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Testimonial from Israel

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Dear Iacopo,
We bought an Ofuro from you about 2 years ago and finally installed it. It is wonderful – beautifully crafted and elegant and wonderfully relaxing.
Thank you
E.N.S. from Israel

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hinoki products pamphlets are ready!

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Finally we gave birth to the first Bartok design pamphlet.
Since we sell mainly outside of japan and tru the internet, until now I always procrastinated but now I will be finally able to satisfy all the requests of friends wanting to present the Bartok design tubs and accessories to trade shows, friends and clients.
There are also several hotels catering to international clientele who asked me some presentation material in the past.

If you need some pamphlets or want to promote the Bartok design products (contact iacopo torrini for details) let us know!

the secret of lacquerware beauty #1

What is the difference between “MOKUGO” and wood ?
“MOKUGO” is a kind of synthetic wood.  It is made of flour resin, wood powder and wood.  Japanese lacquer-ware “Urushi” made of solid wood is very expensive.
In addition, a real wood base is very delicate as it is susceptible to cracks caused by abrupt change of temperature and humidity once in a while.
For this reason, we strongly recommend Japanese lacquerware made on “MOKUGO” bases to an overseas customer.

How is “Japanese lacquer” differing from “urethane coating” ?
The Japanese lacquer is made from a sap extracted from a bush called “Urushi” in japanese (the botanical name is: Toxicodendron vernicifluum). In many cases it looks like a bush, the lacquer tree (also known as the Japanese sumac or the varnish tree) can grow up to 20 meters high and is present in Japan, China and Korea.

Currently, lacquer trees are becoming more and more scarce in Japan. Besides, the craftsman with the professional ability to gather the lacquer sap is limited. This is one of the reasons which makes the Japanese lacquer “Urushi” very expensive.
On the other hand urethane is a cheap and easy to work with substitute of the lacquer. By adding a pigment (commonly red or black) in a synthetic resin, it is possible to create a surrogate of japanese lacquer.
Because it can easily mass-produced, it can be sold at a very low price.
Additionally, urethane items are easy to use and require little care.
On the other hand, genuine lacquer tree product needs careful care to keep a good condition.

Urethane coated “surrogate lacquer-ware” are very popular. Especially the miso soup bowls(cups) used in general home and restaurants are finished with urethane coating.
Urethane used to be very glossy and easy to scratch: felt like plastic in general was cheap looking.
Technological improvements are making urethane coated surrogate lacquer-ware better looking and more resilient.

Said that…as you can imagine, authentic lacquer-ware beautiful shine and refined touch are still a different planet.
Real lacquer-ware can give you strong emotions and help you sharpen your sensibility.
It is like receiving a kiss from a princess: it may take great effort to obtain one but it is definitely worth it.
Owning and taking care of a lacquerware item may be a life changing experience!

Few important notes you for you to keep in mind:
1. Do not wash lacquer items with a dish detergent. Alkaline detergents must not be used as they remove the shine and make the lacquer-ware look dull.
2. Wash it only with tepid water and wipe off moisture with a dish towel promptly. Then finish rinsing it out with dry dish towel. Finally put away it after just drying for a while away from direct sun exposure.
3. Fingerprints may leave permanent signs if the item is not properly cleaned or left unused for a long time.
When storing lacquer-ware for a long term, it is important to wear cotton gloves when you take care of it. Do not leave your finger prints. etc.

Delicate care is necessary to preserve the refined beauty of lacquer-ware, as you would do for an artwork.
What is important is what you are expecting from you relationship with lacquer-ware items.
Are you looking for daily tableware or for a work of art?
Which one do you want?  It is just up to you!

We have been caught in the NET… (Server problems)

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Dear japan lovers community:

As you might have noticed,

    our server was down on on 5/9 and 5/10 for about 20 hours.

If you contacted us by email but are not receiving an answer, please contact us again.
We have been caught in the NET…
Also, I noticed our japanese IP address has problems with some hotmail and gmail accounts.

If your messages are returned, please use the alternative address as below:
iax1213[at]gmail[dot]com

By the way, the image on the top are koi-nobori (flying carps). Did you know?
Every family displays (or used to…) this fish shaped flags in front of their house. One carp for each family member, starting from the father and mother on top and following with all the children in order of age.
The festival culminates on 5/5, a festivity dedicated to children.
The carp is a divine creature and brings good auspices to the kids as they may avoid obstacles and swim thru life in a cheerful way.
Of course the mild weather and blue skies of may are even more pleasant with these colorful ornaments which move together with the wind!

But … lets go back to work now.
For all of you who missed us (I received 3 messages on facebook) sorry again and YES, I am looking forward to working with you and remain at your disposal for any question/problem.
All the Best!

Bartok design Japan Co.
Manager: Iacopo Torrini
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cell.: +81-90-8205-1200
iax1213[at]gmail[dot]com
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(click on the photo below to open the related blog entry)

asnaro doubleseater for Odessa

This is the first Bartok design tub going to Ukraine.

The client had problems in contacting us and for some reason the e-mails were bouncing off from the server. But she used an alternative email and we could define the details in few rounds.

