Origins
Kabazaiku, a product handed down to the Kakunodate region in Senboku City, Akita, is made out of the bark of mountain cherry.

Some believe Kabazaiku originated from the Goshono family who were the Shinto priests, in the region of Ani, Kita-Akita province during the Tenmei years (1781-1788), and passed it on to Hikoroku Fujimura who was a liege of the Satake-Kita family in Kakunodate.

Under tutelage of their land lord, some low-class warriors made Inro, which is a small container for personal seals or Doran, which is also a small container for seals or medicines, as a means of income during the Bunsei years (1804-1818). The land lord ordered to make them as a gift from the lord to others, thereby Kabazaiku was exported to other areas and gradually it was known all over Japan.

As the Meiji Period began, (1862-1912) because they had to stop receiving stipends for being Samurai, they turned into real craftsmen of Kabazaiku and mainly produced Doran. Moreover, they improved new techniques, which are called Tatamimono or Kijimono, and are the techniques on which contemporary Kabazaiku are based.

At the end of the Meiji period, Tozo Ono was not only accomplished in the ways of the Kabazaiku techniques, but also fostered good craftsmen, contributed the advancement of craftsmen, and finally entrenched the Kabazaiku industry.

Three piece Inro, container for seals with a case
Produced by Hikoroku Fujimura, End of the Edo period

Four piece Inro, container for seals covered with golden bark
Anonymous, End of the Edo period

Glasses Case covered with silver bark
Anonymous, End of the Edo period

Doran, container for seals, medicines, or tobacco; covered with rimose cherry bark
Produced by Yoshiro Taguchi, During 1955-1964

Katamono
This style of kabazaiku is also known as Shikomimono. A wooden template is used to make a cylindrical cast, and then the bark is wrapped around this cast. This technique was employed in the past to make items such as cigarette cases and pillboxes but is now mainly used to produce tin containers.

Katamono is an extremely delicate process. First the template must be skillfully crafted and then a combination of glue and irons are used to stick bark to the cast.

Kijimono
This method is similar to Katamono, but is used to make straight edged products rather than round ones. First the object’s shell is cast and then the bark is painstakingly attached to it using glue and irons.

The bark is fashioned into beautiful designs such as cherry trees, flowers of attractive decorative patterns.

by:Akita Prefectural Government
Credits: All media
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