"Kabazaiku" Cherry bark craft vol.1  History

■Come! Spring!

Now, We call this season, "Harudonari" from the first half to the middle of February. "Harudonari" means "Next to spring".
We are eagerly waiting for the arrival of spring, and not stop talking about warmer season even if it is still cold.

In February of Kyoto, when we sometimes feel warm for sunlight, and when we find that the days are getting longer, we recognize that the spring is coming little by little.


Today, we will introduce beautiful cherry bark craft "Kabazaiku" from Akita prefecture, northeast region of Japan but which will bring you the scent of early spring.



The "Kabazaiku" was born in the town of Kakunodate, East area of Akita Prefecture, and it is called as "Small Kyoto of Michinoku".
In Japan, if you say "Michinoku" people usually think of northeast region of Japan.



Why do we call this area as a "Small Kyoto"?

One of the reason is the existance of special cherry blossoms "Shidare zakura", weeping cherry blossoms.



The origin of this Shidare zakura is the Maruyama park of Kyoto which is a famous place for cherry blossoms.


In the 17th century, Satake Yoshichika, the first head of Satake Kita family who managed the area, brought some Kyoto style; streets ware designed in a grid like Kyoto and you can enjoy each season with seasonal plants and flowers, because his origin was from the court noble of Kyoto.

Satake Yoshiaki who was the second head of Satake Kita family, the son of Yoshichika got married to the daugher of a court noble of Kyoto and she brought three sapling of weeping cherryblossoms.
This is the begining to become famous place for the beautiful Cherry blossoms spot.

The history of "Kabazaiku" is longer than the story of weeping cherry blossoms, but these two cherry blossoms; one is the craft of cherry bark, another one is beautiful scenery of weeping of cherry blossoms are increased the fame of this area.


■What is the "Kabazaiku"?


When we talk about "Kabazaiku", the meaning of "Kaba" is the bark of cherry tree, but this bark is not from weeping cherry blossoms from Kyoto, it is from "Yamazakura" the wild cherry tree from the moutain near from Kakunodate which is so resistant to cold.





The blooming season of single-layered cherry blossoms has already finished,
The flowers of single layered cherry blossoms have already dispersed, the blooming season of double-layered cherry blossoms has finished, the flowers of "Kaba zaThe flowers of wild cherry tree is humble and beautiful but the bark is also beautiful.
Since long time ago, from 8th century, the bark of wild cherry tree was used for the precious craft, so you can see old "Kabazaiku" in the Shosoin, treasure house of Todaiji temple in Nara Prefecturer, too.

And, in a passage of Tale of Genji, famous stroy about a son of emperror, written by Murasaki Shikibu in 11the century, you can see the scene to enjoy the wild cherry blossoms.kura" which means "Yama zakura", wild cherry tree has started to bloom. In the era Murasaki shikibu alived ,people called "Yama zakura" as "Kaba zakura", which means that the bark of cherry was also so beautiful.


The wild cherry trees periphery of Kakunodate area have hard and thick barks like armor. Craft men peel off it thinly, polish up and past on the mold by hand. This elaborate bark process has the highest reputation in the world, and this technique has been inherited only in the area of Kakunodate, Akita Prefecture.
This great technique produced various kinds of crafts; tea caddy , tray, plate, accesrroeis, and some stationeries etc...

When this "Kabazaiku" techniques was produced, only special craft men created the items. However, at the end of Samurai era 19th century, the financial problem of Akita region became so severe, a lot of Samurai started to create these cherry bark craft as their second job. This is also the trigger to produce various items of cherry bark in keeping their quality.


As wild cherry bark hold well balanced moisture and dry, you will enjoy those crafts for a long time. And their chic color and smoothed surface should be suitable for various interirors and your modern life style. When you touch these cherry bark items, you might feel the warmth of wood and the gratitude by craft men for the nature at the same time, you might feel "Spring of Japan".

The warmth of cherry bark will bring you First Spring of Japan.


