In olden days, the bark of the Japanese cherry tree was called “KANIHA”. It was broadly used for making brushes, bows, and katana sheaths. Some records indicate that KANIHA artifacts were stored as offerings in the Shosoin (show-sew-yin), the treasury for the Emperor of the Japan.
It is said that the art of cherry bark handicrafts was originally passed down from generation to generation in Ani district located in northern Akita. Fujimura Hikoroku who was a samurai serving the feudal Northern Lord Satake in Kakunodate developed the technique in the mid-Edo era.
Among the handicrafts in Edo era, there were tobacco containers, vasculum, and containers for eye-glasses. In early Meiji era, samurai lost their jobs because the Tokugawa regime collapsed. Though the samurai in Kakunodate made Kaba-zaiku primarily as supplemental income when they were prominent, after the collapse of the feudal system these minor landholders shifted to full-time professional craft makers.
The craft makers gradually found their market through wholesalers, developing Kaba-zaiku products. In the Taisho era after the Meiji era, Kaba-zaiku was successfully presented in an exhibition in Tokyo, and became renowned as one of the best special products in Akita.
About The Company
About TOMIOKA SHOTEN
Kaba-zaiku is a craft unique to Akita that has been passed down in Kakunodate since the end of the 18th century. Since 1970, Tomioka as a company has been a source for passing down the techniques of cherry bark crafts and hopes to share this valuable product with the world for many years to come. The art of Kaba-zaiku (cherry bark craftwork) was nurtured in a land surrounded by mountains.
Japanese began to use wild cherry bark since the Jomon Period. After going through various usages, it developed into the Kaba-zaiku craftwork we see today. They preserve the mountains, live with gifts they receive from them, and continue to preserve them. They will continue to protect and nurture our culture to “living with the mountains” so they can pass the rich blessings down to our future generations.
At Tomioka, they harvest wild cherry bark from woodlands where Koshin is practiced (logged trees are used mainly as raw material for pulp). From the end of the rainy season to around September, craftsmen themselves go into the woods, look for wild cherry trees in good condition, and harvest the bark. Logged wild cherry trees sprout and grow shoots, multiplying in number, in 20 to 30 years, which leads to preservation of forests and local industries.
This is Tomioka’s Arts&Crafts shop, Kazuki. The name “Kazuki”comes from the atmosphere of the hidden beauty found with blooming sakura in the moonlight. Japan has universally understood this sense of beauty since ancient times, but at Kazuki they try to share these cultural concepts with others. Kazuki’s collection not only contains Kaba-zaiku, but also features items that create a “lifestyle that leaves the heart overflowing”.