Iwate urushitech

Our mission

Making "Urushi (=Japan)" a new industry for the modern age
through scientific methods.

Iwate Urushitech is a lacquer venture company that conducts research and development to improve the problems faced by the traditional lacquer industry in Iwate Prefecture, the largest domestic lacquer production area.

Although Japanese lacquer is highly regarded for its quality, it has become difficult to maintain a stable supply of high-quality lacquer due to issues such as securing raw wood and the heavy workload on craftsmen who have to collect and refine the lacquer manually. We are developing a new manufacturing method that follows traditional methods and combines them with scientific analysis and technology, thereby paving the way to overcoming these challenges. We also aim to develop new demand and sales channels by selling new products at affordable prices.

In order for lacquer, which has been called "JAPAN" in English, to be newly recognized as a traditional Japanese culture and technology in the modern world, it is necessary to scientifically prove the quality of lacquer produced by excellent craftsmanship. We are continuing our research day and night to give new value to lacquer through a scientific approach and to further develop the Japanese lacquer industry.

From a Fateful Encounter to a Business of Destiny The Story of Iwate Urushitech's Establishment

It all started with a single email

In March 2019, our organization, Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization, received an email from overseas.
It read something like this.

"My name is Lee Bok-Luel from Korea. I am currently working as a professor at Pusan National University and will retire in February next year (2020)*. I speak Japanese and English and would like to work as a volunteer at a Japanese paper workshop in Iwate to learn about washi making after I retire. I can also guide tourists in Korean and English."
(*) He will remain at Pusan National University until 2025.

A desire to work with lacquer over the past 30 years

We immediately responded to an e-mail from Professor Lee, who gave a very detailed self-introduction.

Worked on his doctoral program at Osaka University from 1982 to 1986 as a Monbusho (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) scholarship student after earning a master's degree in pharmaceutics at Pusan National University in 1981; during his four-year stay in Japan, he became interested in the production techniques of washi, the Japanese paper and lacquer products, which are scientifically and biologically excellent techniques, but was too busy with academic research to have time to learn.

After completing his doctoral studies at Osaka University, he spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. He has been teaching at Pusan National University for over 30 years since 1988, and during that time he has continued to develop a desire to learn about the techniques of making washi and lacquerware.

Mission of Iwate Urushitech

Washi and lacquer products are produced all over Japan, but we wonder if the fact that Professor Lee specified the region as "Iwate" in his first e-mail was destined for the establishment of our company. This is because our president, Mr. Oikawa, is from Iwate Prefecture, which is home to Joboji (Ninohe City), the largest lacquer production area in Japan.

We decided to coincide with Professor Lee's visit to Iwate in July by taking him to Tozan Washi in Ichinoseki City and to Tekisei-sha in Ninohe City. This visit to Iwate brought about a chemical reaction between Professor Lee's passion for research over the past 30 years and President Oikawa's hometown and entrepreneurial spirit, and the result was a company called Iwate Urushitech.

The establishment of Iwate Urushitech was a true testament to the inevitability of encounters. We will continue to strive to develop the lacquer industry in Japan for future generations as our mission.