The delicate art of making tea canisters from cherry bark

7 May 2010
The delicate art of making tea canisters from cherry bark

During my recent journey to Japan which led me to the north of Honshu at the extreme south of Kyushu, I visited for the first time a lovely city deeply nestled among mountains covered with woods. This city is Kakunodate, located nearby Akita (I’m giving details for the people, like me, who enjoy poking their nose on a map and dream while pointing their finger on imaginary roads).

In Kakunodate the tradition of wood work is still carried on. But not any wood ! Here they are only interested in cherry tree. Objects are carved in its bark, or, in other words, this beautiful bark is turned into a smooth and delicate leaf just like a precious parchment and is then pinned against the desired object:  a tea canister for example.
It is a very slow and meticulous work: once the wet season is over, a sample of bark is taken (approximately ten meters above the ground) and is then left to dry for no less than a year ! This leaves enough time to carefully think about its destiny…

With the help of a small flat-iron, this worker smoothly presses against the bark, after having coasted its back so that it perfectly sticks to the tea canister’s body. Of course, before that, she slowly polished the bark with great care,  using the blade of a knife in a repetitive movement  so as to make it surprisingly soft.

I’m admiringly watching her, in the silence surrounding her workshop. Once the tea canister is finished, she strokes it and holds it out to me with a discreet pride and I’m thinking about the beautiful Japanese green tea which will be a perfect case for it.

You like this post?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Similar articles

The tea fields need looking after in winter too

14 February 2012

During the winter months, tea plants grow very little, if at all. So this is the time to work on maintaining the land, such as the cuttings garden, for example….

Share on Facebook. Tweet this!

Wild orchids growing around tea plantations

27 July 2012

Spending your life in the tea fields does not prevent you from wandering around the tea plantations and raising your eyes to admire the nature around you. Here in Nepal,…

Share on Facebook. Tweet this!

Tribute to women working in the tea industry

8 March 2013

International Women’s Day is an excellent opportunity for me to pay tribute to all women working in the tea industry. From harvesting to processing, from packaging to quality control, tea…

Share on Facebook. Tweet this!

How to warm up with tea

7 February 2012

With the cold you are battling in France at the moment, you need to keep warm. Always have to hand a kettle filled with fresh water. A singing kettle, for…

Share on Facebook. Tweet this!