top of page

Coming this holiday season: Japan veteran Bruce Rutledge gives us an inside look at the world of Japan’s urushi lacquerware craftsmen. Interviews with the craftsmen reveal their dedication to centuries-old traditions and the challenges they face in a quickly changing, digital world. Color photos of the craftsmen at work and the exquisite products they make run throughout the book.


This beautiful hardback book from the same publisher that produced the award-winning Shiro, Yokohama Yankee, and Are You an Echo? is lush with photographs of the craftsmen in Yamanaka Onsen and Sabae, where lacquerware work has been conducted for centuries. The book also shows the modern applications for urushi, from a popular pub in Tokyo’s posh Roppongi district that is covered wall to ceiling in lacquer to exquisite Chopard watch faces and other surprising applications. Rutledge finds that while the time-tested work of the craftsmen produces unique pieces of art that will last a lifetime, the craftsmen now have to look overseas for orders as their country ages and domestic demand dwindles. Will non-Japanese art collectors see the beauty of their work or will these traditions be lost to future generations?

When the Waves Came follows the lives of a hairdresser, a café owner, a cattle rancher, and a nuclear-energy worker from the moment the 2011 tsunami hit Japan's Tohoku region through the subsequent years of recovery, grief, and frustration. Larson chronicles how the destruction of the tsunami and the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident reshaped lives up and down the coast of northeastern Japan, altering the trajectory of an entire nation in the process. The book narrates the survivors’ attempts to recover what they had lost in spite of the Japanese governments' haphazard response.


M.W. LARSON earned his MFA at The Ohio State University and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A former Fulbright scholar he has published fiction and nonfiction in Colorado Review, The Iowa Review, Ninth Letter, and Witness. He lives with his wife in Tokyo and teaches English and writing at the University of Tsukuba.

Japan's Urushi Craftsmen

    bottom of page