I am a designer. I want to design lacquerware. (Part 8)

There are many cases where foreigners who have jobs come to Japan and get regular jobs, and we are generally welcome.

This time, from a Japanese point of view, I’ll tell you about the life of an Irishman who was born and raised in Dublin. She is a quiet young woman who laughs and talks that her character is the descendant of a pirate. She graduated from a local high school, but she didn’t forget her design career at the art club and studied for two years at a design school.

She came to Japan with the idea of incorporating Western design into oriental lacquerware. She has not studied Japanese at all. She communicates with people entirely in English. It would be nice if you were a Japanese who could understand English, but now it’s going to be hard. Salvation is where her character is so uneasy. She didn’t understand Japanese at all, but she was also a wonderful talent. What! What!

Ireland and England are the same island countries as Japan. What we have in common is that there are no useful raw materials on the island. Japan was able to buy raw materials, process them, export them in the form of products, and earn foreign currency. Lacquerware is one of them. Ireland and The United Kingdom have exported wisdom.

You can still know the remnants.

This lacquerware is part of a traditional craft.

What is traditional crafts?

  1. Traditional crafts are regulated by Japanese law as follows:1) Traditional crafts are used in our daily lives.Materials, colors, patterns, and shapes are deeply related to the Japanese way of life and are inherited today.2) The main part of the manufacturing process must be handmade.3) Manufactured by traditional technology and method.

    4) Traditional raw materials are used.

    The Decline and Crisis of Traditional Japanese Crafts

Japan’s traditional crafts and its culture have shrunk significantly since the Meiji Restoration and the Second World War. Because there is a lot of manual work, craftsmen are required to be skillful with their hands. Due to the aging of the craftsmen, the shortage of bearers has become more prominent and serious. That’s why we asked for the support of foreigners.

First question to her!!

My question;  What are you going to do when you come to Japan? What kind of job do you get?

Her answer;  I’m a designer of living goods. I would like to incorporate the concept of Western design into the world of wood lacquerware.

My answer;  Wow that’s tough! We have to clear some barriers.

Barrier 1; Dexterity of the hand (Can you cope with unique manual work)

We make possible images of designs visible on paper or IT mediums, but we need to make prototypes once they can be made. Of course, the experienced craftsmen also help some of them, but the subject is you.

Otherwise, it is not possible to determine whether the lacquerware is really appropriate or accepted by the Japanese. Work the whole journey by yourown to make a prototype. Thest of view is the ability to do so. You can’t see this until you actually do it.

It may take several years for some people. Anyway, you will be surprised at the long process. You have no choice but to do it. The most difficult is the case of using the function by both hands. That is, the left hand and the right hand are different work. The feet are also working differently. This is a pretty hard task even for Japanese.

There are a lot of people who cannot do it, too. Fortunately for her, we were able to successfully complete the whole journey in one year.

There was dexterity of the minion. It was good. Of course, if there are processes or difficult tasks that you can’t do, you can rest assured that you will be able to deal with the whole organization.

However, if you can afford it. In addition to the dexterity of the minions, the most important thing is to actually experience and convince the craftsman in the world of lacquerware.

Success is everything to see if the new world of design can move the hearts of craftsmen.

The manufacturing process until lacquerware is made.

Barrier 2; Advanced Japanese and communication may be required. Or, it is always requested

In everyday life, it is enough to be able to speak or understand simple rudimentary Japanese.

With this level of conversation and communication, you can learn it quickly. However, if you try to make a little in-step discussion or suggestion, it is often difficult if you can’t read and write kanji that Japanese elementary school students learn freely.

In particular, it is necessary to have kanji skills at the graduation level of junior high school to live in the world of lacquerware craftsmen. When I checked her Japanese skills, I found that I couldn’t even have a simple conversation. That is, it is level 0. When it comes to business-like, level 4 or higher is required.

In other words, in addition to reading and writing about 1026 kanji that are learned in six years of elementary school, students must learn 1,110 kanji at junior high schools based on the Course of Study. The so-called Support Room for Foreigners encouraged students to master elementary-level Kanji in hiragana classrooms, kanji introduction classes, and kanji acquisition classes, and then acquire Japanese in the “Secondary Level Kanji Class” and go to their places of office.

The reason is that it was expected that it is an environment where it is necessary to acquire work by seeing and imitating because a Japanese manual and the work procedure, etc. are insufficient in the post of lacquerware. In addition, the support room will reward instructors similar to volunteers in the past.

Increased from 750 yen to 1,500 yen for 1.5 hours, and gathered experienced teachers to solidify the system.

She spent six months in four classrooms, finishing her Japanese language training safely, and left for the lacquerware village, a new world.

Barrier 3; Allergy tolerance

Since lacquerware processes tend to be a lot of lacquer (urushi), raw wood, and fine dust, certain ingredients such as lacquer (urushi), odors, and gases cause blisters and red rashes on the face and hands and feet due to allergies and gin machines, causing itching and juice. It is already safe after six months because it is usually able to be resistant (immunity) in about three months.

The degree of influence varies from person to person, and it is better to be careful, especially for young women.

In her case, it seems to have been able to clear it by kicking it with the viking soul of the possession.


In this way, she made all the lacquerware she had created in her first year at the lacquerware village. From the second year, lacquerware, which has a variation of traditional design and a design that incorporates a little Western elements into the existing Oriental style, won an encouragement award at an exhibition in The Prefecture. Instead, she created a translation of lacquerware manuals and standard books in Japanese and English, and his employees thanked her.

At the end

In this way, she seems to have worked energetically as a lacquerware designer in Japan for five years. The number of foreigners has increased little by little. Now she is temporarily returning home to see her irish mother’s illness. She will come back soon.


★The manufacturing process until lacquerware is made.

There are four processes for the manufacture of lacquerware: wood making, base coating, middle coating, and finishing.

  1. Wood making work

・Select materials: Choose the material that suits the product.

・Cut dimensions: Cut the material to the size of the product.

・Crafting: We do drawing lines and fine parts.

・Assembly: We will assemble the wood-taken material, such as woodworking bond.

・Wood polishing: Polish the assembled products cleanly.

  1. Base coating

・Drying: Dry by turning a blind eye on the wood.

・Wood polishing: Polish the whole again.

・Base drying: Apply the base again and dry it.

・Ground polishing: Further polish the whole.

  1. Medium coating

・Rusting: The scratches and dents of the wood are filled with a special putty and polished to flatten.

・Dry: The whole is coated and dried.

・Drying: Further paint the whole and dry.

・Polishing: Further polish the whole.

  1. Finishing

・Wipe: Finish the middle coating and wipe the polishing product cleanly.

・Paint: Finish paint.

・Dry: Until the lacquer is dry, it is finished.

In this way, lacquerware is carefully crafted one by one by the hands of craftsmen.


Related links:
The weird world of animal cafes
Find the right job for you in Japan (Part 1)
When working in Japan, be aware of unexpected pitfalls (Part 2)
I came to New World Japan for a job (Part 3)
I came to Japan in search of a quiet and peaceful place (Part 4)
He came all the way from Australia to become a professional in football (Part 5)
Is it a mistake by e-mail? Is this a contract? (Part 6)
He came from the French countryside to support Japanese agriculture.(Part 7)




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