1. Shikake
A shibo-urushi (dappled lacquer), also called shikake-urushi (beginning lacquer), is applied to the piece with a tool called a shikake-bera. The piece is dried under low moisture conditions in the urushi-buro (lacquer drying box) for approximately two days, after which the moisture in the urushi-buro is raised to about 80 percent and the piece is further hardened for five more days.

2. Nuri-kake
A layer of yellow lacquer is applied over the entire surface with a lacquer brush.

3. Sai-shiki
Splotches of red and green lacquer are applied over the piece in the sai-shiki (colored lacquer) step, producing what is referred to as ichi-matsu-jyo.

4. Ro-nuri
A layer of black lacquer is applied.

5. Tsuma-nuri
Providing a powerful contrast to the other colored lacquers that preceded it, a layer of a tin-powdered lacquer called susubun is applied.

6. Age-nuri
Finally a colored surface lacquer is applied, which is followed by clear finishing layers. The final layer provides the naming: a red layer is dubbed aka-age-no-karanuri; a green layer being ao-age-no-karanuri; and a clear layer ro-age-no-karanuri. Sanding through the uneven surface created in the splotches of the ichi-matsu-jyo and the shikake step reveals the colored layers of lacquer underneath and creates the kara-nuri pattern.


A base coat of lacquer, called the seed lacquer, is applied to the piece.

While this tane-urushi is still wet, na-tane (rape berry seeds) are spread on the surface.

3. Setting Step
The piece is then left for approximately one hour (thirty-minutes in the winter), over which the seeds settle slightly into the wet lacquer.

4. Tane-urushi Drying
The piece is then hardened in the urushi-buro (lacquer drying box) for several days.

5. Tane-hagi
Fully dried and hardened, the seeds can now be scrapped off, being careful not to damage the cratered surface left by the seed impressions.

6. Kara-tori
It is very important to ensure that any remaining seed husks which may be stuck to the dried lacquer are removed.

7. Drying
Ensuring that the lacquer is completely hardened, the piece may be dried in the urushi-buro for 4-5 days in summer or 5-6 days in winter,.

8. Tane-urushi Polishing
Using a whetstone, the piece is lightly sanded to ensure level cratered surface.

9. Age-urushi-nuri
Using a lacquer brush, a surface layer of colored lacquer is applied.

10. Age-urushi Polishing
The surface is vigorously sanded, after which the piece is dried for one day.

11. Tomo-urushi-nuri
Sanding down through the craters created by the seed impressions, now overlain with a different colored lacquer to an even surface reveals a multitude of fine circles. Ensuring that one does not sand through the lacquer requires a delicate touch ? thus the reference to tomo-urushi, a friendly layer that indicates when to stop sanding.

12. Shi-age Polishing
Additional finishing lacquer coatings are followed by final surface polishing.

1. Base drawing
A base drawing, the monyo-gaki (crest drawing) is etched in a mon-urushi lacquer layer.

2. Shamaki
The fine black powder of burned rice husks (momi-gara sumi-ko) is spread on the wet lacquer surface.

3. Sumiko-harai
The excess momi-gara sumi-ko is shaken off the piece and the piece is dried for two or three days.

4. Shamaki
After light sanding, the shamaki step is repeated, including the drying periods. After these repetitions, the piece is left to fully harden for about seven days.

5. Kara-togi
The piece is lightly sanded.

6. Lacquer Coating
A lacquer coating is applied.

7. Shiage-togi
A more vigorous sanding is done.

8. Sumi-togi
Sanding with charcoal powder is done.

9. Suri-urushi
A very fine lacquer coating is applied, which is then wiped with Japanese paper.

10. Tsuya-tsuke
The piece is polished with a charcoals made of deer antlers and rape seed oil.

11. Sumi-urushi and Tsuya-tsuke Repeated

The final polishing steps are repeated, using the fingers to polish the piece.

                                From Appare! Tsugaru Nuri, by Sato Takeji,
Hirosaki University Press