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I've been racking my brains on this for quite a while now and would like to buy some traditional styled Japanese Lacquerware or shikki (漆器) in Tokyo.

I've tried places like Asakusa and some online shopping sites are available as well (for instance Rakuten). I'm looking for some high quality but cheaper hand made lacquerware which I can take a look at in person and select from.

I primarily wish to use it for decoration purposes and not for eating on a daily basis.

I'm also willing to travel a little from Tokyo as long as it's a reasonable distance and cost. Are they any places where I can find stuff like this?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'd go to Kappabashi-dori, conveniently located between Ueno and Asakusa next to Tawaramachi stn on the Ginza line. It's Tokyo's main restaurant wholesale district and sells everything you need for food preparation or presentation at low prices, Wikivoyage has a bit more info. Note that the Japanese term for lacquerware is shikki (漆器), urushi-nuri is the coating itself.

Note that lacquerware is, paradoxically, one of those things where the more you pay, the less you get, since the real thing is fragile, stains easily and is difficult to clean without causing damage. My wife only trots out her set for New Year's, and she puts a layer of plastic wrap between food and plate when she does! Plastic imitations are much cheaper (hundreds of yen vs thousands), much more practical and not easily distinguished by the naked eye, although for seriously decorative pieces (eg. the pieces towards the bottom of this article), the real thing will be your only option.

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Goddamnit. Once, ONCE I try to write something Japanese and I get it wrong. :( Why is it so hard! :'( –  Aditya Somani May 26 at 2:33
    
I tried looking for stuff at Kappabashi-dori, but some shops were closed. I'll be going there next week to try again! I did find some good ceramic knives though! :D –  Aditya Somani May 26 at 2:35
    
(+1) I think it's also worth while to look at some of the department stores to get a comparison for price & Quality. The dep. store stuff is usually quite expensive, so not for buying, but it helps to get some understanding of the pricing landscape and design directions for comparison. –  uncovery May 26 at 5:39
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You should really try the "Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square" (伝統工芸 青山スクエ)

It is located in Tokyo (Aoyama 1-chome station) and contain a large variety of traditional items, some being lacquerware.

Address:

 Akasaka 8-1-22, Akasaka Oji Bldg 1F.
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The place where I ended up buying most of my stuff from is called Kuroeya. They have a website in Japanese and some information in English as well and end up as one of the first results on Google when you search Shikki in Japanese.

They are situated right next to Nihonbashi on the Tozai Line. Here is an address for people who would like to buy some of their stuff.

Nihonbashi 1-2-6, Kuroeya Kokubun Buildingg 2nd Floor

Unfortunately their stuff is a little high priced and may not be a great choice for someone who just wants a memorabilia from Japan. On the other hand they only keep either pure wood or 50% melamine mixed Shikki with some exotic crafting. If you are planning to decorate your home, this might be a great option. Their stuff is much more exclusive than the stuff I was able to find in other spots such as Kappabashi-dori.

Nonetheless, Kappabashi-dori is worth a visit as well!

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