The barrel used to play an important role in every household as daily necessities. Today, the barrel usage has declined significantly mainly because the plastic replaced its important role as household necessity. However, this is an inflection point for the growth of “high quality barrel” These high-quality barrels play significant roles in portraying the elegance and politeness of the prestigious restaurant especially in Kyoto. Furthermore, the history of the traditional woodcrafts, creates sophisticated woodcrafts that will be remained in the future with the technique that has been passed down.
The barrels for bath and Ohitsu (wooden container for cooked rice) are used under the harshest environment compared to the other applications of woodcrafts. These barrel can withstand both wet and dry conditions as well ss temperature fluctuations. Craftsmen execute their process with a great understanding of characteristic of wood.
The beauty of these barrels comes from its well aligned wood grain and its texture along with its strong property. Therefore, these barrels represent the Japanese woodcrafts craftmanship.
The barrels may start to warp over the course of the time of its usage even after it processed into the barrel due to its property of the natural material.
and the hoops holding wooden piece loosen that causes it to fall apart. However, The barrels can be used infinitely by adjusting the tightness of the hoop. The barrels represent Japanese traditional aesthetic sense of highly valuing “the reusability” along with the survival in the nature.
The raw materials used for the barrels are intentionally conditioned in the harsh environment such as rain and windy environment to strengthen its property. According to the craftsman, the newly fresh wood materials are easy to deal with, so this is the reason why he conditions these at harsh environment at the earlier phase.
One of the craftsmen said that the reason why they purposely put the material in a harsh environment is that wood as material is not easy to deal with especially when they are young, they thus need be strengthened.
Shoji-gata(straightening mold) is used to curve the wood with no gap between each wooden pieces. The frequent use of the light beam ensures to prevents the light passage.
Shoji-gata is the tool used to adjust the angels of the cutting edge at the sharpening phase of the outer side of the barrel. The size of its mold same as the barrel.
Interestingly the pieces cut from one cedar tree may consist color variations. It may have reddish or yellowish color with the well aligned grain or inconsistent gran.
The artisans assemble the pieces similar to each other. By doing so, not only the beauty of the appearance, but also the problem is less likely to come out when the barrel is used for many years.
Organizer is sized to perfectly fit into the drink holder of the vehicles, so it is designed slightly narrower than the other barrels. The roundness of the barrels is different from the top to the bottom, so five to six different rounded tiles are used.
The unreachable area is shaved using the tool which consists of the plane with the blade attached to the handle of the hammer. Its highly detail work enable to create such thin top. This is what creates the Kyoto barrel iconic with its gradual thickening toward the bottom.
These barrels making tools are collected over the past 10 years since his training period. Some of these are old as Edo-period.
The craftsman keep adjusting these tools to make these tool sustainable.
The beauty of these ancient tools is its property of not easy to deform.
There’s such a small plane inside…