Blog

Give the Gift of Pure Nature

Hinoki Esential Oil is both calming and uplifting. Like the scent of a forest on a warm summer day, the scent of Hinoki is earthy, lemony, fresh.

Our original Bartok design Hinoki Essential Oil is the purest you will find. We extract the oil ourselves from off-cuts, shavings and wood chips – all real wood. There are no twigs, leaves or bark in our product resulting in a pure clean scent that is unparalleled. The complexity of our oils is exceptionally deep.

Hinoki Essential Oil
Hinoki Essential Oil made by Bartok design
The Bartok design Pocket Onsen set is a gift box ready for holiday giving

The Bartok design Pocket Onsen Set contains a choice of two oils:

  • Hinoki Cypress is extracted from trees roughly 40 years old. A ‘young tree’ used in construction, for decorative items, religious artefacts and furniture. Our bath accessories are made from this wood which gives us a good supply of offcuts from which to extract the gorgeous essential oil.
  • Special Reserve Hinoki 250 is extracted from mature growth trees, usually at least 250 years old. The wood from older trees is compacted tightly which makes it ideal for use in wet zones such as the bathroom. Therefore we use this wood to make our Japanese ‘ofuro’ soaking tubs. Like a fine wine, cheese or whiskey, the aged product has a complexity and depth not seen in younger wood.

    *It is also possible to order a ‘compare set’ with one of each oil.
Instant onsen
Instant Onsen
special reserve hinoki 250 years oil made in japan
Hinoki Japanese Cypress extracted and bottled by Bartok design
Each Pocket Onsen set comes with three orbs made from hinoki.

September Academy

This is the third time I am going to talk about the project of starting a program to teach traditional construction techniques to japanese and foreign nationals: a “Craftsmen Academy”.

There are some organizational, legal, financial and study curricula issues to be sorted but we are finally planning to get started!
We are going to start with an experimental phase, here are the main conditions:

  • term: September 1 – September 30 (extension is possible)
  • content of the course: mainly wood carpentry techniques
  • fee: free of charge

    Please note:
  • lodging and food: at your own expense
  • transportation costs: at your own expense
  • tourist insurance: at your own expense (compulsory)
  • VISA: not provided by the Academy, at your own expense

We will receive applications up to August 25 so if you are interested please hurry. If you have questions or other requests regarding the schedule etc. please contact me. We have some flexibility and I will try to accommodate your needs.

About the lodging, there are few Airbnb in Kameoka and they are quite expensive. The low-cost alternative would be to stay at a guest house in Kyoto downtown and commute by train (about 30 minutes one way)

It would be great if students find shared accommodations. I will try to connect those interested but cannot take any responsibility for the organization/jury in case of problems etc.

About the legal issues: we are not yet established to be able to sponsor students to obtain working or study VISA. Please come with a 3-month tourist VISA or a working holiday VISA if your Country has an agreement with the Japanese Government. You must make this application yourself and we are unable to assist you with this.

The experience we intend to make available at the Academy is officially an “experience tourism” program so it is not in conflict with your VISA status.

About legal issues, liability issues etc. we are preparing a simple contract of agreement that will regulate our relationship with the students.

The Contract will be kindly compiled by my long time friend and Bartok design fan Frank Lanza who runs a law office in Cairns (Austalia) and is partner in the CCEB center for language studies and technical skills courses.

In due course we also would like to develop Japanese carpentry courses in the Cairns (Australia) with a specialization practical term in Kameoka but this is still at a planning stage.

I will attach the contract draft to this page as soon as available so please stay tuned. I just wanted to start posting the official start of the course as we already entered in August.

please contact me directly by email at japan@bartokdesign.com for applications and questions.

italian wabi-sabi

This post is not about the bio-ryokan “WABI SABI” in the Marche Region (which by the way features a large bartokdesign knotty hinoki bathtub and other japanese architectural details such as tatami/shoji etc. – and which of course(!) I strongly recommend).

