Akita Cedar Tub and Barrel ”Tarutomi Kamata” 11th Generation, Yuhei Kamata

Contemporary Master Craftsman Creates Akita Cedar Tub and Barrel
”Tarutomi Kamata 11th generation, Yuhei Kamata”

Craft Created with Natural Akita Cedar

Alongside Yoshino, Akita is famous for its cedar. Noshiro-city in particular was abundant with Akita cedar. On of the craftwork made using Akita cedar is the Akita Cedar Tub and Barrel. Yuhei Kamata told us ”This craftwork was born because of natural cedar.” Kamata was designated Contemporary Master Craftsman by the Japanese government. Beginning his craftwork at age 18, he continues to create Akita Cedar Tub and Barrel. He has been awarded numerous awards, including the Akita Governor Award, and was designated as a traditional craftsman in 1985. A Master Craftsman indeed.

Utensils that are closely tied to everyday life

There have been reports that remnants of Akita Cedar Tub and Barrels have been found in the Akita castle ruins, built during the Heian period, which proves how much they were used in daily life. During the Edo period, support from the lords of the Akita clan had tremendous influence in boosting its popularity. It is a craftwork that conveys the gentle warmth of the cedar, and also has distinguishing dignity and beauty in its features. The word ”oke taru” (tub and barrel) may lead you to think that all their work is rather large. However, recently many smaller items such as ”sake” glasses and mug cups are being made. Kamata says, ”Items that were once placed on the floor, are now on the table”. As lifestyles change, what we use on a daily basis also changes. Kamata was quick to pick up on this transition, and converted to making vases, interior items and ”sake” vessels.

A reason is needed, because they are everyday utensils.

We recognize them as ”utensils”. At the beginning of the interview, we were told how cedar is a great match for Japanese food. For example, rice containers. Unlike rice cookers today, placing cooked rice in a cedar container will help the rice slowly cool down, bringing out the sweetness in the process. Cedar barrels are also suitable for fermented foods such as ”sake”, ”shoyu” and pickles, enabling them to ”breathe”. Kamata emphasized this connection.
”We are not creating an artist’s piece of work. All the more reason for us to have a purpose – to make things tastier, and make things more convenient. That is why we need to put in effort. Without effort, we cannot expect good results,” Kamata said. Having a wide perspective is also important, not allowing the word ”tradition” to restrict one’s thoughts. That is how tradition lives on in modern times.


Tarutomi Kamata Inc.
4-3 Suehirocho Noshiro-City Akita 016-0895
URL http://www.chuokai-akita.or.jp/oketaru/kamata/