A cry from Wajima: the impact of the Noto Peninsula New Year’s Day Earthquake on the lacquer industry

Third Thursday lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 15 February, 2024
6:00pm GMT - 7:00pm GMT


Online lecture via Zoom.
50 min lecture followed by Q&A.
Free and open to all, booking essential.
To check your time zone conversion if you are joining from outside the UK, click here.

About the Talk

At 16:10 on 1 January 2024 a major earthquake hit the Noto peninsula, home to Wajima-nuri, the world-renowned urushi (lacquer). As of early February some 240 people are reported to have died, with 50,000 buildings damaged or destroyed and 14,000 people in temporary evacuation centres. We extend our deepest sympathies to everyone affected by this devastating disaster.

Over the last month we have been reaching out to friends and colleagues impacted by the disaster, and dedicate our February Third Thursday to reporting on the situation in Noto now, in particular the city of Wajima where much of the city centre was destroyed. Encouraged by the determination and resilience of the survivors, assisted by some 20,000 volunteers, we chose to focus on the impact on the urushi industry for which the region is so famous, which now faces an existential threat.

About the Speakers

This online event will feature a new report from Murose Tomoya, a recorded conversation between him and his father, Living National Treasure lacquer specialist Murose Kazumi, and will include a presentation by Masami Yamada, Curator in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Asia Department. She has particular responsibility for the collections of Japanese lacquerware, netsuke, ukiyo-e woodblock prints and contemporary craft. Her current area of research is contemporary craft, particularly the work of urushi lacquer artists. In preparing for this event we were greatly assisted by Kathleen Benoza of the Japan Times who reported from several parts of the Noto Peninsula to cover the immediate aftermath.

Here are a number of links to related articles and posts:

Japan Times Noto earthquake coverage

Report from Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

In the aftermath of Japan’s Noto earthquake, what’s next for Ishikawa crafts? (Wallpaper)


Image: The effects of the earthquake at Wajima (top left). Lacquer tray by Kado Isaburо̄ (1940-2004), 1985. V&A Museum, FE.2-1986 (bottom left).  Haru no nana-kusa, source: ColBase: Integrated Collections Database of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage, Japan (right).

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The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK.