Blog

a toilet to match your kimono

Well, I am not talking about the interior design of your powder room: I am actually meaning the actual sanitary equipment.
That is the link between a toilet and a kimono?

Mr. Yoshio Jogan, the director of the Kyoto Design Factory is turning state of the art Japanese automatic toilets into works of art.
Jogan-sensei started actually a kimono designer. Traditionally the production of kimonos is carried out with the coperation between several highly specialized craftsmen. The product takes shape as it is passed on from the binder to the dyer, to the weaver and then to the block printer and/or designer.
Jogan Sensei was involved in block printing and design of the kimonos and he shaped his culture and sensibility thru years of apprenticeship. In the world of Japanese crafts, you first need to become a master of the ancient shapes. You need to let go your individuality and absorb the basic of the traditional imagery and sense of composition. Only after tens of years and after you become a perfect copier you are allowed to start breaking the rules.
And this is what Jogan sensei did. But as his design retains a very traditional (and extremely delicate) touch, his revolutionary step is more structural than formal.
In order to save the declining kimono culture he decided to make a pact with the devil. He threw away the wood blocks for stamping the kimono outline pattern and started to use intensively the computer and ink jet printing.
A part for optimizing time, cost and energies, his revolution enabled him to bring the kimono culture outside of the clothing world.

(more…)

Out in the green – round hot tub

A client from the USA kindly shared with us a beautiful picture of her Bartok design`s outdoors hot-tub (roten-buro?)
Of course, the landscape is not included in the package!

Well, I feel this photo does not need too many other comments!!

The tub has arrived and it looks great!! Thanks again …

L. from Pennsylvania

Warranty and Repairs

Warranty: Is there a warranty against cracks/leaks?
We offer full warranty in case of damage during transportation. (replacement)

For any other problem (cracking etc.) we cannot offer a warranty because of the environmental conditions for which we cannot be responsible.

To avoid cracking we recommend to:
1) use the tub often (everyday is ideal)
2) do not use air conditioning or heaters in the bathroom (may be used while the tub is full). Beware also of centralized air conditioning.
3) in case of the above conditions cannot be met, we recommend to keep a bucket full of water inside the tub. This avoids the insurgence of cracks in most cases.

Until today we have supplied over 250 tubs.
We had about 20 reports of cracks or leaks.
In 1 case we replaced the tub.
In 1 case we had the tub shipped back, repaired and have it reinstalled.
In some of the other cases we shipped a kit for repairing the tub (wood color epoxy putty). (Cost is about 3,000 JPY inclusive of shipping fee)
In most cases we supplied advice and the tub could be seamlessly repaired by the user.

With the assumption that all the customers who experienced a crack contacted us (but there may be some exceptions), about 10% of the tubs had crack problems (including tubs 10+ year old).
On the other hand, 90% of the tubs did not experience cracks.
I would say that in 90% of the cases the tubs are used as directed and the environmental conditions are met.

Order and Payment

Most commonly we prefer to accept payment via Wire Transfer/International Bank Transfer to our bank in Japan.

PayPal
For amounts of less than ¥150,000 JPY PayPal is a more convenient option. You may use a PayPal account or a credit card. The fee for each transaction is 4% on the transferred amount (born by the buyer).

Wire Transfer
The wire transfer fee is ¥6500 JPY, per transaction, born by the buyer. For larger amounts, a wire transfer is cheaper. For any wire transfer your bank will make the currency conversion and detract the relative amount in your own currency from your account.

Credit Card
Our secure payment processor is PayPal for credit card payments. Please note the fee of 4% will be added to the buyer total. We accept payment in Japanese Yen. Your credit card provider will make the currency conversion automatically.

Once your order is confirmed we will send you the relevant details and instructions regarding payment.

Other Options
It may be convenient to use the automatic comparison tool here below:https://www.finder.com/international-money-transfers/send-money-to-japan

Deposit

Upon confirmation of your order we require a deposit of:

50% of the custom items (tub and platform).

