Traditional Crafts of Tokyo 東京の伝統工芸品Traditional Crafts of Tokyo 東京の伝統工芸品

Kaba Zaiku

Kaba Zaiku Photo

It seems that Kaba Zaiku goes back to the end of the 18th century, when the techniques were passed on to the people in Kakunodate by the Satake Kita-family from the Ani district in the north of Akita Prefecture. The production of cherry-bark goods was given the patronage of the feudal lord to which the Satake Kita- family was attached and was taken up by lower-ranking samurai, firstly as a part-time occupation. Then at the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912) this work became a major source of income for them after they lost their warrior status. They then started to produce the prototypes of today's cherry-bark goods. Made from the bark of wild cherry, this work cannot be found anywhere else in Japan. There are about twelve different types of bark including amekawa, chirashikawa and hibikawa, the choice of bark depending of the article being made. The variations of the bark mean that no two pieces are ever the same. Nearly always applied to a carcass, many different articles can be made using this very appealing natural material but one of the most effective celebrations of its qualities is for tea caddies.