Chinkin - Ornamental Beauty Created by the Art of Carving

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Basic Processes



material preparation and base making
Raw wood is roughly carved and then sanded into shape .


Shitaji -- basic coating

This is the process of preparing the wooden base surface for lacquering by sanding the wood joints and burs, and by reinforcing the weak parts. In Wajima-nuri, very unique methods are used for this purpose such as Nunokise -- covering weak parts with cloth or Jitsuke -- using baked and crushed diatomite called Jinoko. The subtle shape of the base material is also shaped in this process.


Nakanuri -- middle application

Mid-coating-lacquer is applied over the material using a brush to make the piece more sturdy.


Uwanuri -- final application

Final coating is performed using high quality lacquer in a dust-free room specially designed for the final application. First any dust is removed using a dust-removing-brush, then lacquer is roughly applied using a special brush and then the process is completed by careful application with a finishing-brush.


Roiro -- polishing

After the final coat has dried, the finished piece is polished repeatedly with charcoal while rubbing lacquer into the surface until the surface shines transparently like a mirror.




Kashoku -- ornamentation


  1. Shitae -- drawing a design
    A rough design is drawn on Japanese paper. It is sometimes drawn directly onto the lacquerware using a powder brush.
  2. Okime -- copying the design
    The drawn design is copied onto the lacquerware
  3. Subori -- rough carving
    Lines and dots are carved following the outline with a Chinkin chisel.
  4. Inlaying lacquer
    The carving is traced with lacquer. Excess lacquer is wiped off.
  5. Hakuoki/Kin-ire -- inlaying gold leaf or powder
    Gold leaf or powder is either stuck into the carved design, or sometimes gold powder is sprinkled into it.
  6. Teichaku -- fixing
    The piece is placed in a damp environment so that the gold leaf sticks to the applied lacquer. It is left until the lacquer is dry.
  7. Shiage -- finishing
    If the gold leaf placed on the pattern has stuck, the excess leaf is brushed off. It is then left a little longer until the gold inlayed area is completely dry.
  8. Kansei -- completion


A design drawn on Japanese paper is placed on the lacquerware. The copied design is traced with lacquer. Gold or silver powder is sprinkled over it. Again, lacquer is applied over the pattern. Then, the material is polished to bring out the luster of gold and silver.