Odate Bentwood Work

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Mage-wappa has a combination of simple beauty and practicality. It has been used and cherished by many for a long time, and is often noticed for the humorous and unique sound of its name.

Wappa is a wooden product that is made from a thin board of wood such as cedar and cypress, soaked in hot water and shaped into the form of a cylinder. It is recognized as a traditional craftwork in many parts of Japan, yet what makes the Mage-wappa in Odate special is the beauty of grain and the great aroma of its material, Akita cedar. Odate is an extremely cold land, so the trees grow slowly while forming dense annual rings, and Akita cedar has beautiful grain and great flexibility.

In 1602, people in the area were suffering extreme poverty in the aftermath of a big war (known as the Battle of Sekigahara) which split the nation into two. The feudal lord of the time, seeking a miracle that would save his people, came up with the idea of using naturally grown Akita cedar in his territory to make Mage-wappa – he saw that people involved in logging and lumber-sawing made bento boxes with cedar boards. He encouraged his warriors to make Mage-wappa as a side job, which is said to be the beginning of Odate Mage-wappa. Eventually, these were carried to places such as Sakata, Niigata, and Kanto and became popular in many areas.

In 1980, Mage-wappa was certified as a Traditional Craftwork of Japan. Its natural beauty and practicality are now recognized and valued by many, and its popularity is spreading overseas as well.

The natural antiseptic property of cedar helps keep food in the bento box fresh. Most products are not lacquered, so you can also enjoy the great scent of cedar wood.

The logging of naturally grown Akita cedar was prohibited recently for forest preservation reasons. For the current production of Odate mage-wappa, naturally grown Akita cedar – more than 200 years old – which was stocked before the banning and planted 100 year old Akita cedar are being used. Both of these have different characteristics and comparing is recommended.

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