Ishikawa prefecture is well known for its traditional arts and crafts such as yuzen kimonos, kutani ware, and the maki-e (decorated lacquer).
The Kaga region is especially renowned for their lacquerware decorated with maki-e, and those designed with chrysanthemum and pine needles are considered luxury products. Lacquerware has gradually become available for a broader audience and these days we see many varieties and designs. The Japanese-style lunch box, or "bento-box," from Tatsumiya is definitely something worth checking out.
Each lunchbox is hand-drawn by professional lacquerware artists from Kaga. Every one of them is carefully designed on a turning table, with those needing lamination given to another craftsman to add a silkscreen layer. Both processes require experience and technical skill, and thus these lunch boxes can only be produced in this region.
The lunch boxes come in various designs, including the traditional rectangular shape. We recommend, however, the cylindrical "Kokeshi"-type lunch box. Kokeshi are traditional wooden dolls, with cylindrical bodies, round wooden heads, and a kimono design. The designs on these kokeshi-inspired lunch boxes include feudal lords, samurai, princesses, geisha, and characters from folk tales like "Momotaro" and "Urashima Taro."
They come in two stacks with a lid on the top that can be used as a bowl. The upper stack has an internal lid to prevent any leakage. They also have large sized lunch boxes for those with larger appetites. There are ones with traditional designs such as the cherry blossom, as well as oval shaped boxes layered with Japanese cloth.
The lunch boxes are priced a little higher than others you might find, but this reflects the quality of these products – hand-crafted, well-designed, and durable. They are available for purchase at the duty free shops at Haneda and Narita airport, or online (details below). How about an exceptional yet useful souvenir for your overseas friends, families, or even yourself?