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pocket onsen with special offer

We are ready for shipping and have a special offer.
The price of the pocket onsen purchased outside of the crowd funding campaign is 7,000 JPY for N. america and Oceania, 7.300 JPY for Europe etc.

But, as a special Christmas present, I am slipping in the wooden box for free.

hinoki oil set

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The offer is valid until 12/31/2014 and is limited to 3 units per person.
You can order your Pocket Onsen with complimentary box here:
http://www.bartokdesign.com/japan/28-aroma_oil/pocket_onsen_with_special_rese.php

on schedule with the aroma oil!

We just completed the production of the “special reserve” hinoki aroma oil.
I limited the production compared to the first plan but the yield was very good and we have 300 10cc bottles ready for shipping to all of you who kindly participated to the “pocket onsen” campaign.

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Next week I should be able to complete the shipping. I am looking forward to hearing your comments!

complimentary hygrometer

A client reported a (superficial) crack to an asnaro tub we shipped earlier this year.
The ofuro was made with well dried ao-hiba and something like this does not happen unless the wood is really very dehydrated.
We asked the client to check the relative humidity in the room and report to us (3 readings at morning – noon – evening)
Before thinking of a way to repair the crack, we should quickly isolate and eliminate the problem otherwise the tub may suffer more damage.

  1. Is there a heater or radiant floor in the bathroom? If yes, it should be kept off while the tub is empty.
  2. Is there central air conditioning? Often these systems have dehumidifiers in line. Again, the AC should not be used in the bath area while the tub is empty.
  3. Is the ofuro seldom used? (should be used 2, 3 or more times a week!)
  4. Keeping some water inside may preserve the tub for periods when it is not used. Anyway, it is important to either fill the tub to the top, or keep few inches of water and a cover on the tub so that the humidity can reach also the area close to the edge.
  5. If the tub is left unused for extended periods and the AC/heating is very powerful, the option of keeping some water inside and a cover on top may not be sufficient as the dry environment would attack the outside of the tub. In this case I recommend to wrap the tub also on the outside (as much as possible) in a similarly to the way it was delivered.

Wishing that this would never happen again, from now on, we will include with our bathtubs a complimentary hygrometer.
We recommend to keep it in the bathroom and be sure that the humidity is above 55-60%. If the environment is very dry, and the tub is seldom used there is the chance that the wood may crack.

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lamination of planks

There is often a misunderstanding about what japanese call “hagi-zai” (laminated material)

The english term “laminated wood” includes rotary cut veneer lamination (plywood) and square rods finger joined (glulam).
We have the image of the laminated wood as an engineered material, sturdy but unequivocally man-made and thus not natural.

On the other hand hagi-zai involves joining wide planks side by side with the aid of full penetration dowels. We try to match the vein and if the situation allows it, the joint is almost invisible. (in case of a tub we have to give priority to balancing the warping and thus it is almost inpossible to make an invisible joint in this case)

The lumber is equalized with rotary saw and electric planer

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Here is the solid lumber with thru holes ready for joining.

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Glue is applied inside the holes

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Long dowels are hammered inside to connect all the planks together

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Here is the finished “hagi-zai”. At this point it is straightened and prepared for the “shiguchi” = wood joints. (To create a box we use mostly dove tail joints.) Finally the panel are assembled to create the tub and hand planed.

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the cheap yen may bring an ofuro to your home…

The autumn brought a weak yen both against the dollar and the euro.
This means it is a good timing to purchase japanese goods, especially when they are priced in yen.
This post is not to push the back of our readers and convince them to buy an ofuro.
In particular now, it is a very busy period and we have a 45-60 days lead time for the production.

The reason for this post is that I know that japanese hinoki tubs are expensive, and remain a dream for many. Well, this may be an opportunity to bring home a japanese product with 15% discount compared to 2 months ago: so if you are considering buying and ofuro, I friendly recommend you to do it now.

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I am not a financial analyst, but considering that countries like China and Russia are dumping federal bonds, and the saudis do not seem so clung to the petrodollar anymore, I feel that the strength of the dollar may be a flash in the pan…

I welcome all your questions and comments.

All the Best//

iacopo torrini

58 thousand arigatou!

Our indiegogo campaign just ended.
Thanks your help and efforts, the pocket-onsen was shared on facebook 419 times and retweeted 44 times. It was featured on the Gadget flow, Rocketnews and several local newspapers.
The financial result was a collection of 2,472 US$ (about 8% of the target 30,000 US$)
Anyway, I am developing the product and will deliver the kits around dec. 15.
(If somebody is interested in a “pocket-onsen” as an original Christmas present, it is available for purchase in the shop section of this site.)

