漆塗りの下地 (木地) Lacquered base (wood)


Did you know that the glossy lacquered base has a long process?


In the previous post, it became clear that various groundwork methods were used in various parts of the lacquer producing area.Basically, the groundwork is applied except for the items that you want to show the grain of the wood.

漆芸の分業制 Division of labor in the lacquering industry


It is thought that lacquer art was produced in large quantities, especially in the days when lacquered ware was an indispensable part of our daily lives. In addition, lacquer has been applied not only to lacquer ware but also to various furniture. It is said that division of labor was common to improve production capacity to meet the demand.


In the long lacquering process, the division of labor was mainly as follows.

  1. 木地師 “Kiji-shi” Craftsman who processes wood
  2. 下地師 “Shitaji-shi” Craftsman who processes the groundwork
  3. 塗師 “Nu-shi” Craftsman painting lacquer
  4. 蒔絵師 “Makie artisan” Craftsman decorating lacquer work
  5. 呂色師 “Roiro-shi” Craftsman who polishes the lacquer surface


Even today, the division of labor is carried out in large lacquer producing areas such as Wajima and Aizu. However, now that the number of creators has decreased, there are many lacquering artists who complete the entire process by themselves. Of course, it takes time to complete the whole process alone. Craftsmen have to think about the annual allocation.


(※下地は塗りの前段階の作業です。The groundwork is the work before painting.)

At the Traditional Arts Super Collage of Kyoto that I attended, you can learn all the steps from groundwork to decoration. You can learn the “Kanshitsu” technique (curved surface) when the wood is the base material (flat surface). In any case, I basically learned the groundwork technique called “Honkataji” (Kyo-shitaji).


If you know this foundation technique, the materials used are often the same for other foundation techniques, so I think that it will cover most of the basic materials for lacquering. However, at school, there is less time to practice one process repeatedly because the process is long with just the tasks. However, I think it was very good because I was able to learn the importance of the groundwork at school, such as how smooth the groundwork should be, by grasping the whole picture even if the groundwork is not wood.


In addition, the groundwork of this main ground has been used and inherited as cultural assets of shrines and temples, as well as works of art such as hand boxes and suzuri-bako. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the reason why beautiful modern lacquer work can be seen even after hundreds of years is because of this groundwork technique.


As a result of trial and error by people in the past, “This kind of thing will be something that can be left for future generations,” I think it is a technique that has been passed down for a long time as a traditional Japanese technique.

なぜ下地が必要か?Why does lacquering require a base?

  • 木肌の凹凸を無くすため
  • より平滑な面を作るため→漆の艶がより引き立つ
  • 素地を守るため (痩せ)
  • 熱伝導を緩和させる→素地への影響を軽減
  • To eliminate the unevenness of the wood surface
  • To make a smoother surface → The luster of lacquer stands out more
  • To protect the foundation (Skinny)
  • Reduces heat conduction → Reduces the effect on the substrate


On the bark, there are beautiful annual rings of wood. The annual tree ring have soft parts that grow fast in the summer and hard parts that grow slowly in the winter. It is influenced by the environment of the four seasons, which causes unevenness on the wood surface.


In addition, the suction of lacquer also changes depending on the type of wood, the environment in which it was grown, and the degree of dryness.

主な漆芸の下地法 Main lacquering groundwork


In addition, not all base materials are good for this “Honkataji” base method, and there are various base techniques depending on the decoration method, shape and material.

  • 本堅地 Honkata-ji
  • 錆地 Sabi-ji
  • 蒔地 Maki-ji
  • 漆地 Urushi-ji

本堅地 “Honkataji

Base material adjustment of wood
Sabi-tsuke (First time)
2.木地固め Kiji-gatame14.空研ぎ Kara-togi
3.空研ぎ Kara-togi15.錆付け(2回目)
Sabi-tsuke (Second time)
4.布着せ Nuno-kise16.空研ぎ Kara-togi
5.空研ぎ Kara-togi17.錆付け(3回目)
Sabi-tsuke (Third time)
Nunome-suri (Sabi-urushi)
18.水研ぎ#240 Mizu-togi
Water sharpening
7.空研ぎ Kara-togi19.水研ぎ#400
Water sharpening
Ji-sabi-tsuke (First time)
Water sharpening
9.空研ぎ Kara-togi21.水研ぎ#800
Water sharpening
Ji-sabi-tsuke (second time)
22.錆固め Sabi-katame
11.空研ぎ Kara-togi 22.捨中塗り(下塗り)
Sute-nakanuri (undercoat)
12.地固め Ji-katame23.水研ぎ#800


The lacquered sample in Nikko’s residence is basically the same as the technique learned at school in the base part.The part in the red frame is the process part of the base of “Honkataji”.

