Kacchū is one of the crowning achievements of Japan's world-renowned traditional arts and crafts. The form of kacchū combines the sturdiness to repel an enemy's assault with a valorous form and an inspiring elegance. It has stirred the spirits of those who see it throughout the ages. In recent year, these artifacts have been increasingly rediscovered overseas, including in a large-scale exhibition of kacchū held in the United States, and have also been the focus of considerable attention as a collector's item.
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, is the town of Hikone. Hikone is home to 110,000 residents, as well as Hikone Castle, a national treasure. Hikone flourished as a castle town beneath the 350,000 stone castle of the Hikone Domain of the House of Ii. It is said to have once been the residence of countless artisans who worked to manufacture a variety of arms, beginning with kacchū. These techniques were ultimately shifted to the manufacture of Buddhist altars, artifacts used to perform Buddhist worship within the home, an art that still lives on as the world-renowned traditional art of Hikone.
Hand-crafted Hikone kacchū has today been reconstructed through the accumulation of sophisticated techniques passed down in Hikone, such as lacquering, decorative metal working, and the application of gold leaf. It is truly historically-accurate armor.
Hikone Buddhist Altar Business Cooperative Association
Chuocho 3-8, Hikone-shi, Shiga Pref. 522-0063, Japan
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