Japanese traditional craft “Shippo-yaki” has turned into sushi?! The fascinating world of contemporary artist Hiroko Joshin.

Do you know “Shippo-yaki,” a type of cloisonné enamelware characterized by distinctive porcelain-like luster and the use of vivid colors? This Japanese traditional craft has been gaining the spotlight again through its reinterpretation by a young artist with her contemporary perspective.

Shippo-yaki, whose literal translation is “seven treasures ware,” is a type of Japanese traditional craft. It was named so for its beauty that is comparable to the seven treasures that are highly valued in Buddhism.

Shippo-yaki is made by applying glaze to metals, such as gold, silver, and copper, and putting it through a firing process at around 800°C. The glaze is made by turning a variety of colored glass into powder, and that creates colorful hues and a sense of transparency. In some cases, the products go through several polishing processes using polishing stones after firing for an even more beautiful surface.

A wide range of pieces, including accessories for daily use and artistic pieces that look like drawings, that have been created through many different processes feature a wide array of rich, vivid colors, reflecting the delicate sensibility and craftsmanship of Japanese people.

Artist Hiroko Joshin creates her works based on the things that she thinks “beautiful” or “interesting,” using one of the Shippo-yaki techniques called “yusen Shippo” (meaning “wired cloisonne”).

Hareno Kotobuki Tai (2023) This piece depicts a bite-sized sushi ball adorned with a cherry blossom pattern and wrapped with a piece of red sea bream, which is considered a good luck fish.

Sosai Moyo (2023) This piece delicately depicts colorful vegetables using the Shippo-yaki technique.

For example, her “Meshiagarimono” (meaning “Foodstuff”) series, one of her famous series, is her attempt to depict unique Japanese foods, such as bite-sized sushi balls, by making use of the colors and transparency of glass as well as the delicate use of metals unique to Shippo-yaki. These meticulously-made cute, and at the same time humorous, pieces are therapeutic to look at.

Kotobuki (2015) These are pieces inspired by bite-sized sushi balls (called “Temari Sushi”) featuring a cute round shape.

Akanesasu (2022) This piece is a recreation of a piece of deliciously-marbled beef.

Haruwo Mukaeru (2020) This is a piece inspired by “Tai Meshi ”(meaning “red sea bream over rice”). Red sea breams come into season in spring.

Works of Hiroko Joshin are available at the Crafts section at Kyoto Tsutaya Books, on Wakomono Hanakagesho’s online shop, and so on. Let’s go see in person a variety of works that are bringing fresh blood into the world of traditional Japanese crafts.

■DATA Official Website: http://www.hirokojoshin.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hiroko_joshin/ (Information as of May 2024)

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