Kaikado was established in 1875, shortly after Japan opened its doors to the rest of the world. With civilization came the import of tinplate from England. Tin was used for the plating of steel, and was considered a fashionable foreign-made item.
In the Edo era, canisters made from tin were a commonplace means of storage for tea, as were jars made from china or earthenware. It was the company's founder, Kiyosuke, who first designed the tin tea caddy and made it into a commercially available item.
His aim was to provide a well-designed, functional tea caddy capable of storing the type of tea leaves commonly sold by dealers. Showing sympathy for local traditions, Kaikado designed a product that would leave a lasting impression on the discerning Kyoto locals. A great many orders were received from tea dealers and hardware merchants alike. The tea caddies were tailor made to the requirements and needs of each and every store. In a time before the invention of the refrigerator, air tightness was key to maintaining the flavour and quality of freshly picked leaves for a period of one year. Kaikado's tea caddies were a blessing in disguise to tea dealers, in particular in terms of their functionality. Before long, there was an increase in the number of stores supplying the tea caddies, in Kyoto and throughout Western Japan. A manufacturing process that involves anywhere between 130 to 140 steps, the hand-made tea caddies have virtually remained true to the designs established by Kaikado's founding generation. The die and mold used in the early years of the company is still in use today, whilst some shapes of tea caddy used 130 years ago are still in production today.
In 1916, the company was succeeded by Otokichi. The second generation, Otokichi was said to be the most able craftsman of all generations. The third generation, Hikojiro, successfully led the company through difficult times in which, preceding and after the 2nd World War, materials were scarce and tools also had to be sent away in the name of war. The period of economic growth that followed the war years, saw the advent of cheaply made, inexpensive tea caddies. Dissatisfied with this, the fourth generation successor, Shouchi, continued to make tea caddies in the traditional manner, at the same time developing a caddy made from copper. The fifth generation, Seiji, started producing tea caddies to sell to the general public and for this purpose introduced a portable caddy suited to the individual user. Seiji also developed a caddy made from brass. The sixth successor, Takahiro, developed a two-tiered tea caddy. He initiated the first ever collaborations with tea brands, and marketed his caddies abroad. Whilst maintaining tradition, Takahiro set his sights on the global market. Adding a new element per generation is a tradition that Kaikado has carried throughout its history.
Even as its horizons widened, Kaikado has made the same tea caddies it has always done. Doing away with excessive detail, the caddies are based on the pursuit of function. Their simple forms are overflowing with functionality. Each time a Kaikado tea caddy is handled, it develops a unique sheen specific to the type of material from which it is made. Witnessing the changes in color that develop over time will surely bring great joy to the person wishing to nurture their caddy over time. A tea caddy that has been filled with the memories of 100 years can be passed onto the next generation to treasure. With the hand-made materials and methods that comprise Kaikado’s selection of caddies, one can enjoy the expressions unique to each and every tin caddy, or the rapidly changing appearance of copper, or the mellow changes of color that make the brass tea caddies so unique. These qualities forming an important characteristic to its tea caddies, Kaikado have selected only materials with which this can be achieved.
The precision inherent in the hand-made process of the tea caddies is also unique to Kaikado. The double-walled construction guarantees excellent air tightness and will protect tea leaves from humidity whilst helping them to maintain their scent. In addition to being used for storing tea leaves, the caddies be used to hold a wide variety of foodstuffs. They can also be used to store English or Chinese tea, as well as coffee, spices, pasta and grain. We are confident that our customers will not only enjoy the long-lasting quality of our tea caddies, and the scents that arise with each removal of the lid, but experience the difference in function between our caddies and standard containers or boxes.
Having spanned 130 years of history, it is our wish to maintain the art of and passion for our tea caddies for future generations to enjoy.