Japanese lacquer varies in color, surface texture and quality. Lacquer is clear or has pigments added. Traditional pigment colors are black, red, yellow, green, off-white.
- Shin nuri – smooth black shiny surface. Many layers of lacquer are applied, sanded and smoothed to achieve this effect.
- Kaki-awase nuri – Lowest grade of black lacquer. One coat of seshime-urushi (with lamp-black incorporated) is applied. This hardens the surface of the wood and stains it black. Then one good coat of joohana-urushi or joochin-urushi is applied. This style originally was primarily produced in Tokyo area. It is also known as kuro-shunkei (black shunkei) from the name of its inventor.
- tame nuri – use of clear lacquer applied on base material. This allows the beauty of the base material to be visible.
- tatakinuri (叩き塗) – Has a matte finish and rough “pebbly” texture. To achieve this texture, different materials are mixed into the lacquer such as: crushed eggshells, tofu, and okara (a pulpy material left over in the tofu manufacturing process). The mixture is applied with a sponge using a tapping (tataki) motion. The surface is then smoothed with a roller. This technique creates a strong surface and has also been used on Japanese body armor.
- Tsumakure – Red accents on lacquered items. Often seen on the edges of tana. Literally means “red fingernails.”