lights and shadows in London

Message from the client:

Dear Iacopo,
Also, I’m pleased to share a first photo of the completed bath room with you. It’s taken on my iPhone only so not the best quality, but it should give you an idea of what I designed around it in yellow cedar slats which match the ofuro perfectly 🙂

Hope it finds you well x

Well… this photo is already incredibly beautiful and communicative!
I cannot imagine a better one!

When I opened the email, at first I thought that by mistake I downloaded a photo from the internet… (;^_^A
I did not imagine that our traditional Japanese bathtub was transmuted in such a cutting-edge zen masterpiece!

I think this image is the quintessential vertical slit bathroom interior that all minimalist architecture lovers are dreaming of. I think that experiencing this space in person, with the five senses, must be even more powerful.

The edges of the room are sharp but immaterial at the same time, traced by shadows that are originated by the contrast with the bright cedar slats that form walls, floor, and ceiling.
I also love the well-balanced dialogue between symmetries and asymmetries.

december 2022 newsletter

yoi o-toshi wo o-mukae kudasai!

The phrase above is used towards the end of the year to wish a “good approach to the new year”, while once entered in 2023, “shin-nen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu” is used, which means: “the new year started to shine, congratulations”
In any case, everything that has a start will also have an end.
But the end is also the launching pad for a new start!
And we wish that 2023, the year of the rabbit will make you jump into wonderful new stories, new experiences, and maybe also in a new ofuro!

(You can scroll towards the end of this email to see my rabbit-themed proposal for the “haiku-yu” model with ceramic plates made by Nanzan Itoh)

White rabbits also remind me of Alice in Wonderland and of the 1969 song “White rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane.
Are you going to chase white rabbits in 2023? I think it is worth it. If we look at whats happening in the world, with the “White Knight talking backward” and “the Red Queen being off with her head” we should definitely remember what the Dormouse said.

He says “take a bath?”, right? (lol !)
or was it “feed your head” ?
Well, I think it does not matter much because in any case taking a bath is the perfect catalyst for meditating, slowing down, connecting with our inner being and of course feeding our head.

Focusing inside is the best antidote to intoxication from negative news that grow into negative feelings to originate the downward spirals that cause wars, crisis, and the lowering of our consciences.

But with the new year, we have a perfect excuse to turn the page and feed our life with positivity. And as much as it may sound egoistic and out of context, I think that positivity starts with self-love or as Japanese say “JI-AI”.
When we feel positive ad energetic, we can protect ourselves from negative emotions and have enough momentum to influence positively and lift up those around us.

Oops, I did not plan to make a sermon about positive thinking…! m(_ _)m
In any case, I think that sometimes we are taking life too seriously, and personally, my new year proposition is to follow white rabbits in 2023.
Are you with us? Let`s enjoy the chase!

New Year = new “haiku-yu” designs!


大雪となる 兎の赤い 眼玉である

Ooyuki to naru
usagi no akai
medama de aru
by Hōsai Ozaki

In the heavy snow the red of the eye of the snow-rabbit becomes evident.

Very simple image yet very powerful, suggesting the bright contrast between white and red – that are also the colors used in the Japanese flag.

The rhymed ending (naru – aru) is also a notable feature of this haiku that combines audio-visual suggestions.

In this interpretation, from far, the tiles appear mostly white creating a refined yet witty coordination with the wood surface of the ofuro.


Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto
by Matsuo Basho

One of the most well-known haiku.
It depicts the multisensorial experience of a frog jumping into the old pond.

The splash of the frog jumping in the water are symbolized by droplets of water and rings on the water surface which are also a symbol of the sound of water: sudden yet mellow.

This set uses predominantly monochrome tiles; the relief is accented by a darker tone of the same base color.
As in other series, one tile representing the main theme is finished with gold color and one containing the signature of Nanzan, is enameled in chrome.

But what is haiku-yu? In the autumn newsletter, I introduced our collaboration project with the ceramist Nanzan Itoh
(see here) ->

We will exhibit one “haiku-yu” ofuro in Honolulu on February 21st and 22nd.
Meanwhile we are also receiving order for personalized and dedicated haiku themed ofuros!

