Monday, 8 February 2016

Japanese Bamboo Basket Making

There are various kinds of bamboo growing throughout the village. Aotake is the prized one for fine basketry. The bamboo is harvested from November when it has stopped drinking water for the cold months.

Such an amazing natural resource. Like most of they traditional crafts the Japanese have taken the use of bamboo to a head-shaking-in-disbelief astounding level.

Luckily I have a human resource nearby as well. Many of you know my driver, Ishikawa san and have purchased his fine work and taken it back to your home countries. I've studied on and off over the years how to work with bamboo. I've had a few workshops at the house the past few months and I participate myself trying to keep a cool head.

There are blankets that need weaving, stencils to cut, Japanese jackets to make, indigo fields to plow and silk to spin......the last thing needed is another passion. There isn't enough time. 

Ilkka is a sweet and bright Finnish guy staying here at the farmhouse for two months to study with me. He has fallen in love with Japanese crafts. Ishikawa san came over for the afternoon and showed Ilkka how to weave a basket from bamboo freshly cut and sized down to workable strips.

Takeshima san and me removing the natural oil from the bamboo over the fire. The Japanese go through those extra time consuming steps to get it right.  Perhaps in the future I will set up bamboo residency programs at the farmhouse. In five weeks the workshop members could harvest bamboo and process it into strips a few hours a day to build up a stock to take home. For a few more hours a day they could study basket design with Ishikawa san. I would take the time of myself to participate. 


  1. I well remember the demonstration we had last time I stayed at the farm. Such skill and craftsmanship. We were all in awe at the smooth movements and precise twists and turns.Aawesome indeed., but I do wonder where you will find the time/ good luck

  2. When friends advise me I don't have time for another craft I say 'I will never 'have time' so I may as well just do it." Everything will fall into place. I was told I did not have to go all the way to Japan to learn indigo dyeing , but I so did! Love seeing the shots of you all beavering away...

  3. bamboo is more magic, beautiful basket.i continue to find deep magic in paper, and am so ready to make more. besides that, it's shifu making. happy winter to you.

  4. Hello, love your idea of a bamboo residency program. I am interested to learn these skills. Your farm looks wonderful. :) Robyn