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The Fascinating Secrets of Nihonga Painting

Nihonga uses mineral pigments (Iwa enogu) and shell powder (Gofun) mixed with rice glue or nikawa glue of animal origin. With the addition of potassium alum and clove oil, preservation is ensured for over 1000 years.

Each pigment is mixed by hand and a specific drying period is respected between each application.

The Technique

Murmures en couleurs
The Paper

Washi paper uses kozo, mitsumata or Neri fibers. These fibers are much longer than for normal paper and they intertwine to guarantee a preservation that lasts in time.

The Pigments

The natural pigments are dissolved in Nikawa. All the materials are drawn from the mineral, organic and animal kingdoms. The blue is thus drawn from lapis lazuli and the white from shells.


This term literally means “Japanese painting”. It distinguishes Japanese painting from Western-style oil painting. The difference comes mainly from the types of materials used.