Once the tub is completed, we will send the pictures for your verification and approval. If you are satisfied and we can proceed with the packaging, at that point we will need the balance payment.

The full balance must be paid in full prior to shipment:

Outstanding amount for custom tub and platform, any accessories plus the cost of packaging and shipping/transportation fees. We just have a limited margin on this product and we cannot afford to take any risk on the payment of the tub.

Packaging / Shipping / Transportation

Due to the fragile nature of our custom-made baths we build a sturdy wooden box to ship it in. The bath is first wrapped in plastic. These precautions are necessary to protect your bath from damage during shipping. Packaging is a non-negotiable cost.

Is the cost inclusive of transportation?

Yes. Each personalized quote includes pick-up in Japan, freight (usually Air via DHL or FedEx), terminal charges and delivery to your door (unless you specify otherwise). We guarantee delivery to your home within 6~8 weeks from the time of confirmed order.

The bathtub unit is delivered in one piece for trouble-free installation. It is not flat-pack, no assembly required beyond installation by your builder / plumber.

Sales Taxes

The price may not include sales taxes. In most cases you (the consignee) will have to fill in a customs application (it can be done by fax) which costs US$200-250 and includes sales tax. You should not have to pay any other charges.

VAT

From time to time we have inquiries about VAT, especially for European countries. Please contact us for more details. We have shipped successfully to most countries around the world so we have experience to draw on.

Currency

We often receive requests for pricelists in USD or EUR. Our invariable answer is that we can only accept payments in JPY (japanese yen). The reason is simple and is based on our comittment to providing our customers the best price conditions.
You know that currencies exchange rate fluctuate. To build a tub we need from 1 to 6 weeks depending on the model and the period of the year. Before entering in production, we correspond with the client for 1-2months, often even more. As you understand there is the likelihood that the exchange rate varies during the period from the original quotation to the actual date of the pre-payment and balance payment. It is called the “currency fluctuation risk”.
Q> Do you think we can bear this risk for free?
A> No, we can not. We operate on a low margin, direct sale model and we cannot afford to lose money on a transaction.
There are two ways of dealing with this “currency fluctuation risk”.
1) We can build up in the prices an additional percentage (let`s say +10% to guarantee a foreign currency quote up to 6 months)
2) We can bill our net prices in JPY and the client pays for the current market value

We always recommend option 2).
We do not like and strongly dis-recommend option 1).
Said so, if a client insists to have an invoice in foreign currency, we will consult with our bank, evaluate the fluctuation risk (of course on the “safe side”) and let you know the risk margin that we need to consider for the transaction.

slaughter of a delicious house in Kobe


I cannot sleep. I just want to cry. I can`t forgive.

In a central area of Kobe they started to demolish a beautiful traditional house.
Along a high traffic street but screened by green, it was a 2 story house with traditional ibushi roof tiles.
It was my favourite, I saw it almost every day. 5 years ago, the old building to the right was demolished and replaced by a tasteless, plasticky prefabricated house. But the beautiful old house remained and the contrast between the smart and refined house and the new unbalanced and basic new house was even more striking.

I always wanted to look inside. But there is no place to park the car, besides I figured it was occupied by an elderly person and I imagined they would have felt scared to see a stranger (and caucasian foreigner…) at their door.

