(日本語は後ろにあります)

When the wood work has been finished, the process of nuri-coating starts at Ishikawa-Shippohdo. They were founded by the grandfather of the current owner after World War ll, and as a nuri-shi trader he engaged in all the processes and shipped his products for sale. Even nowadays, they are still sticking to the same manufacturing style as before – to do kiji-gatame and apply uwa-nuri at their own workshop - and sell the remarkable lacquerware finished with the finest urushi using locally sourced kiji.

The first process to be taken at Ishikawa Shippohdo is to purify the urushi sap, which is called urushi-gatame. This is to remove physical impurities that may have mixed with the sap whilst it was collected. This is a vital stage in preparation for the perfectly silky paste and it is done in a centrifugal machine with some cotton wool.
The kiji, treated by the kiji-shi, is carefully polished and then proceeds to the next step called kiji-gatame. Kiji-gatame is the crucial process of covering the wood grain by applying multiple urushi coats. As you might have learnt in science lessons at school, inside a tree trunk, there are many thin vessels running through to distribute water and nutrients to each branch and leaf. These vessels must be filled up by flowing urushi down several times in order to prevent the products from leaking. By penetrating urushi paste deep into the grain of the wood, it helps to stop the kiji from warping.

The urushi-paste has been prepared.


The craftsman is in the middle of kiji-gatame


The next step, in order to increase durability, is to lay a hempen cloth over the surface of the kiji and set it aside to dry. The cloth is then smoothed with a knife, another layer of urushi coat is applied, then the kiji is set aside to be dried and smoothed again. This process needs to be repeated several times. The photograph shows the process of smoothing.


Adequate humidity and temperature are the most important elements to provide the perfect conditions to dry urushi: technically speaking, urushi doesn’t ‘dry’ in the air but ‘hardens’ or ‘sets’ under moist warm conditions. There is a large cabinet called the ‘furo-dana’ (damp box) placed in the workshop. After shita-nuri (to apply first layer of urushi coat), the kiji is laid out to dry on the lightly moistened shelves. The inside of the ‘furo-dana’ is splashed with water that feels slightly chilly. While working inside this room during the cooler seasons, if you wear a pair of glass they steam up.

This ‘furo-dana’ has been used since they moved their workshop here and, over the years, it has developed character.


These bowls will soon have shita-nuri applied.

After shita-nuri, the products need to be dried and moved to the next process called naka-nuri (to apply another layer of urushi coat). After naka-nuri, they are smoothed and dried, then proceed to uwa-nuri.


In a separate room facing the window with plenty of natural light coming through, uwa-nuri – a final coat to be applied to the product having been through many processes – is the next step to be taken. Before beginning uwa-nuri, the room must be mopped, vacuumed and cleaned using an air-cleaner in order to create an absolutely dust free work environment to achieve a perfectly even surface of the product. They were working on tumblers for cold drinks such as beer to apply uwa-nuri when we visited their workshop.

While coating, products can’t be touched, so a stand is used.


Uwa-nuri has been applied to these tumblers.


They need to be dried again in a special drying cabinet, which is designed to rotate products to ensure even drying.


This drying process normally takes up to around one month, though it varies depending on the temperature and humidity. There are many products lined up in the cabinet.


These products started their nuri process six months ago. Although it is not widely known, urushi has antibacterial properties and keeps contents at a constant temperature. So it is suitable for a wide range of products such as tableware, beer tumblers or obento bako etc.

You may, by now, have been astonished by the fact that to produce a fine piece of art, urushi lacquerware, requires many months (around two years from the time the tree was cut down) with an enormous amount of commitment and effort from craftsmen. Today, even Japanese people purchase less traditional urushi lacquerware than before due to its perception of requiring high maintenance. However, urushi lacquerware finished using the proper traditional process is amazingly robust and lasts for decades. As a matter of fact, it is much easier to take care of than many people expect. Although they are not microwavable or dishwasher safe due to the nature of this product, washing by hand and drying properly, is all that needs to be done. AttA has been using the obento bako produced by Ishikawa Shippohdo for two years, it is still in perfect condition and hasn’t lost any of its color or shape.


