(h) Kaki - awase (mixture), or Kuro - shunkei (black Shunkei), from the name of its inventor. In this class of goods the wood is given a basis - hardening coat of branch lacquer mixed with lampblack, over which is laid a final single application of Jo - hana or Jo - chiu. This ware is made at Tokio, and is used for cheap rice - bowls and boxes. For the commonest kind of work a mixture of glue and lampblack, or persimmon juice and lampblack, is used, instead of branch lacquer, as a ground coat.
This kind also derives its name from the inventor. For making articles of this class, which show the natural grain of the wood, a mixture of Yoshino lacquer and gamboge is rubbed on with a hard brush, after which they are enclosed for a day in the press to dry, and then a costing of Shu - urushi (transparent lacquer, containing a proportion of Perilla ocymoides oil) is applied. When dry, it presents a polished surface, and it appears dark when at first finished, but in a few months becomes much lighter. A cheaper quality of Shunkei is made by using glue and gamboge or persimmon juice and oxide of iron for the undercoat, but though the colour has a better appearance at first, it gradually deteriorates. The best is made in the province of Dewa, at Akita. For the most part soft woods are used in making this ware.
Well - seasoned wood is selected, and the article having been carefully smoothed, a thin coating of Yoshino lacquer is applied with a brush, after which it is set to dry in the press for 12 hours. A coating of best Sabi is then applied with the spatula, and set to dry in the press as usual. This is ground completely away with a green whetstone. A coating of Nashiji (pure transparent lacquer) is now given, and the article is enclosed in the press for 24 hours. It is again ground with a green whetstone till no remains of the lacquer coating are apparent. Then follows a second coat of transparent lacquer, which, after drying as before, is ground smooth with a piece of Hiyaku - jikko (Lagerstrcemia indica) charcoal. Transparent lacquer is again applied with a piece of cotton - wool, and wiped off with soft paper, and the article is set to dry for 12 hours. Afterwards it is given a primary polish with an equal mixture of To-no-ko and deer's - horn ashes applied with a cotton cloth and a little oil. Next, a coating of Yoshino lacquer is applied with cotton - wool, wiped off with paper, and set to dry as before. At this stage only deer's - horn ashes, with a trifle of oil, are used for polishing.
This process is repeated 3 times, and results in an exceedingly brilliant polish. Only hard woods are used for this kind of ware.
For making best red and other coloured lacquers the first 22 processes are the same as in Honji (a). Next a mixture of Nashiji (pare transparent lacquer) and vermilion, or the colour desired, is given to the article, which is thereupon set to dry. The remainder of the processes are identical with (a), except that Yoshino lacquer is substituted for "branch lacquer," and transparent varnish is used instead of Ro (black lacquer). For extra high-class work, instead of the thin coating of lacquer, which is wiped off again, a thick coating of transparent varnish is given, applied with a brush, and set to dry for about 35 hours, the further processes remaining unchanged. For second - rate articles, the colour is mixed with Shu - urushi (transparent lacquer containing oil), and no after - polishing takes place. The article presents a brilliant surface, and the colour is better and brighter than in the best kind, but the surface is much less hard. Many processes are omitted for cheaper articles, as is the case in black lacquer, and less lacquer and more oil is used.
For red lacquer; used also mixed with gold - dust for shading.
Sometimes used instead of vermilion.
In the district of Aidzu the light colours are produced to the greatest perfection, viz., yellow, green, and intermediate shades. In Tokio, though the same materials are used, the resulting colours are inferior and darker. In Aidzu no after - polishing takes place with coloured lacquers. The lacquer is applied like paint. Tokio is, however, best for black lacquer, as well as for such high - class red, etc, as are polished afterwards. These differences are attributed to some climatic influence.
The Kioto, so - called "black lacquer," shows a reddish - brown tinge. With the exception of Tokio, Kioto, Osaka, Kaga, Tsugaru, Wakasa, Nagova, Suruga, and Shidzuoka, and one or two isolated places, the method of smoothing with charcoal, and afterwards polishing, is not pursued. In Tsugaru and Wakasa neither flat nor raised gold lacquer is manufactured.
It should be mentioned that the plain lacquered articles are almost exclusively manufactured by one set of workmen, who supply the workers in gold lacquer with the articles ready for the application of the gold powdering, various patterns, etc.
The wholesale lacquer trade is in the hands of a few large merchants. In Tokio there are 2 houses only. These receive the crude lacquer from the producers as it arrives from the various districts, either buying it outright or making advances to the contractors, who are bound by the rules of the guild to deliver only to them. They sell it in quantities as required to the lacquer manufacturers, who prepare and refine the sap for the market, and these again retail the material to the lacquer - workers. The various processes that the lacquer undergoes in the hands of the manufacturers before retailing are kept secret, only the approximate mixtures being known.