Here below are photos of the the first pop color- series that was completed, dedicated to a tea lover:


茶の煙 柳と共に そよぐ也

cha no kemuri
yanagi to tomo ni
soyogu nari

-by Issa,
a 18th/19th century Japanese poet from the village of Kashiwabara in the mountains of Japan’s Shinano Province

the tea smoke and the willow together trembling


The other design that still needs to be mounted on the
ofuro front panel is inspired by :

虹立ちて 忽ち君の 在る如し

Niji tachite
tachimachi kimi no
by Kyoshi Takahama

As soon as the rainbow rises, it’s as if you were there

We dedicated this to a client who wanted the ofuro to be symbol of the family getting together.
It is nice to reunite, but it is even sweeter to be always together with the thought!

It only remains me to thank you for reading this letter to the end, renewing my best blessings for a serene Year End and sparkling new beginnings!

It is the last day of the year! Or as Matsuo Basho would say:

nari ni keri / nari ni keri made / toshi no kure

it has become
it has become indeed
the end of the year

slice of Japan in Bangkok!

Message from the client:

Dear Iacopo & team,

I wanted to share two photos of my installed ofuro tub at my place – see attached.
I’m delighted with it and use it almost every day, it’s a slice of Japan in the urban jungle of Bangkok.

Looking forward to returning to Japan next year when I visit.

Arigato mille,



I am speachless…
blinded by the pure beauty of this installation, and mesmerized by the witty prose!
I still never met H. in person but we have been indirectly connected for several years as his family is also using a bartok design Ofuro since 2015 back in the UK.
I hope to meet soon in Japan (or in Bangkok?) and thank you again for sharing with us this juicy slice of Japan!

september 2022 newsletter

HAIKU-YU pre-release (for your eyes only!)

(use this link to open a zoomable version of this image)

Well,  it is my habit to weave the backstage stories into my messages to slowly add the strokes that complete the picture and provide you not only with the news but also with the process and the emotions behind it.
Anyway, this time is different.

I am impatient and overwhelmed to announce a new, ofuro model.
Simple, yet revolutionary!

As you can see from the image above, it originates from the collaboration between hinoki wood and the ceramic works of Itoh Nanzan, a 4th generation Kyoto ceramist.
You can see his skills in a video here (scroll down the page)

Nanzan-sensei will make limited series of ceramic plates to replace the copper “kugi-kakushi” of our Edo-style ofuros (with the copper plates detail)

To be honest I am wordless.
Why did it take me so long to come to this idea?!
It makes me feel ecstatic, thrilled, and also a little confused.
Is it an idea or more like a celestial download?

Let me explain more in detail why with the HAIKU-YU, the world will not be the same: the ceramic plates have a double magnet on the back side so they can be scrambled, mixed, or replaced to match a seasonal theme or a color scheme.This is probably the most fun thing that happened in my life!! and almost does not let me sleep at night! 

On top, consider that the HAIKU-YU ofuro comes with a hinoki tray and a sake set (one “tokkuri” pitcher and two “choko” cups or with matcha cups to savor the ofuro experience with the 5 senses.
But how about the 6th sense?
Please be patient, I am getting to it. As the name HAIKU-YU suggests,  all this is pure poetry. And you can also play with it!
A haiku is an impressionist type of short poem made by 17 syllables (5-7-5)
You probably heard the immortal Matsuo Basho verse:
“Furu ike ya – kawazu tobikomu – mizu no oto” – At the old pond, a frog junps in, sound of water. -As there are 18 ceramic plates, every composition can be read symbolically as a haiku poem which is completed by a plate with the monogram of Nanzan-sensei.As the tea ceremony master picks the decor and accessories to match the season, you can now choose the haiku that best fits the occasion – or your mood!

In the quest of the 7th sense…Well, sometimes less is more.
Some other times more is more!HAIKU-YU (YU stands both for “hot-water” and also for “you” – to remind you that – you – are empowered to customize your ofuro experience.
And as you can guess, the possibilities are limitless. 
A 12th-generation sake maker from Fushimi (Kyoto) already jumped into the project with a special formula, slightly sour sake that is like bread and butter with a steamy ofuro.
A ura-senke tea master and producer of rare “Kyo-Tanabe Gyokuro” tea is also excited to collaborate together. There is no rule that forbids to have a tea ceremony in a bathtub! 

Contact me by email if you want to know more about the HAIKU-YU.

I recommend a 1500mm long ofuro (fits 2) with thicker planks to avoid the need for the top frame border “kamachi” which would not fit well with the simple harmony of the colorful plates.

