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New traditions: Japan’s 700-year-old ‘oke’ craft gets a modern makeover

( CNN) It’s hard to envisage the humble pail has become a work of art, but those made by Shuji Nakagawa in his Kyoto studio go for thousands of dollars and have a loyal following.

Smooth, tactile and fragrant with the heady smell of hinoki — the Japanese cypress they are erected from — “ki-oke” are for a variety of purposes from storing rice and miso adhesive to holding water for bathing.

The level of workmanship, sharpened over a century of teach and is built around traditional methods that go back 700 years, creates a flawless finish and it is almost impossible to see the seams between the slats on the buckets.

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