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Getting ready for the next production of special reserve oil

IMGP8549

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

Survey for new product: YUKATA ROBES

For 13 years, almost weekly I have been posed the following question:
“do you also carry yukata robes?” (The type of casual kimono you use while in your room in the ryokan or after taking a plunge in a onsen).

In a world regurgitating with products…, I just though it was best for me to concentrate on one I was able to fully design and develop: custom made japanese ofuro.
I was honored to have been recognized and trusted by thousands as an ambassador of the japanese style bathing and I was comfortable in my niche.

But things are going to change.

While living in Japan, I have a privileged communication channel with a wide community of japan-lovers around the globe: this circumstance is not only bless but also a responsibility.

I feel more and more like I have a moral obligation to exit my comfort zone and provide more value to all of you who are trying to graft a slice of japan into your lives.
For this reason, I decided to start a new product line: wear.

Of course the first product of the list will be the long awaited yukata robes.
And I will need your help.
To provide the type of yukata you are looking for, I will need your opinion: the selection I will propose will be based on the survey below.
I will be grateful if you will share with me your thoughts!
It is a simple google survey consisting of 3 main and 3 sub-questions and takes from 30 to 60 seconds to complete.
The survey is anonymous but I will extract 3 of you and present a brand new yukata! (I will contact the winners thru the mailing list using their nicknames)

Please refer to the photos below the survey box. Thank you in advance for your time and precious advice!
NOTE: Feel free to repeat the survey to record the opinionof your family members as well!


(please fill in the survey in the box above)


Question a: which type of wear you may be interested in?

(indicate the level of interest for each option)

yukata bathrobe

No.01 tatekan

matsuri yukata

yukata matsuri

jinbei

jinbei

formal kimono

formal kimono


Question b: in case of yukata, which design do you like?

#01 Tatekan

No.01 tatekan

#02 kusari

No.02 kusari

#03 Yoshiwara

03-daiwa-yoshiwara

#04 Renga

04-renga

#05 Take

05-takegara

#06 Shippou

06-shippou

#07 Matsubishi

08-matsubishi

#08 Genjikou

11-genjikou

#09 Fuchidori Ogi

13huchidoriougi

#10 Orizuru

15-oriduru

#11 Hanakasumi

16-hanakasumi

#12 Matsuba Koma

19-matsuba-koma


Question c: Where do you prefer the bartokdesign brand logo?

on the chest

near the feet

Question d: which material/color you like for the obi belt?

Red/plain

Navy/plain

Yellow/knitted

Green/knitted

Brown/knitted

Stripes


(please fill in the survey in the box above)


sorry for the TYPO…

Dear subscribers to the Bartokdesign mailing list,

Sorry for the typo in the mail I sent you few hours ago.
Although I am using an automated system, I personally write the text to 1050 subscribers.
Receiving a personal mail … addressed to “Dear {!firstname_fix},” must have been a terrible experience.
I deeply apologize and hope you give me one more chance.

Yours sincerely,

Bartok design Japan Co.
Manager: Iacopo Torrini
—————————-
e-mail: japan@bartokdesign.com
tel: +81-78-262-6811
fax: +81-78-262-7151
cell.: +81-90-8205-1200
—————————-

Echizen lacquerware

Production area:

Sabae is a small city on the korean sea within the Fukui prefecture.
Amazing enough, the majority of the eyeglasses frames made in Japan is produced in this 60,000 people town.
Very roughly, if you look at a map of Japan you will see that Sabae is located north of the Biwako lake, almost in between Kyoto and Kanazawa (also known as small Kyoto.)

sabae

History:

I am not sure if this is the reason why Sabae is also one of the capitals of japanese Urushi Lacquerware, but the historic archives prove that in the 6th century emperor Keitai appointed skilled craftsmen from Sabae to repair broken crowns of the imperial family.
The craftsmen did a perfect job and presented a simple black lacquer bowl to the emperor.
The emperor was surprised at the sturdiness and beauty of the craft and adopted the Sabae craftsmen as the official supplier of the court. Since then the crafts produced in this area are known as Echizen Lacquer ware.
Sabae constantly developed the technique to bloom in the edo era with the Maki-e (Gold Lacquer) as the most famous Japanese laquerware production area.

urushi-tray

Shikki from Misako:

My friend Misako, originary from Sabae is a “lacquerware coordinator”. She selects shapes and the most suitable craftsman to produce the tableware and created a collection of all time classics for Bartok design.
Lacquerware is sturdy and lightweight. It is in-frangible and long lasting.
But there is one problem you should be aware of:
YES, items made of solid wood, carved on a spinning table are authentic and highly priced.
On the other hand, if brought to other countries which do not have the same high relative humidity peculiar of the japanese islands… the solid wood tableware is prone to crack, thus spoiling the invincible and immaculate lacquer coating. (sigh!)

Quality:

Do not make that face! Misako has a solution for us. The items she picked up are made with a base of wood paste (glue and wood chips) molded to obtain the required shape.