M-7) hinoki tub with 42mm planks: 970,000 JPY
 500L / 132 US gallon 1500L x 750W x 630H (D550) (59.1” x 29.5” x 24.8”)

hinoki tray: 30,000 JPY
one set of 18 plates: 220,000 JPY
one sake set with 2 cups: 110,000 JPY
one bottle of tsuki no katsura sake (since 1675): present

All the best and happy HAIKU-YU!
with love and enthusiasm//

from iacopo

the beauty and the ofuro!

Message from the client:

I love my bath. See attached picture. 

S. from Canada

Also in Japan, walls of traditional stle bathrooms are clad in black (granite).
Needless to say the dark color enhances the natural wood tone and makes the sawara shine as if it was gold!

golden harmony

Message from the client:

I love my bath. See attached picture. 

S. from Canada

Also in Japan, walls of traditional stle bathrooms are clad in black (granite).
Needless to say the dark color enhances the natural wood tone and makes the sawara shine as if it was gold!

doubling-down in Hawaii

Message from the client:

Aloha, loving my new ofuro and the smell is amazing!
I would like to order another, this time a rectangular shape. Is it possible to have a knotty ofuro made?
Please let me know.
Thank you,

M. from Hawaii

The kadomaru looks amazing coordinated with the simple grey tiles and the green outside of the window!
I am afraid we do not have knotty material available and it has been like this for over 3 years,
I hope the client will settle for the knotless hinoki or asnaro…

ocean freight Vs. air freight

Thank you very much for this information. I have three questions.

1) Your plans call for a copper apron. Is there concern about the copper oxidizing and staining the floor? This will be installed in a room with both steam and a shower, so the outside will get wet frequently. If the copper could stain the floor is there an option to construct the ofuro without the copper apron? Will this change the cost of construction?

2) Your price quote is for air freight. We do not need the ofuro for many months, so slower freight is OK. This would be better because the air freight costs are too high for us. Can you provide a quote with ocean freight?

3) How do I pay import duties to the United States, and are these required even for a personal purchase? I have never imported anything myself so do not know how to do it. Any website you can send me with more information would be helpful.

Please note:

1) Yes, the copper will turn green anyway it does not drip a staining color.
There is another wooden joist between the copper and the floor.
Also, we never had problems and complaints about the floor becoming stained.
If you are worried about this, we can provide an oil finish instead of the copper apron.

2) In the case of the USA, ocean freight is actually more expensive for a package of this size.
(many fixed costs for loading, devanning etc. independent of the transit fee which is of course cheap)
Also, in the case of the USA, for ocean freight, the consignee has to have an import license.
So you would have to contact a local forwarder to do the import procedures on your behalf and this of course adds to the cost.

3)About the duty, in the case of the USA it is 3.2% (on top of the sales tax) but we do not have a way to establish the precise amount in advance.
We are planning to use DHL for this shipment.
They will contact you at the time of the customs clearance anyway you can also contact them directly in advance for information.

DHL USA Customer Service;
Tel:  1-800-225-5345

Please let me know of any other questions.

dealing with high humidity

I forwarded your email to my client and he has a few questions:

1. My client will use the ofuro on average once every ten days. I will
highly appreciate any advice from you for care and maintenance. The Philippines
climate is tropical, with humidity ranging from 71%-83%. There will be windows to
provide natural ventilation.

2. Can we use the hybrid type (with fiberglass mold) based on the desired
dimension of the ofuro, and based on the frequency of use?
If yes, please give me a quote using your recommended wood.

With 71~83% humidity, it is enough if you use it once every 10 days and if you use natural ventilation, it should be fine.

Consider that the humidity in the bathroom is not distributed evenly.
High humidity is “sneaky” and tends to “hide” in the corners and under the tub.
It is very efficient to use a fan or air circulator, placed on the floor and directed to the base of the ofuro for 30 minutes after use.
This pushes out the super-humid air without drying the wood.

I would recommend not to use a cover. Leave the wood exposed to the air and monitor frequently, especially at the beginning.
The precautions in preventing the formation of mold are the same even for the hybrid type.
The hybrid type is about 2.5 times more expensive than the solid construction bathtub.
The only advantage in your case would be that the hybrid type does not need metal straps so you can have a cleaner design.

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