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Urushi & Maki-E Pen Glossary


With all the Japanese terms and urushi lingo that often tossed around, we thought it may be helpful to put together a glossary that covers the language used by urushi and maki-e pen collectors and vendors around the globe. We will make this a living document and will continue to build on this list as we go. Feel free to send us a message to add new jargon to the list to help others as they continue their journey in learning about the art of urushi.

Burnish - Describes the polishing of the urushi surface; typically performed using charcoal
Densho - Danitrio series; Densho means "Tradition" or "Passing down from generation to generation" in Japanese
Ebonite - Vulcanized hard natural rubber material typically used to make the body of the urushi pen.
Genkai - Danitrio series; Genkai means "Limit" in Japanese
Hakkaku - Danitrio series with an octagonal shape body; Hakkaku means "Discovery" in Japanese
Hanryo - Danitrio series; Hanryo means "Companion" in Japanese
Hyotan - Danitrio series with a Gourd-shaped body; Hyotan means "Gourd" in Japanese; has been coined the "Mae West" by collectors in the USA.
Ishime-ji - An appearance that reflects the surface of rock/stone typically using gold powders to deliver the intentional uneven topography
Kamakura-bori - Technique in which urushi layers are built up in the pen until it's thick enough to dig an array of divots to create a pattern which then is followed by an urushi coat.
Kaijin - Danitrio series with a body made of Mother of Pearl; Kaijin does not have a direct translation to english; Kaijin is most closely related to a kaiju which can be translated to mean "powerful creature"
Kama-nuri - Dantrio series that utilizes Kamakura-bori techniques
Kara-nuri - One of the styles of Tsugaru-nuri where there is a pattern of different-shaped specklings.
Kuro-keshi - Danitrio series of pens with hand-buffed urushi in attempts to still attempt to retain the look of a raw ebonite pen; this series was also coined the "Recession Urushi" as it was released during the housing bubble recession
Maki-E - Lacquer design where gold or silver powder is incorporated into the artwork.
Mikado - Danitrio series; Genkai means "Emperor" in Japanese
Naka-nuri - Middle layer of urushi
Nashiji - An appearance that reflects the grainy skin texture of "Nashi" (Japanese pear or Asian pear)
Nanako-nuri - One of the styles of Tsugaru-nuri where there is a pattern of circular seed-like patterns; it is believed that the circles represents the apple that is grown in Tsugaru.
Roiro-migaki - A non-oil based urushi that is applied on the outer layer of the pen which is followed by burnishing with charcoal allowing it to be lustrous
Shitaji-nuri - Base layer of urushi
Sho-Genkai- Danitrio series; smaller and shorter version of the Genkai
Suki-Urushi - "Clear" urushi that is applied on the outer layer of the pen used in the Tame-nuri technique
Takumi - Danitrio series; Takumi means "Good Design" or "Craft" in Japanese
Tame-nuri - Tame-nuri describes the “clear” urushi coat that is applied to allow for an individual to see deep into the layers of the pen.
Tsugaru-nuri - Style of lacquer-art that came from Tsugaru, the name of the area, located in the Aomori prefecture of Japan.
Urushi - Lacquer extracted from sap of the Toxicodendron Vernicifluum tree that can be applied over fountain pens.
Urushi-koshi - Paper filtration process to refine the urushi lacquer
Uwa-nuri - Outer layer of urushi
Yokozuna - Danitrio series; Yokozuna means "Sumo Champion" in Japanese
Yoshino-gami - Hand-made paper filters used for urushi-koshi

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