I have an American friend living in Switzerland and she is really my secret muse (well, no more secret now…)
I never met her in person but her prose is so experimental, so strong and inspiring that every mail I receive is like being struck by a 10,000 Volts lighting bolt. I am not saying it is painful. Of course it is pleasant, but every other perception is obfuscated by the absolute power of the message.
I do not know exactly her age but I would say he is not in her twenties.
When I thanked her for her insight in the last email she signed herself:

Your co-conspirator (in radical creativity)

Maybe her magic only works on me, I do not know.
But I would like to share some information she gave me about a wonderful reality in Italy that I did not know.

(more…)

kimono bottle covers!

Japanese kimono style bottle cover (fit the vast majority of bottles from wine to champagne to sake! – a part for magnum bottles) smart idea for an unforgettable present.
Witty and original! 100% reusable. To amuse the guests at your home party or to surprise your friends, you will find your favorite color and style within the 30 items collection.
Easy to apply, fun to play with, can be stored to be used again in its exclusive pauwlonia wood box!

coming soon!

The Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage

Introduction

In the Wakayama area of Kii Peninsula, there are a number of ancient walking trails which are collectively known as the Kumano Kodo. Traversing mountains, passing through lushly forested gulleys and crossing racing rivers, you’ll see some of the most spectacular nature Japan has to offer. But enjoying nature is just a side benefit. This area is deeply spiritual and is steeped in history. For more than a thousand years pilgrims have used these trails to reach the three Grand Shrines of Kumano: Kumano Hongū Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha (source wikipedia).

We love being close to nature so took a couple of days off work during rainy season (July 2019) to visit the Kumano Kodo. Here is our account of the trip.

View of mountains in Nakahechi

Day One

My travel companion joined me from Tokyo so my first stop was Kansai Airport to pick her up. From there we got directly onto the ‘Hanwa Highway’ which is the direct route to Wakayama and the Kii Peninsula. It’s an easy drive of about an hour and a half to Nanki Tanabe Interchange which is where we left the highway.

Are you planning to drive in Japan? Here are a few things to remember:

  • the speed limit on the highways is a maximum of 80km per hour but on rainy or windy days it can be reduced to 60km per hour, this is indicated by round electronic signs reading 60 or 80. You might not see many police cars or speed cameras but this highway is patrolled by unmarked vehicles and hidden cameras so for your safety and to avoid a ticket, stick to the limit.
  • along the highway, you will encounter toll booths. If your car is fitted with an ETC machine you can drive through the electronic reader lane, usually purple signage. If you don’t have the machine you’ll need to go through the manual payment lane, indicated by a green light. You can pay using cash or credit card. The amount due will be displayed on a sign next to the toll booth after you hand over your ticket.
  • toilet breaks and snack pitstops are possible at the many ‘rest areas’ which you can enter freely without having to exit the highway. Use these because you’ll save money by staying on the highway until your final destination.

Nakahechicho Area

Nakahechi Trail Kumano Kodo
Tondagawa River

We were booked to stay at a mountainside cottage which we had booked through AirBnB. It was raining heavily on and off all day so after a quick lunch at a local noodle place, we grabbed a few groceries and headed to our accommodation.

The purpose of our trip was not hiking given that it is rainy season. Landslides and flooded rivers are a real possibility at this time of year so rather than hike we simply planned some R&R. Our cottage was just perfect for that and I highly recommend it.

It has a hinoki clad bathroom with a view over the mountains! Gorgeous.

If you are planning to hike the Nakahechi Trail and are starting at Takijiri-oji then this cottage is a great location for that. Link to more info.

(more…)

Kameoka ready for test start

Following all the talks in April and May, we are finally ready to start with the enrollment of students interested in learning the traditional japanese wood construction crafts!!!

We are starting a new renovation project and are ready to enroll students.
Officially we are aiming at July 1st but if you are planning to come to Japan in June, we are basically ready to welcome you anytime.

