November 2021 Gathering Report

The November gathering was held in the afternoon on November 27th, Saturday, at the Atsumi Hall. The theme was "Let's make lacquer (urushi) chopsticks!" For a gathering it was unusual to have an interactive workshop, and I was really looking forward to it.

The instructor for this session was Takamasa Yoshino-sensei, a Japanese lacquer artist and director of the Japanese Cultural Property of Lacquer (Urushi) Association. He started off by giving us an introduction to Japanese lacquer (urushi) and explained how the base for urushi comes from the sap gleaned from cutting the trunk of a deciduous tree from the urushi family. He went on to explain how urushi is purified and processed, and the types of lacquer ware that exist. He also showed us some of his own urushi creations, which were on display in the foundation hall. These pieces of art were inspired by everyday experiences, and were all wonderful.

After learning about urushi fundamentals, we next learnt how to make our own urushi chopsticks. After choosing either black or red chopsticks for our base, we started drawing our own designs on them. I spent a lot of time thinking about what colours would go well together while looking at colour samples of patterns.

As we started to draw, we realized that urushi was more viscous than imagined, and difficult to use. It was necessary to take one's time and focus on the task. As researchers we are all used to a hectic schedule, and I felt that this was a good opportunity for us to refresh and recharge. We shared comments such as "that's really cute" or "that's a bold use of colour" while looking at what the people around us were making. I had a really fun time.

Not long after, our own one-of-a-kind chopsticks were ready. Yoshino-sensei collected everyone's precious art pieces to let them dry. I can't wait for them to arrive. I want to eat rice with the chopsticks I made - the rice will certainly taste more delicious than usual.

At the end of the session, we talked about the New Year Party, which is still some ways to go. In the coronavirus era it is difficult to foresee the future, but we talked about how we could bring in the new year in an enjoyable way and shared our thoughts and opinions about how to have a fun gathering.

Mayuko Fujitsuka and Minako Nakai from the Tokyo University of Fine Arts, Department of Fine Arts also assisted with this workshop. I would also like to give my thanks to the foundation staff and all who helped with preparing this event.

Li Dian

Translated by Sonja Dale

Photos of the day