On the one hand: an ancient Japanese lacquerware technique dating back to the Heian Period (794-1185), famed for its delicate beauty, seasonal motifs and rich heritage. On the other: a 6-year-old girl who finds it hard to sit still and would rather be making “machines” out of twigs, stones and sticky tape.

I admit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when my youngest daughter came face-to-face with the very refined world of maki-e during a children’s workshop in a century-old atelier in Nagano Prefecture.

The art of maki-e has long been treasured in Japan. A clue into the craftsmanship that lies behind the lacquerware decoration technique is found in its name — which translates as “sprinkled picture.”