Ryukyu Lacquer ware began its history as a tribute item for the emperor of China or Japan, and not for the public, so its popularity is something of a more recent phenomena, and in that, it’s growing by leaps and bounds.
Shell colors are good around Okinawa and they can be sliced very thin with great condition, something that centuries ago caused China to buy shells from the then Ryukyu Kingdom. Besides something beautiful, what are we talking about here?
Ryukyu lacquer ware is mainly made of Indian coral tree, Deigo, or the Sendan bead tree. The vivid reds and gold are eye catching and breath taking, making it very much in demand. Easy to look at and love, and difficult to create.
There are four branches of Ryukyu Shikki Lacquerware company in Okinawa, a company said by some to be the premier creator of quality lacquer ware products. The stores or shops are located in Ahacha in Urasoe city, Madanbashi as Naha main office, Kokusai street in Naha and in Itoman. The Itoman branch has installed its own factory and offers public backstage tours, and offers visitors an opportunity to create their own lacquer ware experience. When visiting, though, beware that there are not always working craftsmen backstage.
A personal trial experience is ¥1,500~ with no limitations for creating a product during the 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. workshop opening time. Visitors can try to design their own lacquer ware, or can choose ready made designs also. Products made at the lacquer ware factory can be taken out the same day.