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Sekibi Kodo has a history dating back more than half a century selling award and prize-related goods. They were the first company to invent Japan’s first award plaque that uses Urushi lacquer. Mr. Masakuni Seki is the president of the company, producing a new style of lacquered items that use the traditional Aizu lacquering technique.
Mr. Seki moved to Tokyo at the age of 18 and spent his days as a businessman at Japan’s space agency. He came to a turning point while in his mid-thirties. He returned to Aizu, the place where he once left as a teen yearning to leave his hometown. There, he found interesting things that he had not noticed before. As Mr. Seki spent time drinking with the local people, he came to know the richness of the Aizu area where craftsmen had inherited traditional skills across generations. He says that he felt a shock, like that of his DNA awakening, as he tasted the unexpectedly delicious rice that was served in an Urushi lacquered bowl at an inn at Higashiyama Onsen.
There’s soil and produce, and you can feel the earth breathing. If you don’t live in such an environment, your thinking itself will become like a machine… As he recovered his “local” senses that he had lost while living in Tokyo, Mr. Seki made the decision to create goods based in Aizu that contribute to the local economy. Thus he inherited his family business, Sekibi Kodo – which was established by his grandfather - in 2007,
Another pillar of Sekibi Kodo’s business is “b Prese” which is a lifestyle store located in the city. Customers from afar started coming to the store as Mr. Seki introduced both domestic and international products that have high quality and good design and use unique manufacturing methods – items that Mr. Seki found with his keen eye that he nurtured during his days in Tokyo when he visited first-class interior shops daily.
Mr. Seki is also working to promote Aizu lacquer which is the local industry of Aizu. Aizu lacquered goods are born in an inland climate with a large difference in high and low temperatures, and are have both a durability that endures daily use and superb aesthetics. Mr. Seki started a new brand for Aizu lacquered goods called “BITOWA” in a partnership with several companies in the industry in 2006 to promote the appeal of Aizu lacquer.
Sekibi Kodo’s original products like the Hon-Urushi “Nodate Mug” and the Maki-e processed iPhone case ”CAVRE” were created by Aizu craftsmen. The company continues to develop a new series of outdoor products that can be enjoyed casually in a modern setting to change the notion that lacquered goods are difficult to use.
Sekibi Kodo has received an order for several hundred original lacquered iPhone cases using the “Kintsugi” repairing technique – which symbolizes recovery – from a foreign-owned company that liked Mr. Seki’s attitude towards the creation of his goods. Mr. Seki and Sekibi Kodo are steadily climbing the road to receiving high acclaim from the world for their traditional crafts.