This bases are stable and cheaper than the solid items.
The bases are then hand painted with the best lacquer, without compromises.
To summarize: the SHIKKI (= lacquerware) items consist in two main handcrafts:
1) wood carving
2) lacquer layering

The items we are proposing have the following specifications:
1) molded base (no hand carving)
2) best quality lacquer layering

The Misako collection provides the best cost performance and an amazing flexibility.
Her items are smooth and gorgeous while being lightweight and durable.

Shapes, sizes and order made items:

She can make the items you are looking for in small series or single items: feel free to mail us at japan@bartokdesign.com

Lacquerware is great for a gift, is very practical (many items are dishwasher safe) and could be an amazing atmosphere maker for restaurants, parties and events. Of course it is perfect not just for japanese food: the top of the sophistication is to serve a shrimp salad or a swordfish carpaccio in a stunning japanese tableware.

Find our the standard items in the shop section and do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something different!

Best regards and … Bon apetit (itadakimasu!)

Find our the standard items in the shop section and do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something different!

Accounting for “save & relocate japanese homes” activity

As promised, here below is the balance sheet for the activity of relocating japanese historic homes.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/191R52WReEc7nonFc3QVEQIuDnEvK64ipfQ4XMKdO9G8/edit?usp=sharing

I did not make the final decision but I think the new activity will be called Japanese Historic Homes and will have a dedicated homepage.

I was (wisely!) advised that if I want to produce concrete results, I should appeal to those interested in owning a japanese home rather than just hoping to find philanthropists with deep pockets and the mission of preserving for posterity as many buildings and environments of value as possible…

“I love your idea of establishing a network to try and preserve more heritage buildings. As far as naming goes I would shy away from “save-japan.org” as this sounds like it could be connected to Fukushima or some other existing cause.
I personally think you need to appeal to those folks who wish to OWN a heritage Japanese home rather than those that wish to SAVE a heritage home, as the former has the means (money) to buy.
Something like Japan-Historic-Homes.org may work. This may facilitate easy web searches. “Heritage” is arguably a more correct word to use but I think some folks may get this confused with modern homes which have a “Heritage style”. “Historic” (or
“Historical”) does sound a bit dry and perhaps over-important, but everyone who looks at the site name will conclude that you mean old, beautiful homes of significance. Anyway, this is just a first effort. I would be very happy to help you further in any way I can.”

So please be in touch and let me know your opinion as well!

All the Best//

iacopo

demolition work almost completed for the fujisawa teahouse

We are sad to see it go but are looking forward to seeing it rebuilt in full glory in Chiba prefecture next year.
It is a big shock for the building but imagine it is like a life saving surgery.
It is painful but all dismantling work was done gently to preserve all the parts.
I cannot imagine this jewel left prey of the bulldozers…

Please find the full photo reportage here:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.987206494691338.1073741833.168006413278021&type=3

ugly website

Let me publish here the exchange of correspondence I had with a previous customer.
The mail came like a bolt from the blue:

Customer:
> hi
> how is it possible that you sell such expensive high quality baths and
> live in a high tech environment…but your website is so unpractical and
> ugly?
> it stops me from really searching, thats not good pr!
> greetz
> (signature)
> fan of wooden baths
> owner of one.


Dear (customer),

Thank you for your honest comment.
I think you are 100% right.
Actually I am in the process of renovating the HP but it is taking more
time than anticipated.

Please bear with us one more month!

Best//

Bartok design Japan Co.
Manager: Iacopo Torrini
—————————-
e-mail: japan@bartokdesign.com
tel: +81-78-262-6811
fax: +81-78-262-7151
cell.: +81-90-8205-1200
—————————-


ok, accepted!

Sorry for the direct comment, I am Dutch and people from Holland are known for their directness. The difference with southern countries is already big, so you can imagine how it is in Japan

I will visit Japan within 1-2 years, I am interested in japanese woodworkingskills.
Is your business to be visited? Would be nice.

I will be mainly in Nasu (Tochigi) but who knows…
When my current bath will be rotten I defenitely want another ofuro, because it ads a lot of well beinig to my life, using such a bath.

greetings

(signature)


Well I must apologize with all of you as well for the old and non-smartphone optimized HP but, as I said above, YES! the site is under renovation.
It will come also with enhanced web-shop functions and I plan to offer you a heftier slice of Japan, including “karakami” ricepaper, “urushi” lacquer and more!
O tanoshimi-ni ~~

Meanwhile please feel free to send me your bolts… Any comment is appreciated especially if it is helping me improving the service.

All the Best//

iacopo torrini

great news about the tea-house!

Sorry for the belated update: I think many of you are in trepidation for the destiny of the tea house in Fujisawa.

Well, 1/27 was an incredible day, I think there are all the ingredients for a suspense movie.
The crowdfunding campaign I started on 1/23 at http://igg.me/at/teahouse produced many contacts.

On 1/27 I went to Tokyo with a 10,000 mhA spare battery plugged in my phone and kept sending mails and calls for help.
I was messaging previous clients while riding the shinkansen and calling ikebana associations or busy stock brokers while waiting to transfer to the next train.
I called dozens of people and sent hundreds of emails.

