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Japanese Lacquer Refinery

The closest partner to urushi foresters would be the refinery.  Refining artisan turns the Gift of Nature into a wide range of application material.  

箕輪漆行 (est. 1573)

Based at the beautiful foothill in Echizen, the Minowa family has been refining urushi lacquer and supplying quality material to shrine construction and lacquer craft production since 1573.   With over 2000 formulas for all-natural urushi, Minowa is not only a supplier, but also a valuable resource for urushi knowledge to many of us practicing the craft. 

We are honored to have received tremendous support from Minowa Lacquer Refinery. 

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The urushi tree​

The Urushi tree grows for about 8-10 years and would be ready for urushi sap tapping.   A 10-year-old tree yields only 200cc of urushi sap, quantity equivalent to 1 small milk-bottle.  

The Minowa workshop is guarded by this urushi tree for 50 some years, a reminder of the beautiful gift that urushi trees have been providing for people in Japan.  

Refining

Servicing the population of professional lacquer artist and artisans, Minowa refinery artisans are highly-skilled, playing an important role in continuing the urushi legacy in Echizen, the origin of the craft.  

25˚C+

The temperature required for urushi to polymerize is 25ºC and above. 

75%+

Humidity.  75-80% is the ideal humidity.

The higher the humidity the faster urushi cures.  

97%

Supply

Currently, more than 97% of raw urushi is imported from China and refined in Japan.  Domestic-grown urushi market share is small with insufficient successors.

 

Until recent years Japan acknowledges the importance of maintaining home-grown urushi. Local provincial government is working very hard to revitalize its domestic urushi growing and tapping industry.  

As part of the effort, we are featuring in-depth story on Japan-grown urushi.  Please visit the feature pages and learn about their heritage, effort and challenges.  

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Urushi is more than a coating paint.
It is a living material which artisans in Japan have mastered for thousands of years
and are still sharing their knowledge and intelligence to the world.