/ urushi lacquer

漆は、漆科・うるし属の木から採れる樹液を加工した天然の樹脂塗料です。縄文時代から塗料として重宝され、また、貝を貼る螺殿(らでん)細工や陶磁器の割れや欠けの補修に用いられる等、接着材としても使われてきました。産地は津軽、会津、輪島、山中、飛騨、小田原、香川 等々、日本各地に存在し、古い歴史を持っています。食卓で使うお椀やお箸に始まり、お茶道具、家具、インテリア、アクセサリー、絵画やオブジェ等のアートなど、様々な場面で日本人の生活文化と密接に関わってきました。かぶれる、手間がかかる、敷居が高い、高価などと言われるものの、縄文時代から今日まで伝承されている事実がその絶対的な魅力と有意性を物語っています。漆という字は「人」・「木」・「水」との組み合わせ。ここに込められた意味は、一考の価値があるように感じられます。

The deep and rich texture and its unique luster of Urushi, it is said that the name was taken from the word “Uruwashi”(=elegant and beautiful) or “Uruoshi”(=moist, enrich).
Urushi is a natural resin lacquer which is made by processing the sap collected from Urushi tree (Toxicodendron, Anacardiaceae).
Urushi has quite long history. It has been used as a paint since Jomon-era, and also as a glue such as in the method of “Raden - Zaiku”(mother-of-pearl work, gluing shining parts of shells for decoration) or “Kintsugi”(golden repair, repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, etc.)
Urushi is produced for long time in various places throughout Japan e.g. Tsugaru(Aomori), Aizu(Fukushima), Wajima(Ishikawa), Hida(Gifu), Odawara(Kanagawa), Kagawa(Kagawa), and so on.
Tableware e.g. bowls and chopsticks, tea ceremony wares, furniture, interior items, accessories, fine arts such as drawings and pictures and objects… Urushi technique has been closely and deeply related with our lifestyles of Japanese.
In our modern lifestyle, Urushi can be sometimes slightly put away as its possibility of lacquer poisoning, time-and-effort consuming characteristic both in production and maintenance, too formal for daily use, expensive, etc. However, the fact that Urushi technique has survived over incredibly long time since Jomon period(approx. 16,000-3,000 years ago) tells us its absolutely attractive nature of beauty and utility.
The Chinese character for Urushi is consists of the parts meaning “Human being”, “Wood”, and “Water” - this packaged letter leads us to a journey to think about its meaning.