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Nine Small Pieces of Chocolate Bonbonniere

Craft Artist
Takao Togashi
Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture
Japanese cherry birch, lacquer

Delighting in urushi

Nine delicious-looking pieces sit neatly in a box. Astonishingly, they are all lidded works made of wood, lacquer, gold and silver leaf, and other materials. They are so perfect that they could be mistaken for real chocolate.

Flourishing as a historic castle town, Aizu in Fukushima Prefecture has nurtured a vibrant style of lacquer craftsmanship known as “Aizu-nuri,” which utilizes a wide range of techniques and has been cherished by the local people. This “Nine Small Pieces of Chocolate Bonbonniere” was created by Takao Togashi, a nushi (lacquer artisan), who playfully combined a variety of techniques that together embody the essence of Aizu. The lustrous deep red color adorning the wooden chestnut-shaped base is achieved through Takao’s expertise in Aizu Tamamushi-nuri. The gold and silver pieces, decorated like silver dragee candies, are created using a technique known as tetsusabi-nuri or “iron-rust lacquering” to create a three-dimensional effect. The flowing and elegant lines that look like poured chocolate are actually expressed by pouring urushi lacquer over the pieces.

Takao, who humbly identifies himself not as an artist but as a craftsman, possesses a rich sensibility reminiscent of craftsmen from ancient times, who take joy in the act of creating.