I can’t remember the first time I saw a Kaikado tea caddy. Perhaps it was Kyoto, or perhaps it was even at my friend Tim’s teahouse in London, but what I do remember was the satisfying sound it makes when the lid slowly oozes down to close, forcing the air out to create a perfect air-tight seal the kind unseen in any other handicraft. I also remember its beautiful colour variations, some overgrown with patina and others a matted, dull, brown colour whilst some are a shiny bronze.
This is Kaikado’s 144 year-legacy, a meticulous art form which involves over 130 steps from cutting the raw materials to polishing and packaging. This is something that has been passed down generation by generation until it reached Taka today, its sixth-generation helmsman.
After sipping coffee at Kaikado’s café in Shichijo, I went over to watch Taka at work in Kaikado’s studio last year, hammering the lids to shape by hand. Examining Taka’s beaten up hammer, which was passed down by his grandfather, I asked whether he has ever thought about doing something else, and whether he will also pass the baton to his son?
Taka replied without thinking, “Of course! In Japan, six generations is nothing. I have friends in other craftsmanship who are the 15th generation of the family!” He did, however, in fact work in engineering before taking over the reigns of Kaikado, and finds it decidedly more interesting to introduce something his family has perfected over a hundred years to the world, than working on numbers behind a desk.
Today Plantation is proud to be Kaikado’s select partner in Hong Kong. We hope that one day we will have the privilege to invite Taka to come over and give us a demonstration of how this family heirloom is made.