Akita Cherry-Bark Work

It seems that Kaba Zaiku goes back to the end of the 18th century, when the techniques were passed on to the people in Kakunodate by the Satake Kita-family from the Ani district in the north of Akita Prefecture.
The production of cherry-bark goods was given the patronage of the feudal lord to which the Satake Kita- family was attached and was taken up by lower-ranking samurai, firstly as a part-time occupation. Then at the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912) this work became a major source of income for them after they lost their warrior status. They then started to produce the prototypes of today's cherry-bark goods.

Made from the bark of wild cherry, this work cannot be found anywhere else in Japan. There are about twelve different types of bark including amekawa, chirashikawa and hibikawa, the choice of bark depending of the article being made. The variations of the bark mean that no two pieces are ever the same. Nearly always applied to a carcass, many different articles can be made using this very appealing natural material but one of the most effective celebrations of its qualities is for tea caddies.


Kaba Zaiku cherry bark products, made from the bark of the Yamazakura mountain cherry tree, are one-of-a-kind in Japan. There are over twelve varieties of bark used in producing Kaba Zaiku wares including varieties such as candy skin bark and torn bark, each chosen in accordance with the design. Thanks to their hand-crafted process, no two products are alike in the world.

How to make

First, the bark of the Yamazakura mountain cherry tree is peeled. Then using only the bark and decorations on its surface, countless layers are made, and then the shape carved, and then polished for finishing.