Violin with Wajima Lacquer Coating Found Safe in Japan’s Quake Debris; Designer Hopes for Performance to Offer Gratitude

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Takahiro Yatsui holds a violin coated with Wajima lacquer in front of his company’s destroyed workshop building in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture.

WAJIMA, Ishikawa — A violin coated with Wajima lacquer has been found intact in the debris of a Wajima lacquerware manufacturing and retailing company’s workshop building in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, which collapsed following January’s Noto Peninsula Earthquake.

Wajima lacquerware is a traditional craft of Wajima .

Hirochika Yatsui, 86, the former president of Daitetsu Yatsui Shikki Kobo, is a skilled craftsman. Using his expertise, he has applied Wajima lacquer coating techniques to stringed instruments, including the violin.

Yatsui hopes that he can express his gratitude to the people who are helping to rebuild the quake-stricken region by having a musician play a performance with the violin.

When Yatsui studied art and culture in Europe, he paid close attention to the process of varnishing the surfaces of violins and other musical instruments for protection and other purposes. He came up with the idea of using the Wajima lacquerware technique for this process.

With the support of a musical instrument store, he has applied lacquer to about 20 violins, cellos and violas using the technique.

In 2018, one of the violins entered the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A concert using the violin was also held.

Three violins coated with Wajima lacquer that had been on display at Yatsui’s home and shop suffered damages from the Jan. 1 quake, such as strings moving out of place and the toppling of the soundpost, an important violin part that transmits the string vibrations inside the instrument.

Another Wajima lacquerware violin was stored in the company’s workshop about two kilometers away. The building’s first floor was destroyed in the quake, causing the entire building to collapse.

On Feb. 5, Takahiro Yatsui, 54, the current president of the company and Hirochika Yatsui’s eldest son, discovered the violin in the debris of the destroyed building. It was left undamaged in a violin case.

“I felt like I had found buried treasure. I was overjoyed,” he said.