Lost wax casting is the process by which a metal object is casted from a duplicated object made with wax and this technique can be found in other countries too.
The history of the lost wax casting in Niigata (新潟) began about 670 years ago, when the craftsmen were invited to Okubo (大久保) area in Niigata from Oosaka. Hara Souemon (原惣右ェ門) family history also dates back to that period.
The lost wax casting industry flourished in Edo period (1603 – 1868), but the drastic change in our lifestyle to westernization in Meiji period also led us to neglect our traditional culture and crafts resulting in the loss of lost wax casting craftsmen. Hara Souemon, however, retained their traditional technique by passing on to the next generations and they have still been making the metal objects with the same methods.
Their main products are the incense holders. When you light an incense, you need to open the lid and it is closed when the light goes off.
I personally love the smell of incense, so I light 5 insence sticks every morning at the same time just before opening my store and then 1 stick every now and then.
The beauty of using incense is that you can enjoy visually the insence is burning and the smoke comes out from it waves randomly even with the slightest movement of air. It is so peaceful to look at it.
Incense sticks generally burns about 30 minutes, but I always cut them into half, so I enjoy the fresh smell of incense for about 15 minutes and then smell fades away gradually, but I can still enjoy it for 1 or 2 hours afterward.
As you may have noticed, the colors of the surfaces are different, even though they are not coated. The melting point of copper is about 1,000 degree C and the finished products are heated to over 800 degree C to the point where they barely retain the shapes to form the oxidized coating. The color changes to the dark purple after that procedure, so it is called Hanshidou (斑紫銅) in Japanese. Han means patchesspotsspecks and Shi means purple and Dou means copper.
They have now been creating other products like vases and accessories too.
These are round shaped vases.
Frog necklaces and the bellow is sake cups.
They are absolutely works of art, but they are also practical to be used as tools and accessories. They are not cheap due to the way they are made, but I believe they are worth the price paying for and this crafts should be passed on to our next generations too.
The prices vary depending on the sizes and the small incense holders will cost you around 26,000 yen and the large one on this blog with three legs is around 70,000yen.
The vases and sake cups are around 10,000yen (the small vases are cheaper than that and the frog necklaces are around 15,000yen. I will let you know the exact prices of the products if you are interesed.
Should you have any queries or if you are interested in purchasing any of them, please feel free to contact us. We can also ship them overseas by EMS after confirming your payment by Paypal.
Alternatively if you happen to be in Tokyo, you can visit us in Aoyama
How to visit us in Tokyo?
The shop is only 1min walk from Gaienmae station exit 1b on Ginza line Tokyo Metro.
If you are a visitor to Japan, please bring your passport, so you can claim for tax free!
MA by So Shi Te
2-22-15 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku,
Tokyo Japan 107–0062