The process of producing typical urushi lacquered objects has over 20 steps, and more than a hundred individual processes, still done by hand. Even a small object like a bowl can take over 6 months to make.
Traditionally urushi lacquer is applied with a brush made of women's hair.
"An important component of the Japanese art of lacquerwork is the special technique known as "urushi", which uses many layers of wafer-thin, semi-transparent lacquer to create a surface of almost mystical radiance and sensual depth."
Gofun is a white pigment used in Japan from the Muromachi period to the present day. It is made of calcium carbonate powder obtained by sun heating and pulverizing the shells of oysters and clams. Mixed with animal glue it was used as a coating on statues and masks after the Kamakura period. A series of layers is applied, and each layer is burnished. Repeated applications and burnishing, result in a surface that is highly durable, with a white porcelaneous sheen giving the effect of a freshly-fallen snow.