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Experience Traditional Arts and Crafts

During the Edo Period (1603-1868), Ishikawa Prefecture was known as the Kaga Domain and was ruled by the Maeda Clan, was often referred to as Kaga Hyakumangoku (Hyakumangoku literally means “one million koku of rice”, where koku was the amount of rice that would feed one person for one year; this symbolized the wealth of Kaga at a time when wealth was calculated by the amount of rice one’s domain was able to produce). Because the Maeda Clan was not related to the ruling Tokugawa Clan and their domain (Kaga) was the richest domain after the capital (Edo), they were always under careful watch by the Shogunate. In order to show that their clan had no military ambitions and no desire for taking over the country, the lords of the Maeda Clan refrained from displays of military strength, thereby appeasing the government in Edo. In particular, the third clan lord, Toshitsune Maeda, very publicly implemented policies to encourage the development of culture in the domain.

As a result of a vibrant economy and the policy of cultural development, Ishikawa fostered a variety of traditional world-famous arts and crafts, such as Wajima lacquerware, Kutaniyaki ceramics, and Kanazawa gold leaf, that flourish still today. Ten of these crafts have been designated as National Traditional Arts and Crafts, while six have been designated as Prefectural Traditional Arts and Crafts, and 20 have been designated as Rare Traditional Arts and Crafts.

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Kanazawa gold leaf is one of the most famous arts and crafts in Ishikawa. More than 99% of the gold leaf that is produced in Japan is produced in Kanazawa, and it is used to decorate a variety of items, such as decoration for lacquerware, Buddhist altars, and Kutaniyaki ceramics. It is also used to bring a shining beauty to buildings such as Kyoto’s famous Kinkakuji Temple (Gold Pavilion Temple) and Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi Prefecture’s Nikko. In Kanazawa, there are many places where you can observe the gold-leaf making process or try your hand at decorating wares with gold leaf (takes approximately 1-hour).

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Wajima lacquerware has been designated an Important Intangible Cultural Asset, and is world-famous for having an elaborate process that involves over 100 artisans from start to finish. The craft utilizes traditional techniques, and recently among a generation of younger artisans, the craft has taken a more modern feel as it produces modern art as well as wares for daily use. Come to Wajima, where you can spend about one hour trying your hand at making Wajima lacquerware or watch an experienced artisan at his craft.

 

In addition to the above, Ishikawa is home to many other traditional arts and crafts which still flourish today and which you can easily try. Come to Ishikawa, and try your hand at one of our traditional arts and crafts!

 

Related Link:Ishikawa Prefectural Traditional Industries Wares Museum (English)