But if I went I could have known their plan, maybe I could make an offer to rent or buy the house.
But everything was so abrupt I just could not take any action.
The greens were manicured until the last day, there was no sign that the propery was abandoned or was on sale.
In my optimistic mindset I just could not conceive that somebody may decide to demolish that beauty.
But the same thing happened 5 years ago with the house to the right. I should have been realistic.
At 46 years old I should have the power of judgement to risk hedge. But now I can just cry on the spilled milk.
I really cannot forgive (myself)

It is a real shame.
There is nothing I can do to stop this slaughter. No time to think what are the options.
Therefore I asked the demolition company if I could take the nice entrance door and maybe even the stone lantern.
The guy was friendly and said “take everything home!”
I called my handiman Israeli friend who has a small truck and we started to load windows and doors.
He was repeating “don`t be greedy…” but all pieces were just so beautiful, so unique that we ended up bringing back 3 loads. Maybe 30 or 40 fixtures and one stone lantern.
I do not have a place to keep this material but will figure out.
Maybe I can share some with the japan lovers in the bartok design community.
My dream at the present is to buy that land and rebuild the same house and reuse the parts I could salvage.

The house was splendid but its compact and airy layout, the smart use of the inner space and its balance with the garden is a example of what architecture should be.

In the back garden, a beautiful stone retaining wall protects the privacy and becomes the magic landscape that could be seen from the north side room. A tiny moss garden with a grand stone lantern. And there was even a little cave, not really a well but a natural small pond of about 2 feet x 2 feet of pristine water coming from the Rokko mountain. I am sure it was used for the tea ceremony.
The stone lantern is very old and has the symbols of the 12 animals of the chinese zodiac. This one already has a buyer. An antique shop bought it for 10,000 dollars. But I think this space in its perfect balance is worth 10 millions…

I hope the people who will buy the land will understand this and will create a beautiful and sensitive house, even better than the previous one. I am in tears not just because this house was pictoresque, of cute, or nostalgic. The real value of this house it that it was very well thought. The builder understood the environment and created a perfect match. Respectful but dynamic. Simple but artistic. Pure intelligence.

I am praying that this sacrifice will not be in vain.

Come for the rugby, enjoy the onsens

If you’re a sports fan and a fan of Japan’s favourite pastime (visiting hot springs) then you’re in for a treat. 2019 sees Japan hosting the Rugby World Cup for the first time in history. This amazing event will be held over a six-week period with games hosted in regional stadiums across Japan.

Did your team make the cut?

If I had to pick which games to attend based on the location of the stadium I would go with Oita. This prefecture boasts the largest number of naturally occurring hot springs in all of Japan! What better way to relax after an exciting match?

The games kick-off at Oita Stadium on October 2nd with favourites New Zealand playing the Repechage winners (I trust you know who that is). Australia, Wales and Fiji will also play in Oita at different times over the series.

Not too far from Oita, also on the island of Kyushu, you’ll find matches being held in Fukuoka and Kumamoto. With fantastic highways as well as the world’s most efficient train system you could easily spend your entire Rugby World Cup “trip of a lifetime” only in Kyushu, tripping between these three stadiums.

I know you’ll want to get to the main games in Tokyo and the final in Yokohama but those tickets are going to be hard to come by. Plus, Tokyo, meh.

Visit Oita! Visit Kumamoto! Visit Fukuoka! Don’t think of these locations as playing second fiddle to the bigger venues. Visiting one of the lesser known areas of Japan promises an experience that you won’t ever forget. Not many can say they’ve been to Kyushu.

This probably sounds like an advertisement for the rugby but as you’ve probably guessed I don’t know that much about rugby. I am however a fan of hot springs and the beautiful Japanese countryside. If you’re coming to Japan anyway …

Also, a little bird has told us that a new hotel is due to open in the area in 2019. It’s the ANA Intercontinental Beppu Resort. Take a peek!

“With its natural beauty and more than 2,400 natural springs, Beppu has built a reputation throughout Asia as one of Japan’s most renowned onsen destinations” via Hotel Online.

Hinoki barrel bath? Check out this one. Gorgeous.

So are you convinced? Will you come to Japan for the Rugby World Cup in 2019? Will you consider making Oita one of your stops if only to experience this wonder of the world, the onsen? Let us know your rugby plans and which team you are rooting for.

ofuro and kakejiku scroll!

