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It is then collected and filtered through absorbent cotton with a centrifugal separator to remove bark and other impurities.

The result is raw urushi (nama-urushi) which can be further refined, or used as-is for the base coats in lacquerware.

Swords, shields and entire body armor had coatings of urushi!

Urushi lacquer is made from the sap of the urushi tree (Rhus vernicifera).

From June through November the urushi is tapped by slashing the bark of the tree with horizontal cuts to let the thick white sap (arami) ooze from the trunk.

This sap begins to solidify as soon as it comes in contact with the air.

When exposed to warmth and humidity, an enzyme is activated and extracts oxygen from the water and supplies it to the urushiol. Even after it has hardened, the urushi retains some water content, making it look perpetually wet and shiny.

Urushiol is the exact same substance found in poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac which causes rash and itchiness, so it is not advisable to handle liquid urushi with your bare hands unless you are one of the lucky few who are immune to it.

However, the areas today where urushi sap is actually produced are very limited.

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Urushi (pronounced "oo-roo-shee") is one of the most durable natural lacquers known to man.

It gradually turns dark brown in color, and reaches a smooth consistency.

It is now ready to be used for the middle and final coats.

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