The ‘Nikkō Shrines and Temples’ complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising a number of significant religious buildings and their natural surroundings, is currently undergoing large-scale restoration work. This twenty-year project, dubbed the Heisei Restoration, is now in its eleventh year, with repairs on the main hall at Nikkō Tōshōgū Shrine well underway.
Much of the work on the massive and ornately decorated timber structures involves restoring the timber and renewing the urushi lacquer coating that protects the wood from the elements.
Manabi-Japan visited Nikkō and spoke to urushi craftsman, Noritake Satō. An expert in urushi lacquer and its use in restoration work, Satō san is currently immersed in this project, which involves researching and using the same techniques used 400 years ago in the Edo Period. As he approaches retirement, Satō san is committed to ensuring that this know-how is preserved for future generations.