撮影:大屋孝雄

Photo: Takao Oya

Urushi (lacquar) Coated Wooden Bowl That Reached the Summit Murose Kazumi + The Mejiro Urushi Studio (close)

Recently, I find myself regularly using the phrase “urushi (lacquar) coated wooden bowl with rice” in my lectures. Urushi bowls are different from the ceramic ones, as they have low thermal conductivity and keep the heat longer. As urushi absorbs the moisture of the delicious warm rice, you can eat even the last grains of it. After one of my talks on urushi bowls, Yûta Miura approached me and mentioned that his father, Yûichirô Miura, is to climb Mount Everest. Mountaineers in the base camp typically use vessels made of aluminum and synthetic materials. These are very light and easy to carry, but at 8,000 metres the soup poured into these bowls gets cold very quickly. That is why Yûta wanted to know more about the urushi bowls. Yûta explained that under the extreme conditions of the high altitude, a warm meal is very important both mentally and physically, and a hot bowl is essential to keep the body warm. I wished them success in their endeavour by presenting them with urushi bowls so they could enjoy delicious hot meals on the summit. I was also curious to see what happens to the urushi on high altitude. As a parting gift, I prepared sets of large and small urushi bowls for 15 members of the team. On May 23 2013, Yûichirô Miura at the age of 80 successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest at 8,848 metres. After their return, Yûta Miura visited my studio and showed me the photographs taken on Mount Everest and he also brought along the bowl. The photos served as proofs of the fact that the team members always had hot meals such as nabe, donburi etc. using the urushi bowls. It made me very happy. The bowl that returned from the top of the world is intact, despite of the extreme temperatures: 50℃ at daytime and -40℃ at night. The urushi coating withstood the severe conditions and protected the wooden bowl. This demonstrates the strength and beauty of urushi. Only the best wooden bowl, the one coated with urushi could survive the trip to the top of the world. Most of us became familiar with the qualities of urushi through the bowls we often use. This time I made exactly the same bowls that the mountaineers used on Mount Everest, so please enjoy the warmth and strength of the urushi.  -- by Murose Kazumi

4F Mizuno Building, 1-15-14 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061 Japan 03-3564-8225 11:00 - 19:00 Sunday and Holiday