How to Care for Japanese Lacquerware

Japanese lacquerware, called “Shikki” or “Nuri-mono” in Japanese.

There are two main types of Japanese lacquerware: natural lacquerware and synthetic lacquerware. Natural lacquerware is called ”Hon-Urushi”, made from the natural Japanese lacquer of the Lacquer tree, which is found in East Asia. Synthetic lacquerware is easier to handle, less expensive.

Learn about those both types of Japanese lacquerware's properties and how to care for it.


Neither natural nor synthetic lacquerware is superior to the other, and despite their differences in nature, they are both proudly crafted by Japanese artisans.

 If you are not sure whether the Japanese Lacquerware product you want to purchase is natural lacquerware or synthetic lacquerware, you can find the information on the individual product pages.


Natural Japanese Lacquerware made with natural Japanese lacquer is a traditional craft that originated in the Jomon period, the oldest period in Japan.

Natural Japanese Lacquer is an excellent material that resists deterioration over time, is elastic, lightweight, and holds heat well, and its component urushiol inhibits bacteria.


- Lightweight and durable
- Great heat retention
- Bacteria and mildew resistance


- Sensitive to dryness
- UV rays can cause deterioration
- Cannot be used in oven, microwave, dishwasher


Synthetic Japanese Lacquerware is coated with cashew lacquer, urethane, or polycite, etc. to resemble natural Japanese lacquer, which takes less time to produce and is inexpensive.

It also has the advantage that dishwasher safe and easy to use. (Microwavable varies by product.)


- Lightweight and durable
- Inexpensive
- Dishwasher safe


- Cannot be used in oven, microwave


You can serve any kind of food on Japanese Lacquerware. Especially recommended for serving hot cuisine like soup, noodle, or hot sake, etc. because of its excellent heat retention and insulation properties.

You will not get a skin irritation by urushiol if you touch the finished pieces. Also natural Japanese lacquerware is very good for cutlery such as chopsticks that comes in direct contact with the mouth because of its bacterial resistance.


For Natural Lacquerware: Please do not use in microwave, oven, dishwasher

The natural Japanese lacquerware at Musubi Kiln is made of natural wood and natural lacquer.
Because it is an organic material, it should not be placed on an open flame or in a flammable environment. Also, please do not use a dishwasher, as over-drying may cause the core wood to shrink. We recommend that it be washed by hand so that it can be used for a long time.

For Synthetic Lacquerware: Dishwasher safe

Synthetic Japanese lacquerware can be washed in a dishwasher. However, if the base is made of wood, it is still not recommended to use oven or microwave but some products may be microwavable. Please read the instructions on each page of the Japanese lacquerware product you are looking for.


For Natural Lacquerware:

After each use of Japanese Lacquerware, clean it gently with a soft sponge and cleanser-free dishwashing detergent. Wipe off the water with a cloth or leave it out to air dry before storing.

Natural Lacquer has the nature to bind and harden with water, so even after the piece is finished, it will become more durable with exposure to water. So you can leave it in water for a few hours to remove smudges.

For storage, it is recommended to keep out of direct sunlight to avoid over-drying and UV rays. Also, it is best to store lacquerware with other lacquerware to avoid colliding with hard ceramics such as pottery or porcelain. When you stack lacquerware on top of each other, it will last longer if you put a piece of paper between them.

When taking Japanese lacquerware outside for outdoor activities, it is best to wrap it in a furoshiki cloth.

For Synthetic Lacquerware :

After each use, wash by hand or in a dishwasher. Synthetic Japanese lacquerware is resistant to UV rays, but it tends to deteriorate faster than natural Japanese lacquerware. (However, natural Japanese lacquer is just too superior,  synthetic lacquer is also sustainable enough for your life.)

Please use it in the same way as Natural lacquerware products, except for the use in a dishwasher.


Natural Japanese lacquerware is more pricey than synthetic Japanese lacquerware, but it is more durable and becomes more attractive the older it is used. The best way to care for natural Japanese Lacquerware is keep using it.

Every time it is washed, natural Japanese Lacquerware becomes more durable with each contact with water, and the richness of its shine increases with each use.
Despite its delicacy that cannot be put in the oven, microwave, dishwasher, natural Japanese lacquerware becomes more beautiful by using.

If used with care, it will last for over a hundred years and can be passed on to your family as valuable antiques.


Japanese tableware, both lacquerware and pottery, use the expression "nurture" to describe charm of aging and changing with continued use. Even if a piece is broken, we continue to use it by fixing it and enjoy its appearance.

This is the Japanese spirit of wabi, the love of old tools, as well as the ecological wisdom of continuing to use tools without throwing them away. It may seem to need a lot of care, but by using lacquerware carefully with your own hands, you can "nurture" it and add comfort and joy to your daily life.


Japanese lacquerware, also called "Sikki" in Japanese, is a proud handicrafts with a long history dating back to 5,000BC, and traditional methods are still followed. Durable, light, antibacterial, and robust enough to endure for more than 100 years, Japanese Lacquerware is not only beautiful, but also highly functional.

 In addition to the fine Japanese Lacquerware found in antique and vintage pieces, there is also contemporary Japanese Lacquerware suitable for modern life made by artisans who continue to improve their skills and inheriting tradition today. 

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