If you are interested in, please visit our product page from here.

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■春よ来い!
この時期を表す季語に「春隣(はるとなり)」ということばがあります。

厳しい寒さの中にも、時折日射しが暖かく感じたり、日がしだいに長くなっているのに気づくと、確実に春に向かっていることを感じますね。

今回ご紹介するのは、そんな一足早い春の香りを運んでくれる、秋田きっての美しい伝統工芸品、樺細工です。



樺細工のふるさとは秋田県東部の角館。
古くからの城下町として武家屋敷が数多く残る美しい町で、「みちのくの小京都」と呼ばれています。

春になると薄紅色のシダレザクラが古い町並みの中に立ち並び、どことなく京都の風情を感じさせます。



江戸時代にこの地を治めていた佐竹北家の初代当主、佐竹義隣は、自身が京都の公家の家系であったことからも、角館の地に京都の文化を積極的に持ち込んだそうです。
2代目当主の義明も京の公家から妻を迎え入れており、その嫁入り道具のひとつとして京都のかの有名な円山公園の桜の苗木をもってきたことが、今の角館の春を彩る美しいシダレザクラの並木道のはじまりとされています。


さて、そんな美しい角館を代表する工芸品「樺細工」。





「樺細工」の「樺」とはヤマザクラの樹皮のこと。「樺」の字から白樺の樹皮を使った製品との誤解を招きやすいため、「桜皮細工」とも表記されることもあります。ちなみに、城下町を彩るシダレザクラと樺細工に使われているヤマザクラは全く別の桜ですのでご注意ください(笑)。


角館周辺の山はヤマザクラが数多く生息しています。ヤマザクラが美しいのは花だけではありません。樹皮も木材も美しいことで知られており、正倉院の御物にも見られ、万葉集や源氏物語でも賞賛されています。

紫式部は「源氏物語 幻」の一節に

「外の花は、一重散りて、八重桜咲く花盛り過ぎて、樺桜は開け。」
(外では一重の桜は散ってしまい、八重桜も盛りを過ぎ、樺桜が咲き始めていました。)

と書き記していますが、その「樺桜」こそが樺細工に使われているヤマザクラであることが分かります。
紫式部の時代には、ヤマザクラは樺桜とよばれていたのですね。


角館周辺のヤマザクラは雪国の、まるで鎧のように分厚い樹皮に覆われています。その分厚い樹皮を薄く削り、磨き上げ、コテで木地に張りつけてつくられる樺細工は、世界でも類をみない最高峰の樹皮工芸といわれており、この秋田の角館だけにその技術が引き継がれています。


その見事な樹皮工芸のアイテムは茶筒やステーショナリー、トレーやプレート類、アクセサリーなどさまざま。
ヤマザクラの樹皮ならではの湿気を避け乾燥を防ぐ特性と、渋くて深味のある光沢、滑らかで強靭な手触りが特徴です。

そんな角館の樺細工は、江戸時代に藩の財政が逼迫したときに、それまでに角館に伝わっていた樺細工を、武士の手内職として奨励したことで定着したとされています。

長く厳しい冬を過ごす東北地方の、春を心待ちにする気持ちと自然の恵みに感謝する心が、この工芸品の美しさ温かさとなって表れています。

そして、『民芸運動の父』として、民衆の暮らしの中から生まれた「美の世界」の価値を高めた柳宗悦は「日本の樹である桜が皮として使われる、日本固有のものである」と評しました。

こうして樺細工は日本を代表する大変価値の高い工芸品となりました。

樺細工ならではの温かみのある肌触りを感じて一足早く春を感じてみませんか?

ご興味のある方はコチラから樺細工アイテムを御覧いただけます!

#Kabazaiku #Akita Prefecture #wooden craft Japan #tea caddy #early spring #first spring #Cherry blossoms #wood #wild cherry #cherry bark #Tohoku Japan #Kakunodate #craft of Kakunodate 

Spring