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70 Year Old Naha Laquer Store to Close

Date Posted: 2001-01-12

Benbo, a Ryukyu lacquerware store which has been open for 70 years in Naha, is closing this spring. The reason for the impending closure is that people have started using cheaper glassware and mass produced items made of plastic. Sanemasa Miyagi, the head of Urasoe Museum says, “Other lacquerware stores in mainland Japan are in financial difficulty, too. It is a really sad news.”

After World War II, Ryukyu lacquerware artisans from all over Okinawa were brought to Naha to start the store and Benbo opened in 1948. The shop was especially popular among Americans immediately after the war. Between 1955 and 1964 Benbo employed more than 100 artisans and its financial condition was very sound. However, after 1975 the business began a downturn, which was never reversed.

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