Timeless craftsmanship Fujiki Denshiro Shoten Co., Ltd.

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Category: Japanese Design & Daily goods

Cherry bark craftware

Kabazaiku is a traditional Japanese craft wherein thin slices of cherry bark are pressed onto objects to give them a rich color and lustrous finish. The practice was originated by samurai around Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture. To this day, it's the only place on Earth where cherry bark craftware is made.

162 years of heritage

Fujiki Denshiro Shoten has been producing such goods since 1851, just after the end of the Edo period. The company has been family-owned for six generations. Its artisans originally created kabazaiku tobacco and medicine cases for local samurai. But, as times changed, chazutsu-or tea caddies-became their primary product.

Koichi Fujiki, CEO and 6th-generation head of Fujiki Denshiro Shoten

The techniques remain largely unchanged

The process used to produce the caddies has remained essentially unchanged over the years. Using the traditional katamono technique, thin wood is layered on a round wooden core. More layers are made using a steel trowel to form a firm, airtight, wooden cylinder. The coating is built up layer by layer until it's finally wrapped in cherry tree bark. It's then sanded and waxed to reveal a rich wooden finish.

All the bark used by Fujiki Denshiro Shoten is harvested in summer, when the cherry trees shed their surface layers. The trees replace their bark naturally. This means the resource is sustainable and the products eco-friendly.

Modern meets traditional

Under the brand Denshiro, CEO Koichi Fujiki has endeavored to both expand the product lineup for the local market as well as develop the company's international presence. To that end, Fujiki has recently overseen the creation of new product lines in collaboration with designers.

The Wazutsu series uses different kinds of wood in addition to cherry to create a characteristically Japanese yet modern-looking product. Products from the Obizutsu line have a colored coating with a belt-or obi-of natural cherry bark peeking through. As the tops of the products are opened, interiors of traditionally crafted cherry bark are revealed. In addition to these newer lines, Denshiro offers its full range of traditionally crafted kabazaiku products including document trays, boxes, other trays and tableware. In 2011 and 2013, Fujiki Denshiro received a "Good Design Award" for its tea caddy products.

The Wazutsu series won a Good Design Award in 2011

Fujiki Denshiro Shoten's showroom in Kakunodate, Akita prefecture

Becoming a global brand

Denshiro sells in a number of high-end specialty and department stores in Japan, as well as stores in France, Germany and Switzerland. The company currently focuses on countries that boast a tea culture, along with a large enough customer base able to afford their high-end products. Transitioning from an established local name to an internationally recognized brand poses challenges. But with exclusivity, quality and 162 years of heritage, those at Fujiki Denshiro Shoten feel ready to craft a new era of global success.