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Cherry bark

Cherry bark is a durable material because it grows back after being harvested. Cherry bark articles have two main types of finish: marble, which retains the appearance of the raw bark; natural, whose surface is sanded to a glazed effect. The surface of the tea boxes will become more glossy as you handle them.

Bark harvesting

Cherry bark is harvested between August and September in the mountains of northern Japan because the trees contain a large amount of water. This way, the craftsmen can remove it cleanly from the trunk. Then it is dried naturally for about two years. Even after cherry bark has been harvested from a tree, if the total amount harvested is less than one-third of the surface area of the tree trunk, the bark regenerates.

Finishing the bark

The raw bark of wild cherry has a grey-brown colour and its pattern is called Marble. It can be used as it is to expire the natural pattern of the tree. But a bark with a beautiful marbled pattern is rare, and therefore precious. The raw bark becomes reddish-brown when sanded and then, as it is polished, it becomes bright and red, known as Natural. To transform the wild cherry bark into "Marble" and "Natural" craft material, the craftsman cuts and polishes each sheet of bark by hand.


The "Katamono", "Kijimono" and "Tatamimono" techniques are used to produce articles made of cherry bark.

Katamono

This technique is used to manufacture cylinders for tea boxes. The craftsman glues layers of cherry bark and wood. He then wraps them around a cylindrical wooden mold and heats them with a heated trowel to tie them together.

As all parts of a tea box are made from a cylinder, the boxes have a high airtightness and protect the tea leaves well against moisture.

Kijimono

It is a technique used to make boxes or rectangular objects such as trays and tea boxes. It is done as before using a heated iron to press the layers of cherry bark and wood on a wooden base.

Tatamimono

This technique is used to sculpt pre-assembled layers of polished cherry bark into all kinds of shapes. Each shape is sculpted to highlight the beauty of each layer. The shapes are then polished to an extremely high degree, which enhances the original lustre of the cherry bark. Pieces created in this way are used as lid handles inside high quality tea boxes, or for jewelry.