the secret of lacquerware beauty #1

What is the difference between “MOKUGO” and wood ?
“MOKUGO” is a kind of synthetic wood.  It is made of flour resin, wood powder and wood.  Japanese lacquer-ware “Urushi” made of solid wood is very expensive.
In addition, a real wood base is very delicate as it is susceptible to cracks caused by abrupt change of temperature and humidity once in a while.
For this reason, we strongly recommend Japanese lacquerware made on “MOKUGO” bases to an overseas customer.

How is “Japanese lacquer” differing from “urethane coating” ?
The Japanese lacquer is made from a sap extracted from a bush called “Urushi” in japanese (the botanical name is: Toxicodendron vernicifluum). In many cases it looks like a bush, the lacquer tree (also known as the Japanese sumac or the varnish tree) can grow up to 20 meters high and is present in Japan, China and Korea.

Currently, lacquer trees are becoming more and more scarce in Japan. Besides, the craftsman with the professional ability to gather the lacquer sap is limited. This is one of the reasons which makes the Japanese lacquer “Urushi” very expensive.
On the other hand urethane is a cheap and easy to work with substitute of the lacquer. By adding a pigment (commonly red or black) in a synthetic resin, it is possible to create a surrogate of japanese lacquer.
Because it can easily mass-produced, it can be sold at a very low price.
Additionally, urethane items are easy to use and require little care.
On the other hand, genuine lacquer tree product needs careful care to keep a good condition.

Urethane coated “surrogate lacquer-ware” are very popular. Especially the miso soup bowls(cups) used in general home and restaurants are finished with urethane coating.
Urethane used to be very glossy and easy to scratch: felt like plastic in general was cheap looking.
Technological improvements are making urethane coated surrogate lacquer-ware better looking and more resilient.

Said that…as you can imagine, authentic lacquer-ware beautiful shine and refined touch are still a different planet.
Real lacquer-ware can give you strong emotions and help you sharpen your sensibility.
It is like receiving a kiss from a princess: it may take great effort to obtain one but it is definitely worth it.
Owning and taking care of a lacquerware item may be a life changing experience!

Few important notes you for you to keep in mind:
1. Do not wash lacquer items with a dish detergent. Alkaline detergents must not be used as they remove the shine and make the lacquer-ware look dull.
2. Wash it only with tepid water and wipe off moisture with a dish towel promptly. Then finish rinsing it out with dry dish towel. Finally put away it after just drying for a while away from direct sun exposure.
3. Fingerprints may leave permanent signs if the item is not properly cleaned or left unused for a long time.
When storing lacquer-ware for a long term, it is important to wear cotton gloves when you take care of it. Do not leave your finger prints. etc.

Delicate care is necessary to preserve the refined beauty of lacquer-ware, as you would do for an artwork.
What is important is what you are expecting from you relationship with lacquer-ware items.
Are you looking for daily tableware or for a work of art?
Which one do you want?  It is just up to you!