individual characters.

② Coat the board with Mitsuda-yu oil (used here instead of lacquer), carefully avoiding the patterns. You need to use different brushes for coating different parts of the board.

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This is very detailed work! The children seemed so serious when holding a brush in their hand.

③ Sprinkle brass powder (used here instead of gold powder), carefully avoiding the patterns.

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From a powder tube, the children carefully sprinkle brass powder. This is a very difficult task! People say that it takes 10 years to learn how to do this professionally. Still, the artisans gently taught the children how to sprinkle the powder.

 

After trying it, children said:

“It was interesting to sprinkle powder. I could do it nicely.”

“I want to learn more about lacquer.”

“I think someone’s individuality can be expressed through this technique.”

 

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After the art lesson, the children protectively took their unique work, the only one like it in the world, back home with them.

We will organize more sessions of the “Fun Art Lesson in Tohoku” in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures in the future.