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The Bento Evolution

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There was a time when plastic wrap, microwave and dishwashing machine didn't exist.  It was also a time when no one was worrying about environmental pollution and micro-plastics in our food. 

People respected Nature for what it provided.  

Be INSPIRED by Japanese Craft Intelligence.
REVITALIZE and REINVENT ma-ge-mono wooden boxes.
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Ma-ge-mo-no (Japanese for "bent" "objects"), refers to boxes and objects made by bending thin planks of cedar or cypress, with sakura bark stitching at the joint.   This craft carries over 300 years of history, as utensils including water ladle and offering trays in Shinto shrines.  During the Edo and Meiji period (16th to 19th century), they became humble utilitarian wares including wooden bento boxes for the commoners.  

Historically, magemono were produced in many towns throughout Japan. Aging population, post-war industrialization, and the boom in commercial plastic-ware with off-shore cheap labor production have all led to the decline of the craft. 

In the age of social and environmental sustainability...

What is Magemono?

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Hakozaki is an old neighborhood in Fukuoka Japan, and its name translates to the "Cape with a Box".  The area's most famous establishment is Hakozaki Shrine, built in 921 to commemorate the 15th Emperor Ojin, deified as God Hachiman.  When Emperor Ojin was born, the mother Empress Jingu, placed his umbilical cord in a bent wood box and buried it at the ground of Hakosaki, and ordered a pine tree to be planted to mark the spot.  The pine tree has since been named as the Box Pine and it is still growing strong in front of the Shrine. (See the pine behind the red fence).

The Shrine

Hakozaki Shrine & Bentwood Box

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With its proximity to Hakozaki Shrine, Maidashi was once a flourishing town where many Shrine officials and workers used to live.  Up until 1930s, the street leading to the Shrine was lined with over 20 family-run artisans' workshops making bent-wood wares for the shrine and for common uses. 

Thus comes the name "Maidashi Magemono" 馬出曲物, bentwood craft named after the district. It has since be renamed as "Hakata Magemono" due to municipal name changes. It has been listed as one of the Important Cultural Intangible Property for Hakata Fukuoka.

The Craft

Hakozaki Shrine & Bentwood Box

Hakozaki Shrine & Bentwood Box

Maidashi Bentwood Craft

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Few centuries ago, the bustling main street of Maidashi town was lined with magemono bent-wood shops ran by 20 some families. Currently there are only 2 families in Fukuoka producing Hakata magemono. And Shibata-Toku (established 1850) is the only remaining magemono shops in the original district of Maidashi.  

The Shop

ShibataToku 柴田徳商店 Est.1850

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Taketombo, established in 2018, is a social enterprise devoted to the revitalization of Japanese Traditional crafts through creative intervention and activities. 

 

The Magemonogatari Project was initiated in 2021, aiming to leverage a new magemono product to re-energize the Craft, creating new use and interests among younger generation, raise awareness about the value of handmade objects and introduce this craft to an international stage. 

The Creator

Taketombo / goenne.com

The Makers

柴田 淑子  柴田徳商店6代目

Yoshiko Shibata 

6th Generation Owner and Maker

Ms. Shibata desired to guard and continue her family heritage.  After her father's passing, she asked retired artisan Mr. Taizo Morita to return to work at the shop so she can keep it going.   Ms. Shibata makes the boxes with Mr. Morita while manages the shop at the front. 

woodshop japan bento box

Material 1

Cedar

Kyushu island is one of the biggest producer of quality cedar timber in Japan.

High quality cedar is needed to make magemono.  One of the most important skill as magemono artisan is to have the trained eye to procure best quality logs.  Knots and grains affect not only the aesthetics, but also the properties of product.

The Box

DIMENSION

Overall

Top Tier