Kaikado: World’s Oldest Tea Caddy Maker | Craft

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History of kaikado

Kaikado was founded by Kiyosuke Kaikado in Kyoto during the Edo era (1603-1868 AD) when it was commonplace to store tea in earthenware jars. He provided an original means of storage while upholding native traditions, which left a lasting impression on the locals and tea merchants. Over the past three hundred years, Kaikado’s craftsmanship and heritage has been passed down six generations.

Takahiro Yagi, the current maker, has made it his lifework to continue the family’s workshop and adapt the craft to the needs of the present market. The modernised image and use of the tea caddies has retained the approachability and relevance of Kaikado for everyday use.


 

Making of tea caddy

Located by the Kamo River in the residential streets of Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, the small workshop has four to six craftsmen working at individual stations. Each of the specialist craftsmen provides expertise and years of experience. The dye and mould from the founding generation are still in use today and these handmade tea caddies follow over 140 meticulous steps, staying true to the craftsmanship and process of Kiyosuke Kaikado.  

There is a constant rhythm of hammering upon entering the workshop. This repetitive sound may go unnoticed but is an essential part of caddy making, with the craftsmen listening carefully to ensure that each step is in accordance with the next.

Each tea caddy reveals its imperfections through its sound. Taka listens to the tone of the metal being hammered as an indication for when the shape is correct before moving onto the next stage. Often when he is supervising or training younger craftsmen, he is able to monitor their progress simply by listening.


 The internal tin wall is thinned and smoothed out, removing hammer marks and any other bumps in the metal. Through this step, each lining is tailor-made to tightly fit the outer wall.

The internal tin wall is thinned and smoothed out, removing hammer marks and any other bumps in the metal. Through this step, each lining is tailor-made to tightly fit the outer wall.

 The outer wall made from brass or copper is lined with an internal tin wall. Its double walled design retains the flavour and quality of freshly picked tealeaves as well as coffee beans, herbs, and spices.

The outer wall made from brass or copper is lined with an internal tin wall. Its double walled design retains the flavour and quality of freshly picked tealeaves as well as coffee beans, herbs, and spices.


 The precision inherent in the hand-made process of the tea caddies is unique to Kaikado. The final fitting is done by hand, ensuring the quality and feel of each tea caddy.

The precision inherent in the hand-made process of the tea caddies is unique to Kaikado. The final fitting is done by hand, ensuring the quality and feel of each tea caddy.

 One of the final steps involves polishing the surface of individual tea caddies. The craftsman uses a very fine powder to eliminate the smallest of imperfections. This stage results in an immaculate and reflective finish that allows the forming of an even patina over time. 

One of the final steps involves polishing the surface of individual tea caddies. The craftsman uses a very fine powder to eliminate the smallest of imperfections. This stage results in an immaculate and reflective finish that allows the forming of an even patina over time. 

 
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The PATINA OF TEA CADDY

Each tea caddy is hand built to last generations of use and will develop a rich patina over the years while remaining timeless in design. The patina of the tea caddies will develop according to the owner’s particular touch and use, making a very bespoke finish to each caddy.

The bright and vibrant tint of copper will slowly form a warm leathery patina while the golden, mirror-like surface of brass will develop into rich, dark sienna.



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KAIKADO SHOWROOM

Based in Kyoto, the original workshop of Kiyosuke Kaikado has been converted into a showroom. Tucked away behind the showroom is the workshop where the fifth and sixth generation maker, Seiji Yagi and Takahiro Yagi, work.

Seiji and his wife still live above the showroom, and parked outside is Taka’s racecar. Taka, the sixth generation maker of Kaikado, shares his passion for tea caddies with racecar driving.

The only hint of what is inside is this small window by the entrance, which reveals an enticing glimpse of Kaikado tea caddies highlighting its simple and timeless form.

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The original workshop has since been converted into a contemporary showroom with the full Kaikado collection on display including century-old tea caddies. The showroom retained some of the fittings and tools from the workshop, which informs the design of the interior reminiscent of Kaikado’s roots. The classic elements including the traditional tatami and shoji panels complement the contemporary appeal of the tea caddies. 


 There is a multitude of different sizes and variations of Kaikado objects. Placed on the very top shelf are the oldest tea caddies with the weathered surface of the copper caddy appearing to be a deep, matte brown.

There is a multitude of different sizes and variations of Kaikado objects. Placed on the very top shelf are the oldest tea caddies with the weathered surface of the copper caddy appearing to be a deep, matte brown.

 

 Kaikado Cafe situated down the road from the showroom and workshop is another way to enjoy the tea caddies while having a cup of tea.

Kaikado Cafe situated down the road from the showroom and workshop is another way to enjoy the tea caddies while having a cup of tea.

 Due to handmade nature of the tea caddies, Kaikado only works with a select few showrooms and stores outside of Japan. Native & Co carries three sizes in both copper and brass. The three different sizes include 40g, 120g, and 200g.

Due to handmade nature of the tea caddies, Kaikado only works with a select few showrooms and stores outside of Japan. Native & Co carries three sizes in both copper and brass. The three different sizes include 40g, 120g, and 200g.


CraftNative & Co