Takaoka douki started when a Kaga daimyo, Toshinaga MAEDA(1562-1614), summoned seven casters to the Kanaya-machi of Takaoka City to promote the area's prosperity in 1611 (Keicho 16). This year marks the 400th anniversary of that event.
At first, it started as art and craft work presented to the feudal lord. Then it became widely popular in and outside Japan as Buddhist altar equipment, pots and kettles, vases, tea utensils, and decorations.
Bronzeware was presented to the world at international expositions and was also exported, gaining a solid reputation.
The material first used was mainly iron casting, but around the middle of the Edo Period (1603-1868) there was an evolution towards a variety of materials, including alloyed metals such as copper castings, tin, bronze, and brass, as well as aluminum - marking a further improvement of the processing technologies. Polishing, metal carving, coloring, and other processing techniques were also developed, and a variety of modes of expression were established.
Both manufacturing methods and processes have continued to develop, up to the present day.
In 1975, we were designated as a Primary Nationally Designated Traditional Craft; in 1979 we were designated as an area for specific industries, and the Takaoka Metalwork Association was registered as a "local community brand" by the Japan Patent Office on January 11, 2008.
The characteristics of Takaoka douki are free molding as well as intricate shaping, and graceful and smooth surface.
Growing beauty through time and gently caressing the products day after day brings out an elegant sheen.
Takaoka douki provides pleasure as it ages gracefully with ownership.
Takaoka douki is made of copper alloys using casting technology, via the following steps:
original mold > casting > finishing > coloring; during each stage, skilled craftsmen display the essence of their craft, and by combining all these, a single objet d'art is born.
Being the only center of bronzeware in Japan, we make everything from tea utensils, incense burners, and Buddhist altar equipment, to temple bells and large-scale bronze statues found in the open air.
Four techniques are mainly used for casting for Takaoka douki: flat casting, wax casting, hot casting, and green sand casting, in a metal processing technique in which molten metals such as iron, copper, tin, bronze, and brass, as well as aluminum are cast in the original mold.
The green sand casting process is that sand is packed around a pattern which is made of wood or metal for making a sand mold. The sand is tamped down to provide the upper and bottom mold with adequate strength. The pattern is then removed, leaving a negative form in the mold. And then the molten metal is poured into the mold.
A number of products can be made by one pattern. The sand can be used repeatedly, and recycled.
The surface finishing technique consists of various processes besides engraving, and techniques such as inlaying or corrosion (etching) are all part of the Takaoka douki characteristics. As part of the engraving technique, a variety of chisels are used to create elegant designs.
One of the reasons for the high prestige enjoyed by Takaoka douki lies in the fact that many distinctions were won at expositions during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) due to the engraving technique used, and that superior technique received global acclaim.
This technique is called "the art through which bronzeware appreciates rust" and it is the final process which determines the bronzeware's appearance.
The skilled artisans apply various methods and create a vivid "tone" by letting the metal corrode.
The purpose of coloring is to improve storage stability and beautification; in order to bring out the natural color of the metal, various chemicals that have been passed down from generations past are used, and compounds are generated by letting the surface of the metal corrode.
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