Urushi (Japanese lacquer) 101

Urushi (Japanese lacquer) 101

Published by Toshi on 20th Aug 2019

When you spell Japan with the uppercase letter “J”, it’s my country. When you spell japan with the lowercase letter “j”, it means Urushi.

1. What is Urushi?

Japan vs japan

【Fig.1】Japan vs japan

The Urushi is a traditional Japanese natural resin lacquer. It is made from the sap of the lacquer tree (or urushi tree), which is a native to south-eastern Asia. They make slashes in the tree to harvest the sap. After several filtration through special papers, you get a semi-transparent amber lacquer. 

Urushi trees

【Fig.2】Urushi trees

2. History of Urushi

They say the Urushi techniques appeared in Japan more than 9,000 years ago. After coating, the lacquer polymerizes when exposed to moisture and air. It forms a hard and durable waterproof film, which withstands erosion from acids, alkalies, and alcohol.

Above all, the unparalleled dewy and sleek appearance makes it unique and spectacular art form in Japan. No artificial material can match the beauty of Urushi. Urushi tableware became an essential part of the high-class Japanese cuisine.

3. Urushi in the world heritage

The lacquer has been used not only for tableware, but also buildings and Buddha statues. Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Temple) in Kyoto is a good example. It’s one of the most visited world heritages in Japan. As you can see in the picture below, it is covered with a large amount of gold leaf. 

Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Temple)

【Fig.3】Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Temple)

But the Kinkaku-ji’s appearance is not just golden. It has a little reddish undertone with incredible depth. This is because Urushi is applied underneath the gold leaf. If you apply the gold leaf directly on the wooden wall, you only get a yellowish shiny appearance. The combination of Urushi and gold leaf makes the unparalleled beauty. It attracts countless number of people from all over the world.

Another famous example is The Chuson-ji Golden Hall. It’s the world heritage, too. From these examples, you can see Urushi and golden leaf are an excellent match.

Chuson-ji Golden Hall

【Fig.4】Chuson-ji Golden Hall

4. Urushi weak points

Urushi’s beauty and durability last for centuries, as long as it keeps absorbing moisture in the air. There are many Urushi lacquerware in Japan, which date back to thousands of years before. Japan’s humid climate is ideal for their preservation.

On the other hand, it’s vulnerable to dryness. Many lacquerware exported to Europe and the USA suffer from cracking and delamination. 

And there’s another disadvantage of the Urushi lacquerware in the western culture. You can’t use cutleries. Even though it’s hard and durable, you can make scratches on the surface by using a knife and fork. You can’t use dishwashers, either.

5. Syosaku Urushi Glass Plates

We have invented a revolutionary technique, which brings the Urushi to the modern western lifestyle. The state-of-the-art technology involves the super transparent materials and special layers. As you can see the structure below, the Urushi layer is sandwiched by special glass materials. It is perfectly protected from dryness, cutleries, and dishwashers. 

【Fig.5】Structure of the Syosaku Urushi Glass Plate

In addition, we carefully select pigments with the best compatibility with the Urushi. It even enhances the beauty of Urushi beyond comparison.

Altogether, the Syosaku Urushi Glass plates present you the one and only glamorous colors with incredible depth. At the same time, they have vivid clearness you can never have with china and porcelain.

They are world’s first and one-of-a-kind tableware like no other. 

We have published a 68 page gorgeous eBook with full of beautiful pictures of the plates and their uses. If you don't have it yet, download it by clicking the photo below. Feast your eyes on the Syosaku Urushi Glass Plates! 


Link to download the free eBook

For more details, send us an email.

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Urushi glass plate series 001

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