Dear Iacopo,

I just wanted to thank you for the hinoki bathtub we received few months ago, it is truly wonderful and we are enjoying it very much.

Here is a photo of the bathtub in our bedroom.

I look forward meeting you again next time we are in Kobe.

Arigato

T. from France

knotty ofuro and mosaic harmony!



Iacopo, I hope you are well. (*)
Hinoki-furo for M.C. looks amazing! Thank you!(**)
I need a quote please for the following […](***)


This is the brief(*), uplifting(**) and proactive(***) mail I received by my serial client and friend Santiago from San Diego.!!
He is a caring and genial architect and all the credits for the design and detailing go to him.
If you have a design project in the USA (and beyond? ←check with him), I strongly recommend you to contact Santiago ✨

Santiago Ortiz
Principal, Assoc. AIA
ORTIZ MEXIA PROJECTS, INC.
Design Studio
1378 Appleton Way
Venice, CA 90291
Tel. (310) 452-2674
https://archinect.com/santi

Adventures in Phoenix and about

After many years of courting, this year I decided to participate to the ISPA exhibition: the world`s largest and most affirmed show dedicated to the spas industry. Usually it is held in Las Vegas but this year it`s going to happen in Phoenix.


It is a show reserved for the ISPA members and first of all I had to join ISPA as member. Next thing they tell me is that as a vendor I cannot just visit the show: I have either to exhibit with a booth or become a sponsor of the event.
It was just one month before the beginning and I was not going to bring bathtub samples just for 3 days. I explored some alternative options and finally I desided to rent a booth and planned to have a table with some chairs to show photos and samples to interested visitors. To add a Japanese touch to the booth, I obtained a “shimenawa and shide” from a local shirine I know. They gave me the real thing with hemp, the natural fiber material used to tie the rice paper suspended streamers to the rope.
This is used in weddings or ground-breaking ceremonies to create a kind of “sacred zone” where the evil spirits cannot enter. (if you do not know what I am talking about, see below.)
My flight was Osaka-Honolulu-Phoenix. As I had some 120 tablets of wood and few kits of “pocket onsen”, I decided to declare my samples even if they do not have commercial value. I could not imagine they would open all my sutcases and did not remember I had also my blatant wrap of natural hemp (also known as cannabis…!)

Fortunately the custom police did not notice it and I could reach Phoenix with my “spicy” suitcase.

Now, back in august as you may remember, I shared my plans about the Phoenix trip with the Bartok design Community and a woman (whom I never met) offered to have me as a guest in their guest house in Phoenix. They also offered to help me setup the booth (which was a real headache for me at that time) and I accepted the kind invitation.

The following of the story is one of the most amazing and rewarding experience of my 15 years in dealing with ofuros.
you can also read more detail on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/itorrini/posts/10217503173270308 (more…)

An Open Air Bath for Two and a View

If you’ve been to Japan before or even if haven’t but you’re an adventurous type then you’ll be happy to know that Japan is becoming easier and easier to travel around freely. This means that previously inaccessible ryokan are now within reach. With English-language websites, online booking and staff who understand what the international tourist needs, this can only be a good thing! Yes, it’s easier than ever to discover the joy of bathing in an onsen!

Ryokan Syu ha ri

Here’s one we found that is about 3 hours from Tokyo on the Izu Peninsular, Ryokan Syuhari.

With private hinoki baths in every room, it’s well worth the trip. This ryokan has a large outdoor bath which can be booked for private groups as well as spacious in-room baths.

Izu Peninsular

 

Ryokan Syuhari

Ryokan Syuhari (Japanese website)

View on Google Maps (map link)

For bookings, I recommend using a service like Relux to get the best rates and to make sure there are no hidden costs.

Relux is an online booking service for prestigious hotels and ryokans in Japan with high customer satisfaction. 
We offer the best rate guarantee as well as the industry’s highest reward point rate of 5%. 
There are no membership sign up fees or annual dues.

Back to top