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Craft Artist
Eiko Tanaka
Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture
Japanese horse chestnut, lacquer

A moon shining in the evening

In Yamanaka Onsen, located in a deep mountain valley in Ishikawa Prefecture, a number of artisans have inherited Japan’s unique technique of grinding wood and have been making lacquerware that reveals the beauty of the wood since ancient times. Eiko Tanaka is a wood specialist known as kijishi (woodturner) and lacquer artist who has studied in Yamanaka in pursuit of her own ideal style. As an artist, she completes the entire process of making lacquerware by herself, unlike the traditional process where each step is done by an artisan specialized in that particular element.

This work, with its shining rim cut like a crescent moon, is created through an innumerable series of processes. The best shape for each piece of wood is carved out on the potter’s wheel with careful attention to the specific characteristics of that wood, such as its flexibility and grain pattern. Then, layers of red and black lacquer are repeatedly applied and then polished, painstakingly bringing out the lustrous patterns. The beautiful appearance of the wood, which resembles clouds fluttering in the evening sky with the moon hanging over it, is the result of Eiko’s passion to sincerely reflect the individuality of the wood.

Tochi, or Japanese horse chestnut, given a new form and life, will continue to shine alongside people. The work, which is the fruit of uncompromising skills and the heart of the artist, will be passed on from Japan to the world and to the next generation.