About Wajima-nuri


Wajima is the name of the area where the lacquerware is produced and nuri means urushi coating. There are many traditional nuri crafts in Japan. Among these, Wajima-nuri has been officially recognized as the best. Through the trial and error of many different processes, our ancestors discovered the best way of making durable bowls. Consequently, more than 120 stages are employed to attain Wajima-nuri’s exceptional durability. The final thick coat of urushi produces a deep luster which can also enhance rich decorative techniques. To ensure the consistent high quality, labour is carefully organized with each stage of production being carried out by skilled craftsmen. The inherent value of Wajima-nuri lies in the fact that whilst it is both practical, it is also a form of art.

Wajima-nuri : a pleasure to own

Wajima-nuri is ideal for your table because it is intended for everyday use. A Wajima-nuri bowl can distribute heat from hot soup evenly and keeps food warm. Strangely enough, the luster of a bowl will gradually improve the more you use it as you polish it naturally through handling. If a Wajima-nuri product is damaged it can be easily repaired and so can be passed on to children and even grandchildren.

Creation of Wajima-nuri

The careful handwork of Wajima craftsmen produces broad range of solid and graceful lacquerware. Of all the steps involved in the production of these pieces, the process of applying the lacquer is the most complex, and there are as many as 124 steps.

  1. Aragata (Approximate Pattern)
    The wood is carved into a very rough bowl shape and smoked and dried.
  2. Arabiki (Approximate Carving)
    This raw piece is carved into a coarse bowl which is a little bigger than the actual, finished work.
    It is then smoked and dried again.
  3. Kiji (Core)
    The outside, the inside, and the bottom of the bowl are then turned on a lathe.
  4. Kijigatame (Hardening the Core)
    Kokuso (a mixture of crude lacquer, Zelkova tree powder, and rice glue) is used to reinforce joints and fill any gaps in the core, and this piece is soaked thoroughly with crude lacquer.
  5. Nunokise (Pasting Cloth)
    Cloth is pasted onto fragile parts such as the rim or the bottom.
  6. Somijitsuke (Application of Somi Lacquer)
    Somi lacquer is applied to fill the gaps between the cloth and the wood.
  7. Ippenjitsuke (First Application of Ji)
    The entire core is repeatedly coated with crude lacquer mixed with jinoko and rice glue.
  8. Ippenjitogi (First polishing)
    The bowl is polished and smoothed with a whetstone, and dust is removed.
  9. Sannpenjitsuke (Third Application of Ji)
    An undercoating of the finest jinoko is applied over the entire core.
  10. Jitogi (Polishing of Ji)
    After the third coating is dry, the entire bowl is polished using water and a whetstone
  11. Nakanuri (Intermediate Coatings)
    The bowl is coated with Nakanuri lacquer, which will soak into the undercoating and strengthen it. It is then put in a “nushi bath” for drying.
  12. Nakanuritogi (Polishing of Nakanuri)
    The bowl is polished using water and a blue whetstone or Suruga charcoal.
  13. Uwanuri (Finish coatings)
    The bowl is carefully coated with the best quality lacquer so that there will be no trace of brush strokes.
  14. Roiro
    The surface of the bowl is polished with Roiro charcoal. Then it is soaked in crude lacquer and polished repeatedly.
  15. Maki-e
    Pictures are drawn on the bowl with colored lacquer. Before the lacquer is dry, powdered gold or silveris scattered over the pictures.
  16. Chinkin
    Pictures are carved into the bowl and lacquer is applied to the carving. Then gold leaf is placed on this and pressed firmly into the grooves.