Sensei Morimasa Horiuchi and I attended a lecture by Professor Yutaro Shimode from the Kyoto Institute of Technology. He has recently invented a paint that's available in 24 K gold or silver. It layers well onto urushi and other finishes, drying instantly and durably. Sensei Morimasa Horiuchi tried Professor Shimode's gold maki-e brush/pen/stylus to paint his Taizan name "Sei Sui" with the year dated 2010 on a Yuu from my knapsack. Beautiful results!
The gold maki-e lacquer improves the sound of this Yuu by 7.53% ;-)
Yutaro Shimode is the 3rd generation of lacquer craftsmen (Makie Shisho) born in the ancient capital of Kyoto in 1955. The Japanese lacquer (Urushi) is a natural substance obtained from the urushi tree, which is often used to coat wooden products to impart surface glossiness. Specially lacquered (Makie) products made by Shimode included fixtures and altar furniture used in various shrines and temples throughout Japan. In 1993, during the 61st renewal of the Grand Imperial Shrine in Ise, Shimode was involved in the restoration and renewal of specially lacquered sacred ornaments that were enshrined. About 60 pieces of Makie wares augment the interior decor of the Kyoto State Guest House, which was built for the purpose of welcoming guests from abroad and also as a gesture for deepening of friendship between the guests and Japan. These carefully selected wares were sprinkled with flecks of gold or silver that exemplifies the rich tradition and excellent Japanese craftsmanship. Moreover, these Makie wares have been chosen as exhibits for 24 consecutive years at the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition, which is the most popular major art exhibition in Japan. A commemorative Makie lacquer box souvenir was specially crafted by Shimode and given as a symbol of friendship to U.S. President Obama during his visit to Tokyo in November 2009.
Throughout the years, Shimode has been conducting various courses and training workshops to encourage the young generation to inherit the skills and knowledge of the traditional art of Urushi making. Shimode was appointed as an adjunct professor at the Future Applied Conventional Technology Center of Kyoto Institute of Technology since 2006 where he conducted various researches concerning the quality of Urushi products and developed methodologies to assess the transferring of traditional skills from professional to amateur craftsmen. Shimode has received numerous state awards in recognition for his excellent contributions towards the preservation of the art of Urushi.
Prof. Yutaro Shimode
Future-Applied Conventional Center
Kyoto Institute of Technology
Maki-e Lacquer Maestro Shimode-san graciously gave me a bamboo leaf pattern he painted and signed after the lecture on a piece of urushi paper. Domo arigato, Shimode-san!