Due to repeated fires, references and original examples of Odate Mage Wappa are scarce. However, due to the discovery of some Mage Wappa artifacts dating back to the beginning of the 10th century, we know it has a long history.

In the days of the Edo Period (1602), in order to relieve the poverty-stricken populace from their distress, Odate ruling Satake-Nishi’s family made the best use of the abundant forest resources within their territory.
As such, the lord encouraged lower class samurai to start side jobs making bentwood lunch boxes which were made from resources brought along by woodcutters.

In those days, over 100 lower-classed samurai worked as craftsmen and immersed themselves in making Mage Wappa for daily use.
In particular, lunch boxes were made in all shapes and sizes to benefit the business style, such as a large round shaped one for farmers, a small koban-shaped (oval Japanese gold coin of the Edo period) for merchant varieties, and ones with a wood-lace for fishermen and boatmen to have a meal in a pitching boat.

Nowadays, Mage Wappa items are still made for everyday use, such as lunch boxes, coffee mugs, etc.

Below is a picture of Mage Wappa from the middle of the Heian period (beginning of the 10th century) that was excavated from the ruins of a home in Doumeki.
It has maintained its original form almost perfectly from the house which was buried due to the heavy flood during the Heian period. The height is 9cm. Its body is tied together with cherry bark and attached to the base with wooden nails.
The process of making Mage Wappa
The technique of bending cedar and sewing with cherry bark by hand has been passed down generations for over one thousand years. Only cedars from Akita are used for this craft, and some of these cedars even date back as much as 200 years.

The Process of Bending: The cedar is curved by heating up the thin cedar boards in boiling water, then shaping them by bare hands while they are still warm and malleable.

Drying: The bending wooden rings (wappa) are then held in place with large wooden pins and put out to fully dry.

Cherry Bark Sewing: The dried rings are then fastened together by cherry bark strands.

Attaching the Base:
The base is tightly fastened to the frame to prevent any gaps or openings in the container.

by:Akita Prefectural Government
Credits: All media
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