錆地 Sabi-ji

  1. 素地調整(木地)Base material adjustment (wooden)
  2. 木地固め Kiji-gatame (Apply raw lacquer)
  3. 錆しごき Sabi-shigoki (Apply a thin layer of Sabi-urushi with a spatula)
  4. 錆付け Sabi-tsuke (Apply Sabi-urushi)
  5. 錆研ぎ Sabi-togi (Sharpening)
  6. 錆固め Sabi-katame (Apply raw lacquer)


Sabi-urushi base is also considered to be the simplest base method. It is said that this foundation method does not correspond to the thinning of the wood itself. However, it is said that the durability is sufficient by using rust lacquer.


What is "Sabi-urushi"? .. ..
Tono-ko powder + water + raw lacquer (for base)
Refers to the base lacquer that is a mixture of the above.
It is brownish, but when it comes in contact with the air, it becomes rusty-color.


What is "Ji-sabi-urushi"? .. ..
Gino-ko powder + Tono-ko powder + water + raw lacquer (for base)
Refers to the base lacquer that is a mixture of the above.
Depending on the place of origin, it may be made only from the Jino-ko powder, or it may be mixed with Tono-ko powder.

蒔地 Maki-ji


Since it is a base method for sprinkling powder, it is called “Makiji” as it is.

  1. 素地調整(木地)Base material adjustment (wooden)
  2. 木地固め Kiji-gatame (Apply raw lacquer)
  3. 生漆塗りApply raw lacquer
  4. 粉蒔き (炭粉や地の粉)Sprinkling powder (Charcoal powder and abrasive powder)
  5. 粉固め Fun-gatame (Apply raw lacquer)
  6. 研ぎ Sharpening


Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 two or three times.

室瀬和美さんによる復元南蛮漆器(鎌倉・東慶寺所蔵)Restoration Nanban lacquerware by Kazumi Murose (Kamakura / Tokeiji collection)


This “Maki-ji” groundwork technique is a technique often used in Nanban lacquer ware, in which lacquer ware was mass-produced in response to overseas orders during the Edo period. The “Sabi-urushi” used on the main ground feels like putty, and you have to make good use of the spatula. On the other hand, with the “Makiji technique”, the underlying powder can be evenly fixed without using a spatula by sowing even those in various aspects.

漆地 Urushi-ji


  1. 素地調整(木地)Base material adjustment (wooden)
  2. 木地固め Kiji-gatame
  3. 下地漆塗り Base lacquer paint
  4. 研ぎ Sharpening


Repeat “3. Base lacquering” and “4. Sharpening” 7 to 8 times to make the base.


※砥の粉 →→→ 粘板岩でできた石を砕いた粉
※弁柄(顔料) →→→ 酸化鉄が主成分の赤色顔料

Base lacquer・・・Raw lacquer+Tonoko+Bengara-Pigment

※Tonoko →→→ Crushed powder of stone made of slate
※Bengara (pigment) →→→ Red pigment whose main component is iron oxide


The above “Urushi-ji ” is the groundwork technique used in Joboji-nuri in Joboji Town, Iwate Prefecture. If the base material is metal or other material that is denser and smoother than the wood surface from the beginning, only lacquer may be used as the base material.


In addition, “Tono-ko” and “Jino-ko” that are mixed with the raw lacquer used for the base are not necessarily the same, but the natural ones that can be obtained there depending on the production area are used. At the lacquer shop, the place of origin is listed and sold. Even if the same lacquer is used, if it is used on different days, the same thing cannot be done. There is only one lacquering product.


In the case of a division of labor Maki-e artist, in the case of “Togidashi-Makie”, start lacquer painting from the sharpening after intermediate coating, or start decorating from the lacquered surface that has been polished. In some cases, the painter will do all of the above steps, and in other cases, the base lacquer will do the work of using the base lacquer (rust lacquer). I think the division of labor system differs depending on the workshop.


The above is a rough minimum number of processes, and there are various detailed methods depending on the production area and people. In some cases, rusting and coating may increase. Then, the craftsman will inevitably have to sharpen the paint once it is applied, and the number of processes will increase by 2.3. Depending on the tool such as the spatula used for the groundwork and the shape of the grindstone for sharpening, it takes a lot of time to make it by yourself.


It is said that the polishing process is more likely to increase the gloss more than once, but if there are many “Suri-urushi” processes before “Suri-urushi” even once, the gloss may increase. The dryness of the lacquer in each process affects the subsequent processes and may return.


Since lacquer is natural in all processes, it depends on the daily weather and environment.


Lacquering is the accumulation of sober work, but I think that the accumulation of each one creates beauty.


In the world of traditional crafts, in modern life, we often use materials that are nostalgic for old people and are no longer familiar to the younger generation. As a result, I feel that “why?” Is always attached. I would like to continue to summarize the “why?” In my blog post.


Thank you again for reading the post.

参考文献 References


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