Nonetheless I arrived to the meeting on site with empty hands.
Two people from the forwarding company were already there discussing details about the street width with the contractor.
The real estate agent was preparing the documents and memorandums to be signed while I was answering the cheerful and excited questions of the owners.
Where is the building going? When is it going to be rebuilt? Can we go visit?
I even got the promise from the old owner she would visit the new location of the house and offer a tea ceremony to all the presents…

But there was only one problem.
Time was up and I had not a clear commitment for taking over the house.
I did not give up until the last moment but after inflating everybody`s hopes, I was going to hurt them even more with the harsh reality, sooner or later.
My face was smiling but there was a deep cloud of uncertainty in my heart.
I received many mails of encouragement:
“Even if you failed this time, the effort and financial exposure would not had been a vain effort. This case contributed to raise awareness about the problem and spread the seeds of more consideration for the items of value we are inheriting from the past.”

I know, you will think I am reckless but there is only one thing that helped me not to panic: Using the “reverse gear” was just not an option on the table.
Like those simple remote controlled car toys that can only go straight or turn left and right to avoid obstacles the only option I had was to keep looking forward for the end of the tunnel.

We started to move out the left over furniture to the living room of a relative living next door while the carpenter started to remove some planks from the ceiling to see if it could be dismantled safely. Some old newspapers started to come out from under the tatamis.

And yes! the sunshine come at 16:00. I received a call from Hamish Murphy, an australian gentlemen, introduced to me by Mr. D. from Tokyo who had been introduced to me by Mr. L. from the UK.
Hamish has been living in Japan for 29 years (if I remember correctly) and is going to start a Permaculture site in Kamogawa, Chiba prefecture.
If you do not know what permaculture is, I recommend to research it on wikipedia. It is is a beautiful concept and practical philosophy.

As I was in Yokohama only for that day, Hamish decided to come right away to see the house and reached at around 18:00.
All the workers already went away and after showing him the house, we sat in the smallest tea-room with the owner and her son.
The owner offered us a matcha-tea – by coincidence there were also just 2 manju dumplings left from the afternoon.
It was such an emotionally intense atmosphere, looking at the garden in the dark out of the window and the old lady noted that this was “the last tea served in the tea-room.”

Then, after 3 days of thorough consideration, Hamish gave me the GO sign to take my place in the contract and carry on the demolition and reconstruction project!
I am SOOO happy for him, for the house, for the owner. AMAZING.

A sukiya-zukuri house is a traditional construction but is light weight and more energy efficient compared to a massive “kominka”.
Permaculture gives importance to ecological materials as much as the energy efficiency and this tea house represent a good balance of the two aspects (ecology and high performance).
Hamish is considering to use the tea-house as a guest house in the Permaculture project. “As a guest house it would be a beautiful gateway into a world of recycling and self-sustaining systems.” he says.
He is considering rebuilding the walls with natural clay mixed with momigara (grain chaffs), restoring not only the shape but also the authentic soul of the building.

Since the plan of the house will be modified, he is not going to reuse the roof tiles but the great news is that he is going to transplant as many trees as possible to Chiba prefecture!
All the stones and accessories in the garden and even the bamboo fence (!) are going to be transferred and reused as well.

In the end I think this solution will be great also for the owner. She will be able to visit the house easily and maybe also help with the design of the garden that she is so skilled at.
And I am looking forward to the “first tea served in the tea-room” after the reconstruction!

The house will be probably rebuilt in 2017 and I will keep you informed.
Meanwhile, visit the links below for additional pictures.
http://igg.me/at/teahouse
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.975630152515639.1073741832.168006413278021&type=3

Thank you everybody for your great support, encouragement and advice.

Feel free to add your comments here below. All the Best!

6 hours (and a miracle) can save the Fujisawa tea-house

It is now 5:56 am in japan and I am giving up the campaign to save (and enjoy!) the sukiya-zukuri tea house in Fujisawa.

In 3 days of indiegogo campaign I received: 2 Contributions, 498 Visits, 135 Referrals.

http://igg.me/at/teahouse
I know that many of you sent hundreds of mails to spread the voice, and I commend you for all your advice and help.
I converted to cash my life insurance policy to have the funds to sign the contract tomorrow but the there is not a solid option to bring the project to completion.

The house will not be touched until 2/10 but we will not have time to organize the meetings required and to meet the deadline offered by the new ownership.
They may accept a lump sum to buy some time but of course there is no guarantee they would consider such an option alltogether.
Besided, if I could not realize the project with so many interested and proactive prospects (like this time), it is not likely that 13 days will change the final result.

Time is running out and I have to take the hard decision.
There is no point to bring all the parties to the meeting tomorrow so I will call everybody (the contractor, the new owner, the old owner, the shipping company) at 12:00 JST.

Said this, my mind is repeating an italian saying: “la speranza e` l`ultima a morire”
(lit. translation: hope is the last to die)

If you have one more idea, one more contact to propose this project, please do it now.
The short link to the campaign is:

http://igg.me/at/teahouse

Thank you for everything!

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