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.
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