With aesthetic finishing, soft and smooth texture, and sturdy structure, traditional urushi lacquerware is a tableware that enriches the atmosphere of any meal time. The intention of this article is to help you understand how special traditional Japanese urushi lacquerware. We hope you find a piece of urushi that you love and lasts for generations.
Thank you for your reading of this long article.
(Interested in their products? Check this page!: http://www.obento-atta.com/product/22)


木地が出来上がると、石川漆宝堂でいよいよ塗りを施します。同社は、第二次世界大戦後、今の社長の祖父が始めた会社で、塗師屋商人として下地から上塗りまで手掛けた品を製作・販売しました。現在も、同社では下地から上塗りまでを自社工場で執り行っており、高品質の漆、国産木地にこだわった製品を送り出しています。

さて、石川漆宝堂での漆器製作は、漆固めという漆の原液を精製する過程から始まります。漆の原液には採取時に混入した木の屑等が入っている場合があり、これらを除かないと滑らかな漆になりません。綿を漆に入れ、遠心分離機にかけて精製します。
そして、木地師が成形した型にさらに磨きをかけた後、漆を重ねて木地を固める作業に入ります。この作業は重要です。なぜなら木には導管という水を枝葉に運ぶ管があり、導管を漆を何度も重ねて染みこますことにより潰さないと、製品に水を入れた時に、水漏れが起きる可能性があるからです。また木目の中まで漆を染みこませることにより、木地が歪んだりすることを防ぐ役割もあります。
木地固めの作業場です。


その後、強度を上げるために、木地に麻布を貼って乾燥させたのち、研ぎ、更に漆を塗って乾かし、再度研ぐという工程を何度も繰り返します。

漆の乾燥には適度の湿気と温度が必要です。従って作業場には、風呂棚と呼ばれる大きな棚がありました。この棚に水を打って下塗りをした器をいれて乾燥させるのですね。水をうった風呂棚に手を入れると少しひんやり感じました。寒くなると、部屋を暖めますから、部屋の中にいると眼鏡が曇ってしまうとのことです。


こちらの風呂棚はこの地に社屋を移した時からあるそうです。歴史を感じさせます。

この後漸く下塗りと呼ばれる作業に移ります。

下塗りをしては乾かし、その後中塗りをしては研いで乾かしという作業を経て、上塗りの工程に入ります。

上塗りをする部屋は、窓際に面した明るい部屋でした。今まで沢山の工程を経て出来てきたものに最後の仕上げをする工程が上塗りです。ここで作品に塵・埃がついて表面が凸凹になってしまっては台無しですから、上塗り工程に取り掛かる前には、部屋の水拭き、掃除機かけ、エアダストをして徹底的に部屋の中を綺麗にするそうです。
伺った際には、ビールなどを飲むのに使うロングカップの上塗りをされていました。
塗る際には、作品を手で持つことは出来ませんので、このような台に固定してから塗ります。



上塗りをかけた後です。


その後再び乾かすのですが、万遍なく均等に乾くように、棚が回転する水屋に入れて上塗りは乾かします。

この乾燥の工程は最終的には、その時の温度・湿度で違いますが、約ひと月かかるそうで、棚には乾燥中の作品がずらっと並んでいました。

塗りの工程に入ってから約半年間の工程を経て出来上がった製品の数々です。漆を塗った製品は殺菌効果の他、温度を一定に保つ効果もありますから食器はもちろん、ビールグラス、お弁当箱等にに向いています。



漆製品が仕上がるには、長い年月(木が切りだされてから2年程度)と、多くの手間暇がかかっていることがお分かりいただけたと思います。メインテナンスに手間がかかるというイメージから、日本人でも使う人が減ってきた漆製品ですが、このような工程を経て出来上がってきたものは丈夫です。木製品ですので、食器洗い機や電子レンジでは使えませんが、手で洗ってよく乾かしさせすれば特段の手間は必要としません。AttAでも、こちらで製作されたお弁当箱をこの2年使っていますが、艶も消えず、壊れません。

何よりもその美しさや、肌触りの優しさ、堅牢さが食事の時間を豊かに彩ってくれる器です。この記事を読まれた方が、漆器が多くの人の手を経て作られた優れた食器であることを知って、お気に入りの漆器を見つけていただければと思います。



この製品をもっと見てみたい方はこちらをどうぞ→http://www.obento-atta.com/product/22