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

Akitasugi Oketaru

Akitasugi Oketaru Photo

Elements of tubs dating from the 15th and 16th centuries have been discovered at the former site of Akita castle. Records dating from the beginning of the 17th century kept by one of the old families of the Akita clan, make it clear that tubs were being used at a sake maker within the present-day district of Ogatsu-cho. There are also 19th century examples of different types of barrels and tubs preserved by the Aoyagi family of another district, Kakunodate-cho. They have a coating of lacquer and both copper and bamboo bands were used, and the shapes are the ones which are followed today. The wood from natural stands of local cedar has a fine straight grain and besides having a wonderful scent, it is not prone to distortion as the wood moves so little. The superb quality of the wood contributes to the warmth of this craft and brings both charm and a sense of quality to the lives of those that use these tubs and barrels. The scent of the wood is especially contributive to the value of such items as Japanese bath tubs, tubs for sushi, beer tankards, sake flasks, and rice tubs. Flower vases, too, benefit from the wood in a different way, as do candy tubs and umbrella stands.