(A) For Plain Work

Ki-urushi (crude lacquer) is the generic name by which all lacquer obtained from the trunks of live trees is known. It forms the basis of nearly all the various mixtures used in making lacquer ware.

Naktanuri-Urushi (Middle - Painting Varnish)

This is merely the crude lacquer. After having been exposed for some time to the sun to darken it, and to get rid of all water, it is used for under - coats for making first - class ware.

Nuritate - Urushi (Finishing Lacquer)

This is a mixture of crude lacquer and a little turpentine with to-midzu (whetstone water), being the mixture obtained from whetstones on which blades have been sharpened. In it is some 7 to 8 per cent. of iron, and after mixing, the whole is exposed to the sun, both for the purpose of getting rid of all the water, and to darken the colour. This is used for final coats of cheap lacquer, which is not polished afterwards.


This is a mixture of the above kind, with oil obtained from the ye plant (Pecilla ocymoides). This is used for still more common kinds requiring no after polishing, and the lacquer does not present a hard surface.

Jo-Chin, Called In Kioto, Chiu - Hana; Jo-Tame, Called In Kioto, Ge-Hani

r These contain more and more oil, and are used for the commonest articles, such as for varnishing clogs, clothes - baskets, etc. These 3 last kinds give a high polish, but the lacquer does not last.

Shu-Urushi (Vermilion Lacquer)

This is the best crude or transparent varnish mixed with ye oil (Perilla ocymoides), sometimes as much as 50 percent. being added. It is then exposed to the sun, and water is added, which is afterwards evaporated. This kind is only used for red (whence its name) and coloured lacquers; the colours being added at the time of application. It requires no after - polishing.

(B) For Lacquering With Gold

Nashiji - Urushi (Pear Basis Lacquer), Or Suki - Urushi (Transparent Lacquer)

The first name is that best known in the trade, as indicating that it is required for using over gold, silver, or tin powdering. It consists of the finest crude lacquer obtained from old trees. As stated previously, the lacquer is allowed to stand till all dirt and foreign matter have sunk to the bottom, when the best is skimmed off, and after being exposed to the sun to evaporate the water in the usual manner, and carefully filtered, it is ready for use. Except when used for the highest class of gold powdering, a certain proportion of gamboge is mixed with the lacquer to give the dust a fine yellow colour.

N.B. - The following 10 kinds are all bought by the lacquer - workers ready prepared from the manufacturers. Any further mixtures used by them are made as required, colours added, etc.

Seshime - urushi (branch lacquer) and Ro - urushi are used also in making gold lacquer.

Yoshino - Urushi

This is crude lacquer from the district of Yoshine, in the province of Yamato. It dries quickly, and closely resembles transparent varnish. It is used when giving the final coats before polishing.

Yoshino - Nobe - Urushi (Yoshino Spreading Lacquer)

Same as above, with the addition of about J of camphor to render the lacquer thinner and more easy to spread.

Seshime - Nobe - Urushi (Spreading Branch Lacquer)

This is merely branch lacquer with the same proportion of camphor as above; when cheap work is required, more camphor is used till the proportions are reversed. This renders the mixture very soft, and a small quantity can be spread over a large surface.

Shita - Maki - Urushi (Under - Coat Lacquer)

A mixture of branch lacquer and benigara (red oxide of iron), in equal parts by weight.

Ke - Uchi - Urushi (Inside Line Lacquer)

This is the same as above, but it is allowed to stand for about 6 months after mixing before it is used. By this time it has got thicker, and the very finest lines can be drawn without fear of their running; they, moreover, stand out better.

Shita - Maki - Nobe - Urushi (Under - Coat Spreading Lacquer)

Same composition as above, with the addition of a little camphor to make the lacquer thin. It thus goes much further, and causes a great saving when lacquering with powdered gold - leaf (keshi fun), for which it is best suited. As in the other mix. tures, the more camphor is used, the thinner it renders the lacquer, and the less gold is required.

Taka - Maki - Urushi (Raised Lacquer)

To make this, a certain quantity of ro or nuritate is taken and divided into 3 parts. To 1 part is added lampblack and camphor, in equal proportions of bulk. These, after being well mixed, are boiled together; then the other 2 portions are added, and the whole stirred together, and afterwards filtered through paper. It is boiled more or less according to the season. In summer, when lacquer dries quickly, it is boiled for a longer period; while in winter or during cold weather, when lacquer naturally takes longer to dry, the mixture is boiled for a shorter time. The reason why Taka - maki is thus purposely rendered soft, is explained by the fact that otherwise the upper surface would harden at once, while the under portion, Taki - maka (being applied thickly), being excluded from the upper air, would not be able to dry, and later, the top surface would crack and show fissures; whereas the introduction of camphor renders it soft and much slower to dry, and the whole has thus time to harden equally.

Camphor being volatile, is gradually lost, and the composition becomes quite hard.

Ro-Se-Urushl (A Mixture Of Black And Branch Lacquer)

This is used for the lacquer coating upon which gold, silver, or tin powder is scattered, except in such cases where the grain of the wood is to be shown, when Nashiji lacquer is used instead.

Kuna-Urushi (Shading Lacquer)

A mixture of Johana lacquer and lampblack, used for final shading in the feathers of birds or animals, or for drawing hair, etc, on flat and raised gold lacquer.