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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.

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…)

Our newest, our favourites and our classics

I’m excited about the next few months of the year, making a special ofuro for you! Find our newest, our favourites and our classics here.

At Bartok design we like to push the envelope. Our newest design is not our design at all, it’s yours. The ‘kakehashi‘ technology allows us to create the bath of your dreams in any shape you can imagine! View the PDF here.

Our favourites? Well it’s hard to choose because we love them all but the Gyo Pocket Onsen has a special place in our hearts because it makes Japanese-style ofuro bathing so accessible to everyone. Simply add a few drops of our hinoki oil to our handcrafted wooden orbs then toss them into your hot bath water.Bliss!

Our classics? We just love the retro feel of this one: (kadomaru tub)

Kadomaru Retro Tub

Bringing water to the desert

Airport shuttle bus all to myself
A limousine bus to myself!

This weekend I will be at The Hotel Show at the Dubai Trade Center bringing some much-needed ? onsen water to the desert! As I mentioned in my last post I am jumping all in to explore the b2b side of things. Orders have been increasing from hotels, bars, restaurants and spas so I thought I should come to answer all the questions about japanese ofuro in person.

You might know that our area of Japan was hit by a super-typhoon (tropical storm) a couple of weeks ago. So many flights were cancelled after the bridge to the airport was damaged as well as some flooding of the airport. It is happy for me that the shuttle bus was empty and I could enjoy a beautiful sunset as I take off from Osaka, Kansai Airport. The airport is only just resuming flights so I am very lucky.

See you on the other side! Come and say hi if you are at the Hotel Show too.

sunset over Osaka Bay
Sunset over Osaka Bay

pocket onsen ‘GYO’ campaign ending tomorrow!

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I should have written this earlier, but life is busy also in this part of the world…
Tomorrow the indiegogo campaign is closing (the project is founded! thanks everybody!)
If you are considering to purchase a “GYO” for yourself or to give as a present, this is the last chance.

After the campaign is finished, I will add the GYO to the Bartok shop but the price will include a profit margin. I was considering 1.5 times (which is still very reasonable). For instance, the basic set with young trees oil will become 45 USD instead of 30 USD.
On the other hand, the cost does not really take into account the time for packaging, labeling etc. so I might set higher prices.
Also, 2 operators are interested in distributing the pocket onsen (maybe OEM) so I will have to protect their prices. In brief, I am now considering to set retail prices to about 210% of the production costs (which is still very reasonable!)
pocket onsen GYO – young trees → 6,000 JPY including shipping (now 30 USD + shipping)

pocket onsen GYO – special reserve → 9,000 JPY including shipping (now 50 USD + shipping)

pocket onsen GYO –  compare set → 12,000 JPY including shipping (now 65 USD + shipping)

(more…)

tub stained and cleaned up!

Here below is the mail correspondence with a client who purchased a tub in 2014.
He kindly agreed to have it published here as it may be of help to other fellow ofuro owners.
1)
Dear Iacopo,
I hope this note finds you and your family very well.
I look forward to a time of leisure where I can see you again.
In the meantime, due to my laziness at not wiping the tub down and its position next to the shower, it has taken on the less than ideal character shown in these photos.
Is there anything I can do to restore the surface at this point?
Thanks kindest X.
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sawara blossom… – outlet tub – sold out –

sorry, sold out!

IMGP0671There is one characteristic in common among out last three outlet tubs: they are all made with sawara wood.
In this period (of course it is not the season, is more of a market trend) there is a lot of sawara on the market. Some of our suppliers offer nice and cheap lots of sawara. Some other lumberyards in our network decide to put the world “end” to their secular business and get rid (slowly but constantly) of their stock. Again more and more premium sawara wood lining up in our warehouse. (more…)

miracle for two – outlet tub – sold out –

sorry, sold out!

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Sawara is becoming a very popular material also among the japan lover expats community because of its warm cherry like color and reasonable price.

This outlet tub is round (there is a small eccentricity of 10mm) and is suitable for 2 …intimate… people.
The outlet tub is unbranded at the moment and you can indicate if you want us to apply the bartok design iron brand and the preferred location.

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(↑ photo of the back side: note the end of the metal straps is hooked into the wood. This is the same traditional detail as the kadomaru tubs.)

Here are the specs:
dimensions: Dia 900mm (+/- 5mm) x H740mm (external dimensions) 630mm(depth)
material: knotless natural Sawara wood
drawing: outlet180215-sketch


quotation:
1) AB grade tub (quatersawn) : 295,000. JPY
2) Packaging: 110x110x94cm plywood box: 36,000. JPY
3) transportation: to be quoted (please let us know your exact address: we will provide a quotation before you purchase the tub)

Please contact us at japan *at* bartokdesign.com with any question you may have + indication of your address.

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waiting for the spring…

This year we are experiencing a cold and long winter with meters of snow on the traditionally snowy west coast.
Even the major cities such as Tokyo or Kyoto were coated in white several times.

But spring will come.
In the TV news they started to show the first sakura buds from Okinawa, to reassure the people sensitive to cold (like me…) that indeed spring will come sometime soon!
While waiting for the spring, I recommend the 3 following actions:

1) warm up in hot water! If you have an ofuro, you know what I am talking about.

2) enjoy the last spurt of winter lethargy on the SU~ day bed!
You can check the video on how it is built here:

or just jump to the indiegogo page to order one while the 25% OFF conditions last -> https://igg.me/at/SU-DAY-BED

3) prepare for a fresh start with new fragrant hinoki business cards!
more information at -> https://mokumei.com/
mokumei-home

With the 3 tips above, I am sure you will be able to cut thru the last icicles and fully enjoy the coming spring!
In any case, if you still feel cold or cannot sleep because of a creative idea, or a craving for a bowl of miso soup, please write me!
I am looking forward to do something together!

All the Best//
iacopo torrini

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