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Inside The Deep Black World

Inside The Deep Black World

Documentary, HD colour, 90 minutes, production started 2015

In 2014 the Japanese lacquer artist Chitaka Hashimoto was awarded a special contract: to produce a lacquered box on par with the national treasures of Japan. During eight years the film has accompanied the complex process of producing this box and discovered the life of an extraordinary artist.


Toyama, a little town located close to the Japanese Alps, directly at the Japanese sea. Hashimoto lives with his wife and three little children in an old traditional cottage. What’s being designed here is a little lacquered box, measuring no more than 18 cm in diameter, in wich Hashimoto will invest all his craftsmanship and his profound knowledge of the Japanese Urushi lacquer. Urushi is a natural coating material which is obtained from the juice of the Urushi tree. The liquid raw juice is toxic and calls for complex processing.

The varnish undercoat alone requires 40 operational steps with between 7 and 10 layers of lacquer per step. Doing the undercoat has already taken two years. „It was hell,“ says Hashimoto, his eyes smiling but surrounded by dark circles, and he means it. Every single operational step requires patience and precision. Before him lies the next task, the gold and mother of pearl ornaments, which will demand highest concentration and skills.

The incredibly long and laborious production process, which will take eight years in total, is being compressed into 90 minutes of film. The intensive work is condensed. The repeating hand movements seem almost meditative in the film, while we witness the inner transformation of the artist. Before the box will be completed, Hashimoto will have to master many technical challenges and continue to evolve as artist and human being. By diving into his world, the film examines the act of human creativity.