The students will both the taught the principles of the craft and will also have the possibility of working in the actual construction site.
It will be an experimental phase with the following conditions:

(more…)

update about the Wakayama project

Thank you again for the smart ideas and the kind support about the project of infusing new functions in the Kiwata-house in Wakayama.

Last month I presented the conceptand we are now discussing on how to implement it. Apologizing for the delay in getting back to you, let me summarize the main points.

The first chart exemplifies the structure of the project.
Striking a parallel with the cycles in agriculture:
*rooting = 5 basic ideas I illustrated in the mailing message
*seeding = based on the (biased) opinions of all of you who replied I selected some concepts and lines of intervention
*watering = many of you gave me great indications for the overall branding
*growing = some ideas about the promotion and management
*reaping = goals to be fine-tuned, reached and further developed.

In the PDF (see below) I am also including a selection from the comments I received from all of you.

The second table is a tentative plan of the house with come ideas about functions that can be hosted and their interrelations.
You can download the whole pdf here, inclusive of all your comments.

The concept that stuck me the most are:
ONE DAY IN LIFE:
* the house provides the experience of “just a normal day in prewar Japan”
* second meaning: one day in the life of each visitor. We want to leave a memory that can entangle with and become part of their personal story-roll.

TOTALLY TRADITIONAL – TOTALLY CONTEMPORARY:
* the house is historical and original therefore should not be faked. Any addition or modification should be in harmony but cutting edge.

MUSEUM OUTREACH / COLLABORATION
* we should explore the possibility of operating in connection with a famous museum. This could widen the scope of the project and hopefully make it become a model for other beautiful houses in Japan that could be rescued and preserved.

This is all for now.
We have more meetings coming up this month and I will keep you updated on the solution that the owners chose and about the next steps of the project.

Thank you!!

iacopo


japanese traditional patterns coloring book!

From the beginning of this year I have had the privilege to associate with Jogan Yoshio, kimono designer in Kyoto. I visited his atelier, had the chance to attend some events with him and we are also starting to collaborate on some projects (such as the one in Wakayama) .

He is really the quintessential Japanese artist/craftsman: soft spoken, passionate and humble. His right arm is the charming Hiroyo, with feline eyes riding high heels and sports cars: it feels like she could have just come out from a 007 movie or a Lupin III cartoon. The matching and the positive contrast of different elements is somehow a trademark of Jogan sensei.

He practiced since his childhood in the ateliers and along the water streams of Nishijin, the area where Kimonos are woven, dyed, block-printed, painted and embroidered with the collaborative work of dozens of separate companies. Kyoto is famous for its rigid and at the same time soft structures. Rules are not written but are so strongly encoded in the social behaviors that create a kind of invisible system of relations that puzzle the westerner. The secret is to learn every thing with the body rather than with your rational mind.

Rules are not there to be discussed but can be interpreted. Traditional patterns cannot be modified but of course are filtered through the sensibility and the DNA of each individual artist.
I think you will understand what I mean by watching this video:

check below for more photos and info to purchase the book.

(more…)

new yield of hinoki oil

We made a new production of hinoki oil, both DSB quality (young trees) and SR (special reserve kiso valley old growth hinoki)

I bottled 100 – 10ml. flasks per type, and I am willing to sell the rest in larger bottles at a discounted price.
DA – DA – DA -DADADA DA !
A) 1 bottle 100 cc of young trees oil (plastic bottle, no drip cap) = 12,000 JPY
B) 10 bottles 100 cc (1 liter in total) of young trees oil (package as above) = 80,000 JPY
C) 1 bottle 50 cc of special reserve oil (glass bottle, no drip cap) = 12,000 JPY
D) 10 bottles 50 cc of special reserve oil (glass bottle, no drip cap) = 90,000 JPY

*) packaging and shipping worldwide 1,000 JPY per parcel (air mail – no EMS)
– one parcel can hold up to 300 ml in any combination –

stock is limited so if you are interested please contact me at japan@bartokdesign.com asap!!

(see below for the production photos)

(more…)

Back to top