Akita cherry bark work or "kaba zaiku" are wood crafts made with the bark of mountain cherry trees, usually by attaching the bark to wood or shaping it using a mold. There are two types of bark used: "shimofurikawa" is bark that is used as is and has a rough surface, while "mujikawa" is bark that is polished to a sheen.
Akita cherry bark work originated in the late 18th century, when the techniques were passed down from the northern part of present-day Akita Prefecture to the people of Kakunodate, where the craft became widespread as a side job for low ranking samurai. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the craft developed into a stable industry, which led to a wide variety of products being produced.
Akita cherry bark work is known for its ability to maintain its moisture level, making it suitable for tea caddies. Besides tea utensils, it is also used for coasters, chopstick rests, vases, and accessories. It is also noted for its durability, practicality, and refined appearance, with each item having a unique pattern.
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