Traditional Culture of Japan - Portal site of traditional crafts and culture

Using lacquerware for celebratory occasions (marriage, childbirth, etc.)


Due to its luxurious luster and beautiful decorations, lacquerware has been chosen as a gift on celebratory occasions in Japan for quite some time. Items that use lacquer are given as a gift on such events like a wedding or the celebration of a birth.


As a wedding gift, people in Japan tend to avoid items that are associated with “breakable” or “cutting”.


Therefore, it has been a tradition not to give knives or ceramics or glass that can easily be broken. So, a tough lacquerware has been regarded as a perfect gift item.


Today, in many cases, people give knives and glass products as gifts in Japan. It is also important to consider an item simply based on what “people might like” as well.


Making a prior arrangement when giving lacquerware as a gift
When ordering lacquerware for celebratory occasions, it is necessary to contact the store in advance. This is because dates of celebratory events such as weddings or childbirth are usually set.


In the case where lacquerware is given as a commemorative gift, most pieces are custom-made products such as “personalized lacquerware”. Each of these products are made by hand, so it takes time until they are finished. Thus, if you do not make a prior arrangement, the event might be over and you would need to send it at a later date.


As a gift, many people purchase and give practical items with a moderate design instead of a work of art with decorations of powdered gold such as “makie”.


Also, a lacquer product is vulnerable to ultraviolet light and microwave oven use. So, products made of synthetic resin and synthetic coating materials, which are worry-free of these problems, are also popular. Because lacquer is not used for these items, they are affordable as well.


Either way, the best thing is to “give your feelings that you want to celebrate”. You may also make inquiries to the recipients in advance and then give something along the line of their wishes.


“Okuizome” (first meal) ceremony after childbirth
In Japan, it is a tradition to have a meal with a newborn around 100 days after birth in wishing that “the baby does not go hungry throughout its life”. But the baby at this stage cannot eat a regular meal yet, so parents just pretend to feed the baby by picking up a small amount of food to its mouth.


This ceremony is called “okuizome”. Okuizome is considered as the first day that the baby eats foods other than breast milk.


And, lacquerware is used on this occasion. Usually, vermillion lacquerware is used for boys and a black one is used for girls. You would think that it should be the opposite, but it has been a tradition to arrange it in this manner for many years.


However, you do not need to buy new items just for this ceremony. You may use lacquerware that you use on a regular basis. You should purchase lacquerware by looking at its long term usage.


Also, lacquerware will not break even if it is dropped, so some people mainly use lacquerware plates or spoons in place of ceramics products. The smaller a child is, the more he/she is likely to drop tableware. That is why some people buy a set of lacquerware tableware so that they do not have to worry about their children dropping them. There are a wide variety of uses for lacquerware such as being a memorable item when children are grown.


Of course, lacquerware also plays an active role in other events in Japan. Why not consider lacquerware as an option of a gift for someone who is about to go through a life transition?

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