The party led by Mayor Fujiwara Jun of Ninohe City, Iwate visited New York again and held “Ninohe City Fair in New York 2015.”
Ninohe City whose population is 28,000 is the largest producing area of domestic lacquer and its share accounts for 70% of domestic production. Also, Joboji urushi is known as high-quality lacquer and has played a major role in the preservation of Japanese typical cultural buildings such as Kinkakuji in Kyoto, Konjikido of Chusonji, Nikko Toshogu, listed as world heritage.
On the other hand, the local sake, Nanbu Bijin has succeeded a special way of manufacturing sake by production with riverbed water of Orizume Basen-kyo (ravine) as preparation water and local sake rice including “Gin-otome (silver virgin)” which is the original rice of Iwate and suitable for making sake as raw materials.
We held “Ninohe City Fair in New York 2015” for the purpose of promoting the brand power of the “Ninohe brand” such as superb articles and original products that Ninohe can be proud of. This fair consists of following four events.
The opening reception was held in Japan Club Oct. 6 (Tuesday) from 6:30 pm. Government and local government officials, an association of people from Iwate prefecture, the people involved in lacquer, art and Japanese sake were invited to the opening reception. Seminar of lacquer and Japanese sake was conducted in the Rose room on the second floor, and tasting of sake, exhibition, and sale of lacquer and introduction of local products were carried out in the gallery on the seventh floor. More reporters crowded the venue than last year and high attention to this “Ninohe City fair” was seen.
Seminar of Joboji urushi × Nanbu Bijin
Barrel-opening ceremony (reception)
Exhibition of Joboji urushi was held, and a special sale was conducted in the gallery on the seventh floor of Japan Club from noon to five (three on the last day) in the afternoon each day from Oct. 6 (Tuesday) till 9 (Friday). The corner for describing the way of collecting lacquer was set in the venue and visitors listened to lacquer craftsman carefully.
Display of tools for urushi tapping
Display of tools for urushi tapping
The careful lecture was given to visitors.
A lecture on Japan lacquer was given in the same place of the exhibition (the seventh floor of Japan Club) from 7 pm to 9 pm on October 8, (Thursday). Demonstration of urushi tapping and coating, and also tasting of Japanese sake with Joboji lacquerware were conducted. Following this year’s concept that it is necessary to use lacquerware actually so as to convey its merit, we made opportunities for drinking Nanbu Bijin with a small sake cup of Joboji urushi.
At the lecture by lacquer craftsman, these things were told; only Joboji can manage consistent manufacturing from procurement of materials to producing, lacquerware can be used through one’s life because it can be repaired (mending and re-coating) and, it is safe for the body due to natural paints. Visitors then showed great interest in it.
Since visitors listened to the people involved in sake and lacquer craftsman closely, the venue was full of homey sense of unity and questions and answers were greatly warmed up While this proper event was held as a paid event, visitors more than the quota came and we had to add more seats in a hurry. Consequently, it was very successful.
The lecture on compatibility of lacquerware and Japanese sake
Lacquer scratching experience
The lecture on Joboji urushi
Actual tasting with Joboji lacquerware
Promotions of using Joboji lacquerware were conducted in exclusive Japanese restaurants that were leading in New York from October 6, (Tuesday) to October 9, (Friday). Lacquer craftsman described the merit of lacquerware and how to use it directly to restaurant owners and chefs as well as top sales by Ninohe Mayor’s visit in those restaurants. Supported by these three years’ performance, Joboji lacquerware came to be used in these five restaurants.
Top sales and mini-lectures on Joboji lacquerware were conducted in exclusive Japanese restaurants
This project started from two years ago to promote the revitalization of the local industry and sell the “Ninohe brand” in New York, and this was the last year of the project, and all the events ended successfully as how a project should. In particular, it is significant that exclusive Japanese restaurants in New York started to use Joboji lacquerware. Also, Joboji lacquerware brought from Japan were mostly sold, and we realized that the high quality and utility of Joboji urushi was valued in New York too.
Ninohe’s three-year project ended briefly, but the promotion of lacquerware to Japanese restaurants in New York is to be continued from now on. Mayor of Ninohe, Fujiwara has indicated its intention of aiming to expand overseas market from the next year, and it seems that this challenge supported by the joint operation of government and people will progress even more. We think this office will continue to carefully watch and support Ninohe’s project in the future.
Assistant director, Matsushige