What has been really amazing about this campaign is the amount of insight, passionate advice that you gave me. Starting with the naming, the content of the kit, the graphics, the packaging! The pocket-onsen was really “crowd nurtured” and this has been a mind sizzling experience. I am really grateful for it.


140828-new-product-opinion poll – survey page


140828-new-product-opinion poll results page


140831-indiegogo-cover page opinion poll – survey page


140831-indiegogo-cover page opinion poll results page


140907-hinoki-oil-lebels – survey page


140907-hinoki-oil-lebels – results page

I am now in contact with some hotels and hotel chains who are interested in selling it in the spa gift shop or offering it as a novelty in their higher rank rooms. There are several ryokan style hotels and japanese themed hot springs around the world and if you have some connection I would appreciate if you can spread the word about the pocket-onsen.

I am looking forward to the developments of the relation we are building together.
I am always available for chatting about new ideas and projects, please contact me by email at japan@bartokdesign.com

All the Best//

iacopo torrini


Please take a look here for the campaign page: http://www.igg.me/at/pocket-onsen

a little more patience…

Update a bout the indiegogo campaign: I am brushing up the details and plan to open the doors between 18:00 and 20:00 Japan time.
Keep an eye on this post if you do not want to miss the early bird special package!

UPDATE OF 19:55: Well, we are almost there but still need few minutes.
I will send the link to the Indiegogo campaign to our mailing list @ 20:30 and will post it to this blog @ 21:00 JST.

See you in one hour!

UPDATE OF 21:00:
Sorry for the wait, our indiegogo campaign just started!
http://www.igg.me/at/pocket-onsen

Please follow the link above to know more about our new 250 years old “special reserve hinoki aroma oil” and the “pocket onsen” kit to enjoy the japanese bath experience from your home.

As usual, I am eager to hear your feedback, so please let me know your opinion by email or thru the comments section of Indiegogo.

I appreciate all your effort to spread the word about the campaign!
All the Best//

iacopo


Watch the video:

This explains how the oil is made:

see you in Paris!

It is official: our indiegogo campaign will kick off on 9/3 and will close on 9/26 (lasting 24 days.)
The product is still mysterious (a part for the 1200 of you in the mailing list)

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The additional news is that I will go to Paris on 9/10 and participate to the commercial fair “spa meeting”.
I hope I will have the opportunity to promote the campaign.

Anybody in Paris on sep 10? I`d love to meet you: free to send me an email at japan@bartokdesign.com
I think I will wear a yukata, so you can`t miss me.

Please stay tuned!

results of survey on new (mysterious) product

on 8/28, I lauched a survey among all of you who purchased hinoki products or got in contact with me in the past 10 years.

I was frantic and wary about how to start and target the Indiegogo campaign starting on 9/3(and the product is still a secret for many…!)

The results of the survey were mind-blowing.Many of you kindly answered, shared your common-sense, wisdom, insight.I received so much encouragement and many gold nuggets which no doubt will decide the destiny of the campaign.

The main doubts on the packaging, number of items and price target produced split results, but it really gave me the guidelines to define the details of the campaign.

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But the real mine of gold is in the free comments that you generously and passionately shared with me. The results database will be shared by email to all participants.

For the curious (who did not participate in the survey), here are some comments:

1) Difficult to answer the last question since I haven’t had the chance to try the instant onsen experience!

2) I think it’s great idea. Also beautiful colorful pouches! T.

3) It’s a lovely idea, your problem may be how to differentiate from competitors (it’s an easy concept to copy). As a name, instant Ofuro is obviously more correct but instant Onsen is more appealing. Pricing is difficult and depends on the market. I live in Singapore and mix with other expats. I used to live in Tokyo as an expat and we were always looking for gifts to give people back home, this would have been a nice souvenir too. As a gift especially for someone special, if the fabrics of the bags and workmanship are of high quality I would probably pay more. Also where the bags are made could have an influence on the price. E.g. If they were made by a community that is trying to recover from the tsunami then I would find that ‘added value’ and again pay more. I presume the hinoki balls will be made by yourselves? For me it is important that the workmanship is ‘Made in Japan’ not China etc! Good luck!

4) “I enjoy using our hinoki bucket and ladle set.
Perhaps with the hinoki balls you would need to offer another product, that being a small bottle of hinoki oil to reinfuse balls after a period of use…
This is a novel and pretty gift idea. I could imagine using them in a Japanese theme Pot Pouri (I am from Victoria, Australia)”
See more comments here below:

5) great idea :)

6) “I think the pricing and naming depends on your target market.
If it is for people outside Japan, then with postage, they are going to be expensive.
Good luck!”

7) It seems to be done with good quality products. I don’t know anything about costs of the item, but looks like a nice Christmas japanese flavoured present. Price? 50 – 60 €?

