Japan, a varnish of exceptional hardness, which originally came from Japan. The name is now extended to other varnishes of a like sort, esp. to (a) a black varnish obtained by cooking asphaltum with linseed oil, used for producing a black gloss on metal and other materials; (b) a varnish-like liquid made from shellac, linseed-oil and turpentine, and used as a medium in which to grind colours and for drying pigments, hence also black wooden lacquer ware OED (1989).