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kazoku-buro

I have some american friends who spent their honey moon in japan.
They both love ofuros but had to enjoy the hot water separately.
If you go to an onsen-ryokan, you may have a bathtub in your room also.
But the “real thing” is of course the “dai-yoku-jo” (large bath area) which is separated by sex. Here you can enjoy different temperatures of water, ishiburo (stone-bath) rotenburo (outdoor bath) goemon-buro (wood fired metal bathtub) and all the optionals including waterfalls, softly lit stone lanterns and spectacular foliage.

So my friends were separating, going to their bath area and feeling guilty to indulge longer in the hot water… You do not want to have your newlywed partner say “did you came here to spend time with me or to enjoy the thermal water by yourself?”

Please keep your ears open: there is a trick if you want to love the onsen as much (or almost as much…) as the company of your partner: you can look for a “kazoku-buro”.

Many ryokan offer family bathtubs that can be used for a limited time by your party exclusively.
Some require an extra fee, some others do not. In this case they are usually crowded and you have to reserve well in advance or wait.

Here below are some photos from the hotel “kami-no-yu” (god of hot water) in Yamanashi prefecture. The address is 17, Ryuji, Kai city. telephone: 0551-28-5000.

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This one is suitable for a large family!! But do not forget to read the notice before entering…
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The ofuro is inside but you can enjoy the landscaped garden from the window!

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I cannot here list all ryokans that offer a “kashikiri-kazokuburo” anyway I will share some other reviews in the near future.
Meanwhile, if you are going to japan and want to try this experience, please let me know: I will be glad to look for a suitable ryokan for you.
If you want to do it by yourself, try to access googlemap with the tags selected by clicking the link below:
https://www.google.co.jp/maps/search/%E8%B2%B8%E5%88%87%E5%AE%B6%E6%97%8F%E9%A2%A8%E5%91%82+%E6%B8%A9%E6%B3%89/@35.7192132,134.0200653,5z/data=!3m1!4b1
Then, zoom on the location you choose.
The onsen will be twice as enjoyable if you can share it together with your other half!

half-kamachi outlet tub

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Asnaro is very aromatic and its “forest scent” perfectly matches the spring-time atmosphere.
We had just the right lot so we decided to make a new outlet tub.
This tub is not only new, it has a new design – and I am sure it will become a classic!
It did not happen on the design table, it was just when we were picking up the material to laminate the sides we noticed we were just a little short. Of course we could re-assort the planks to compose a different size but playing with the lumber that was there we had an inspiration.

I am almost sure that the asnaro aroma kind of made this idea sprung from Nobuhiro`s mind.

He said: why don`t we apply a kamachi (top frame border) only on the short sides?
This makes the corners flush when you look at it from the top, additionally it makes it easy to lift the tub (like a handle) from the head and feet side.

From now on, I will call it “half-kamachi detail” until I come up with a better term.

This springy, fresh design outlet tub is made with straight grain asnaro-hiba.
Details as here below:
L1150mm x W750mm x H675mm (external dimensions) 580mm(depth) knotless natural Asnaro wood bathtub.

1) AB grade tub (quatersawn) : 410,000. JPY
2) Packaging: 135x95x88cm 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 check the drawing here for the detailed dimensions: outlet170421

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This tub does not have a “back side”. It has the copper apron on both sides so we can apply the iron brand on whichever side – if you want. About the short side, you can see what I was meaning by saying that the “half-kamachi” can be used as a handle to grab and lift the tub.

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The immaculate interior of the tub!

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And this is the “half -kamachi” seen from the top. It makes the forner look flush (L-shaped)

If you like this tub, I recommend to contact us soon. I am sure it will not last!

ofuro for a doctor

We received the information request in january and the confirmation one week later.
When we sent the pictures of the completed tub, the client was in Africa as she works as a doctor!
I am so honored to have among my customers people who are so soft spoken yet dynamic, positive thinking and caring! I hope that this ofuro will help her to heal the scars and refill the batteries to successfully tackle everyday challenge!

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asnaro tub for NY

The tub was ordered thru an architect in NY. It is going to be installed in a niche with 25mm clearance on 3 sides. The wall is finished with hand made tiles… I am dying to see the photos of the installation once completed!
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Click more to see additional pictures and the specs of the ofuro.
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round tub for switzerland

Also in this case, the client contacted us in july and confirmed the order in november.
If you pardon me the obviousness, july is a hot season… for hot tubs!

It is a very poetic, very clean round tub. We often use sawara wood for barrel construction ofuro but the client was sure about choosing hinoki!

IMGP9459Click on more to see more pictures and updates (->about the the round cover)
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ofuro for architect in CA

We received the first “information request” in july and immediately replied with a quotation and tub drawings. Then, the client contacted us again in november and we had a tight back and forth mail exchange about the floor slope and how the tub bottom and spout should cope with it.
Then the order was confirmed in december and we completed and shipped the ofuro in january.
The ofuro was punctually received, they opened it for the roughing of the plumbing and repacked it (for 2 months if I understand) until the bathroom construction is complete.

Needless to say that the client is an architect. Very precise, very professional and the plan well structured.
I always recommend to use an architect to streamline your design and the construction process!
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Click on (more…) here below to see the more details and the photos of the accessories.
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survey for new product: aroma cards

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Please let me know your opinion about the product currently under development: the “hinoki aroma cards”.