8) “I’m not sure I understand what the kit will be but here are a few thoughts:
If you want people to put 3 balls into a tub, it is too few. 8 is a lucky number in China (and perhaps other cultures). That to me would seem like a minimum.
The only pouch with a contrasting string is the 2nd. I think it makes it stand out from the other 3. Perhaps you should use a contrasting string for all the pouches.
The word “”instant”” is not very elegant or “”luxury””. My impression of instant is “”instant coffee”” which is tastes terrible. I never drink instant coffee.
You need a more luxurious term or one that simply makes people feel good about having the “”onsen”” or “”ofuro”” experience at home. For non-japanese customers you may need to use “”hot spring”” instead because they won’t understand onsen or ofuro.
Finally, you could suggest the balls as a “”massage”” item. That you can roll the base of your feet on the balls while you are in the tub.”

9) Depends on what is included. It is hard to say without seeing the product. Also it is difficult to tell the scale of the balls. I think you should focus on keeping the style as Japanese as possible. Particularly as these would make great gifts in the west. I think you’re pattern is a great traditional pattern that would appeal to a lot of people including both sexes. I’m not crazy about the word “instant” as it feels a little cheap to an experience that is so luxurious. But that is just my opinion. I don’t like 4 balls either (I would call the actual balls Ofuro Orbs) I would try for 5 but depending on their size, 3 may be fine. Maybe different names for different audiences? For Americans maybe “ZEN BATH.. the Ofuro experience”. It’s clearer to a westerner and the word zen conjures up thoughts of tranquility and exotic locales. Also as you grow could develop new experiences “ZEN BATH…. the _______ experience. Your work is beautiful, concentrate on this product living up to that style and quality… Just some quick thoughts…best of luck! T. P.

10) I love hinoki and I look forward to the day when I can afford ofuro in my house. I like this idea of yours. Number of balls is dependant on aroma. If they are strong then three will suffice.

11) It’s not entirely clear what the product is, so it’s not so easy to provide good feedback, and is there one product or several?

12) Great idea!

13) Three is a nice number if that’s enough to create the smell of hinoki in a tub. I’m not sure about the name. It would depend on whether people know what the words mean. Is onsen more commonly known or is ofuro. I would guess onsen, but I don’t really know.

14) Very interesting idea. Good luck with your project.

15) Fun gift idea.

16) “If you’re marketing to american market, most are not familliar with the japanese terms ofuro or onsen. -at least not readily. It’s different if they’re allready searching for it, but it seems you want to attract people who aren’t aware of hinoki and its aroma.
3 balls for pouches, but small hinoki box may be a nice option- I would expect to pay more for that, and I would expect to see 4 balls if its in a box.”

17) “I love this idea & would definitely give these as gifts, as well as get a set for myself.
Bag material idea- I recall seeing textures linen (& maybe silk, too?) face cloths when I was in Japan & then again at the Muji stores in NYC. Maybe something like this, related to bathing, would be appropriate?
Other materials – there are so many Japanese textile traditions. Maybeshibori”

18) “Dear Iacopo Torrini, You produce amazing bathtubs and utensils for bathing relaxation, we’ve been admiring your work. This idea of the Ofuro wood balls is good to promote the ofuro tradition, in a way similar to Proust’s madeleines which evoked the qualities of an intense and beautiful experience. I wish you all the best for this endeavor, Sandra
How big are the spheres? They should have a perfect size like the hikaru dorodango”

19) What is the “special product” in the kit?
20) “もし、檜の形が何種類かあって好きなように選べるともっといいと思います。(数も形も組み合わせ自由なのが理想)
例えば、ハートとか星とか動物の形とか数も好きなように選べるといいな、と思いました。
 あと、袋はかわいいけど実際使うとなると檜ボールをお風呂に使った後この袋には入れないと思います。濡れているし乾かすために箱とか台とかなにか置いて乾かせるものの中に入れるかしたほうが、個人的には実用的だと思いました。例えば、箱も檜で石鹸ケースのように水が切れるようになっているようなものとか。”

and many more!

Survey for Indiegogo campaign

Dear friends, dear deep-Japan lovers.

As it leaked from some previous posts, I am going to start a crowd-funding campaign to develop a new product. One aim is to bring the ofuro culture to a broader public.
Another aim is to bring to the world a mind sizzling new sensation.

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Is it too obscure? You will have to wait until next week, september 3rd when we will launch the campaign.

There are still some details I am working on and I really would appreciate to hear your opinion.
I sent a mail to all our previous customers with a link to the survey page.
If you are willing to contribute, just subscribe to our mailing list in the box to the right –>

Thank you, I really appreciate your help!

iacopo torrini ~

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