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Here are the specs of the tub:

material: natural Japanese Asnaro AB (quarter sawn)

sizes: L1400mm x W800 x H685mm (ext. dim.)

details: nat. oil apron,  wood dowels. Iron brand at front side top-right.

options: asnaro wood internal seat W400mm,  asnaro wood traditional cover 820x200x18 (5pcs)

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The tub was shipped thru a forwarder appointed by the client. We arranged for the pickup directly from our packing company which is already very close to Narita airport.

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It is a perfect tub for 2 people. I hope the clients can have relaxing chats and enjoy the fresh aroma of japanese wood it for many years to come! Of course the seats can be quickly removed for a deep plunge japanese style soaking experience.

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asnaro tub for Dallas


Compact and cute asnaro bathtub ordered thru an architectural office in Texas.
From the first request of information to shipping it took 1 month exactly so I can say it was a smooth order process.
The client is going to use it in a master bathroom remodel and after the initial quotation, we modified the corner joints from metal plates to wooden dowels and added an overflow cut on the short side.

Here below are the specs of the tub:

material: natural Japanese Asnaro AB grade bathtub (quarter sawn)
sizes: L900mm x W700 x H710mm (ext. dim.)
note: natural oil apron, wood dowels. Iron brand at front side top-right
accessories:
– Asnaro wood internal seat W300mm
– Asnaro wood traditional cover 720x180x18 (5pcs)
– Sawara wood ladle with handle (180D 290H)
– Sawara wood large bucket(230D 120H):
– Hinoki wood traditional stool (300x180x200H)

Survey about yukata: RESULTS

We received 26 votes thru the survey form and one via email.

Here is a summary of the results:
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The Yoshiwara design won with ample advantage
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Yes, I think we will apply the logo on the bottom corner
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Almost a dual match between navy and red. I think we will provide the two options for you to choose!
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We will develop one or two patterns of yukata bathrobe and will keep remain open to any further comment or advice you may have! All the Best//

Getting ready for the next production of special reserve oil

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In the pictures above you can see about 800 Kg. of scraps of kiso hinoki wood.
I am going to distillate this material for the second harvest of special reserve hinoki essential oil.
To my knowledge, there is no maker producing oil from 250 (and over) year old hinoki wood.
As we could experiment in the first harvest (autumn 2014) the scent is superb, less forest like and more spicy than commercial grade hinoki essential oil (usually made with 70-90 year old lumber)

Before bottling the production, I want to offer a special deal to the heavy users and commercial users.
I will sell about half of the total in 100ml bottles at 12,000 JPY per bottle. or 10 bottles for 100,000 JPY.
Compare to the 4500JPY in case of the 10cc individual package bottle with drip cap!
It is almost 1/5 the price!

If interested please contact me at: japan@bartokdesign.com

karakami wall panels

Do you know the “washi” hand made paper from japan?
There are many qualities of translucent, ivory colored, naturally textured, wabisabi rice papers from japan.
Washi was used for writing, for everyday items, for shoji panels and even as a wall covering.
Very good.

Second question: do you know the paper used for fusuma doors?

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It is also based on washi paper but it is hand printed or hand painted and comes in a large single sheet roughly of the size of a tatami. Well, in japan there are many washi types with their proud history and characteristics.

But there is only one fusuma paper which is standing out from the rest: the fusuma paper for excellence is the karakami paper from Kyoto. There are several plain color bases made of  smooth “torinoko” washi on which the pattern is hand printed with woodenblocks. The color consists of natural pigments and inks on a pearl-like mica base. The effect is very stilish: it is perfect and elegant but has some irregularities peculiar of the hand printing.

We went to Kyoto for you to Maruni, one of the most famous maker of karakami paper and owner of a collection of thousands of original woodblocks.

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Here below is the detail of a woodblock. As you can see the image itself is hand carved. The block is moved with speed and precision to create large patterns.

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I was stroken at the modern beauty of a handprint made with use of black “urushi” lacquer. (see below)

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Of course if you visit Maruni you just feel like you want to buy everything… but there was an item that I felt particularly suitable for the japan-lovers allover the world: decorative panels made of pleated karakami.

The panels are quite small and can be easily shipped with EMS. They can hang on walls and used for decoration of small rooms. I thought it is ideal for a present and bought some to send to friends and family.

If you like them too, take a look in the bartok design shop.

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The panels are packaged in an elegant box, wrapped in rice paper and  accompanied with a certificate of guarantee.

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There is a short video to watch on Google Arts & Culture.

Hinoki tub for Jakarta

Here below are the specs of the tub:

material: natural Japanese Hinoki AB grade bathtub (quartersawn)
sizes: L1400mm x W900mm x H640mm (ext. dim.) 540mm (deep)
note: wooden dowels, natural oil finish
accessories:
– Hinoki wood “Sunoko” floor grate panel 900 x 700 x H55mm
– Asnaro wood stool (330x220x300H)
– Sawara wood large bucket(230D 120H)
– Hygrometer (complimentary)

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