I am interested in hearing which message would be meaningful for you.
If it is a great one, you will be able to choose it once the product is developed in february 2017!

Please particiapate to the survey below.
It is easy!

Last thatched roof in Tokyo is endangered.

A friend running a real estate agency in Kobe informed me of another beautiful & sad story.
The “grievous finale” is incumbent but is still avoidable and I am now starting to dream about how I can rewrite the epilogue of the story and conclude with a happy end instead!

Anyway, let me explain. A friend showed me the blog of a volunteer association (the “Nakano Building Support Committee”) supported by 50 local residents who are devoted in collecting and diffusing information about historical buildings in Tokyo`s Nakano district and organize community events.
http://nakanotatemono.blog.fc2.com/
Nakano district is one of the 23 cities forming the Tokyo metropolitan area and is located west of one of the busiest high-rise office district in the world: the Shinjuku area.

Well, the volunteer association is very lively and recently held their annual “persimmon pickup and drying event” (maybe there is a better way to translate it…?!) at the “Hosoda house.”
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A) Features
Well, this is the “beautiful” part of the story.

The Hosoda house remains intact like an oasis in a neighborhood once rural and now inexorably covered in asphalt and concrete.
I cannot judge which is more noteworthy: if the vast garden boosting a great variety of indigenous trees / or the house: a 160 year old japanese traditional “minka” farmhouse, the last surviving thatched roof in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
The straw roof has been temporarily covered with a metal roofing but if properly restored it would show in its full glory.

Hosoda house is strikingly important for many reasons: its architectural details, its unique atmosphere and especially the fact of being the last one! Hosoda house is not only an example of an endangered species: it is the last example… The city around transformed into a neoplasm of asphalt and asbestos but the Hosoda house is here to witness that there is another way of living and it may inspire future generations to rethink the image of the city.

Hosoda house is not only last thatched roof in Tokyo (and I believe one of the few private gardens with so many variety of species) but is a presence of hope, showing an alternative to our inhumane cities.

If the Hosoda estate is destroyed also its function as a “light tower of hope” and “example” will be interrupted.

(Here below a picture of a traditional cultural event held on the premises)

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B) Threats

We see here one of the many contradictions of the japanese society: this unique gem is not protected and actually it is severely threatened by multiple small-minded circumstances.

1) The municipality is planning to expropriate it and demolish for the construction of a road. The road plan was enacted in 1966, but, as happens for many similar “pork barrel” public spending projects, remained dormant for several decades. The city obtained approval from the national government for the road construction in 2015 and plan to have the project completed by 2020. It is useless to say that priorities and needs have changed in this 40 years and this sacrifice would not only be harsh but also meaningless.

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2) Hosoda house is owned by a descendant of the Hosoda family but he is not living on site.
The house itself does not have any real estate value (like any building 25+ year old in Japan) but the land is very large (1000 tsubo = about 3300 m2) and based on land prices in this area, the property could be worth anywhere from 1.5 ~ 2 billion Yen or more (approx. 13.3 ~ 17.7 million USD).
It is already a miracle that the owner is holding firm and is not allured by the lump of money he would make by selling this rare gem to the next ruthless developer.
But this situation cannot last forever. Inheritance tax is very expensive in Japan and most people inheriting this type of precious estates are cursed with the destiny of having to sell it to be able to pay the succession tax.

3) Another secondary but significant threat is the “asphaltification” of the common sense of the society. It is becoming more and more rare to find deciduous trees in japanese cities and people are just not used to it anymore! Neighbors complain when they see some fallen leaves on the sidewalk. Yes, they complain…!
The owner has to heavily prune the trees to avoid diplomatic accidents but this is not only a mutilation for the centennial plants but is very expensive (since the trees are very large they need to use a crane).
It is a trying situation and I would not be surprised if the owner would decide one day to just get rid of everything.

Well, maybe I have 3 years, maybe less but I am sure that everyday spent in passive contemplation is just going to bring the deplorable end closer.

Between the end of year and the beginning of 2017 I intend to take the following actions:

1) individuate the public agencies involved and understand exactly the progress in the approval process. Then, find some weak points and possible ways of opposing the project.

2) try to reach Mr. Hosoda and verify directly his plans for the future. Set the bases for a safe alienation of the property (ex. creating a foundation an collecting donations as needed to purchase the property)

3) network with the “Nakano Building Support Committee” and identify some individual who are critical about the trees. Then try to talk with them and evaluate a reasonable compromise. Sometimes just one voice against can be contagious. And people “against” are often just looking for attention or a channel to relieve their stress…

This is all for now.
I will keep you updated and will ask for your advice and support once I have a clear target.

Feel free to comment here below.

testimonial from Sidney

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Hi Iacopo,
Bathtub cleared customs and quarantine last Thursday and we have been loving the bath ever since. It’s gorgeous :)
We just love it and the whole family uses it including my very tall partner !!
It’s beautifully made and makes our bathroom look fantastic.
Thankyou for your hardwork and craftsmanship it will be appreciated by our family for a VERY long time.
Of course you can publish my email in your testimonial corner :)
apologies for the photo we are still renovating our bathroom and are in the process of replacing the toilet and the sink ! but the bath still makes our bathroom look good…lol
thanks again,

L.

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