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

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.

love at first sight in Florida!

Message from the client:

Dear Iacopo,
We have finally installed the beautiful tub you created for us.
Looking forward to enjoy using it this weekend. Although we enjoy just looking at it.
Warm regards,

How do you like this L1400mm x W750mm x H640mm (ext. dimensions) 550mm(deep) hinoki tub with top border frame and copper plates?

The ofuro is literaly ON STAGE!
And the balance between the stone patterned walls and the wood is perfect and communicates a natural yet elegant atmosphere.
I also think the solution for the baywindow is very smart! The frosted central panel for privacy and transparent corners to have multiple views.

Have a worderful bath!

a Japanese in Paris…!

Message from the client:

Hi Iacopo ,
finally my bathroom finished.
I would like to share some photos .
Thank you again for the ofuro.

J. from Paris


For this project we just supplied the ofuro and the shiji-like glass sliding doors were built locally.

even if the rooms are comparted, it looks so bright and ethereal with the shoji-like design!
the grid gives order and at the same time makes it feel more spacious.
I am sure the layout is also very flexible and cozy at the same time.

Even if it not technically shoji, it evokes in my mind the words of the immortal Japanese author Jun-ichiro Tanizaki.
Click the link below (documentary by NHK) if interested in learning why…

june 2022 newsletter

Why are Japanese destroying their temples?

How are you? 
You may remember my appeal to find the right person to adopt a 150+year-old Kameyama temple:

photo album:
Well, the good news is that there is concrete interest from a party in Australia.
I cannot reveal the details now but I have a clear feeling the project is going to materialize.
The reason I am anticipating this “scoop” is that this could become an important precursor of more similar projects. Yes… the not so good news is that what is left over of the construction heritage in Japan is depleting quickly like snow under the sun.
Let alone the governmental policies to encourage demolition of unoccupied buildings, the hyperbolic depopulation of rural areas, and aggressive marketing of prefabricated house makers and governmental grants scavengers.

The next wave of demolitions is not going to spare even temples and shrines.
Actually, there is a weird cause triggering a trend of demolition of old temples all-over Japan and the Kameyama example is just the tip of the iceberg.
Let me explain.
Some temples are being demolished because of a decrease in the population of Buddhist priests or Shinto “guji” to take possession of the building. Sad but probably inevitable.

But what shocked me is that many temples are being demolished for the purpose of rebuilding a new ones. 
In rural Japan, the local families (danka) support their temple or shrine both with yearly donations but also with special crowdfunding for particular occasions such as repair of the building, additions, and reconstruction but also to cover expenses such as the wedding of the son of the priest, rebuilding of the house of the priest etc.

Needless to say that this system can be taken advantage of … and actually it is often abused by unethical priests. A rural family may be asked to pay a special contribution of 10,000 USD or even more to buy a house for the son of the priest. Unbelievable as it sounds, it was common sense in most rural Japan. Needless to say, the grip of traditions, moral burdens, and social customs do not affect the younger generations and the priests (both the greedy ones and the ones in good faith) understand that if they want to raise a large amount of money, they can only appeal to the 70, 80, 90 years old practitioners.
And every time there is a changing of the guard in the head of the families, the temple loses a sponsor.To cut a long story short: the priests understand that this is their last chance to plead for large donations, while the old guard is still alive…
The irony of the fate is that these Japan traditional social customs is now one of the causes of the destruction of the cultural heritage. 

As it is useless to cry over the poured milk, the question on the table is: 

What can we do to turn this tragedy into an opportunity?

Action 1:
I will try to use the Kameyama temple example to gain some visibility in Japan and find out about other submerged realities of temples on the verge of being destroyed and for which we can still propose an alternative plan. 

Action 2: 
I need help to spread the word, network, gather information about possible host locations for Japanese temples (and maybe also traditional houses).

Will you help me?
Often a local park or botanical garden can provide the space available to relocate the temple, and governmental authorities, local businesses, and art patron may raise their hand.
By giving a new caring home to a traditional Japanese building, your city may gain an extra feature that can bring tourism, cultural activities, media coverage, and new business opportunities.

Ride the cheap yen!

(I am sharing a photo kindly participated from M&M who purchased from us an ofuro back in 2005.
More info is available in the testimonials gallery)

Lumber had a cost increase at the beginning of 2022, after about 6 years of fixed prices. Shipping costs are now increasing on a monthly basis…

Nonetheless, this is probably the most convenient period to purchase an ofuro!
As you certainly know, the dollar and the euro exchange rate soared in the past 2-3 months and gained 20% or more on the Japanese Yen.
Experts say this trend is going to last for a few years but I think the biggest gains on monetary fluctuations can be made in the first period before all other economical factors came into play and balance the situation.

The message is: if you are considering buying an ofuro, NOW is the best moment \(^o^)/
Contact me for an updated quotation or for any questions!

 Let`s meet in NY in July!

Because of Covid, (and also because I am not vaccinated), in the past 2 years, I could not travel as I wished to…But I think it is now time to spread my wings again!
I will travel to NY from July 7th to July 14th.

I have a few meetings but I will have time to meet old and new friends. 
Please let me know if you are available and it will be great to get together for a coffee or a green tea!

One of the reasons I am traveling to the USA is a non-ofuro related business.
As an architect, I am now proposing projects that use artificial lagoons (kind of very large pools) to revitalize the rural and stranded property.

Too many of Japan`s 2500 golf courses are now being sold for a few pennies and becoming the prey of solar panel farms, land infills, dumps and other speculations to earn state subsidies.

And from the governmental side, it is shocking to see the huge rise of green field developments, useless industrial parks and “white elephant” projects despite the surge of vacant industrial and commercial land (brownfields).
The economical crisis is apparently the excuse to immolate well-preserved pieces of nature for the brutal … though useless pork-barrel type of developments.

 As an alternative, I aim at creating smart cities, retirement communities, and resorts that can sacrifice a small piece of nature in exchange of large economic output, local employment, and a lifestyle that can ensure more contact with nature while respecting it.

One of the most ambitious projects is to create a smart city in the Kyushu region,
10 Km from Oita airport that – with its 3.0Km long runaway – is not only a convenient hub for transportation but is also a candidate for the space industry with collaborations with Virgin and Sierra Space.

If interested you can watch this video:

Please let me know if:
1) You have an interest in investing in smart real estate projects in Japan
2) You have a way to connect me to “Virgin Orbit” or “Sierra Space” companies

I know that this is not the most proper vehicle for this type of information but as my favorite motto says: “give life a chance”!

Have a wonderful summer and … I hope to meet you in NY (or in Japan)!

All the Best//iacopo

after a 17-year wait… hinoki ofuro meets hinoki ceiling 💕💕

This nice couple based in the USA, purchased a K-grade hinoki ofuro from us in 2005.
Now, they decided to order wide hinoki planks – all heartwood to clad the ceiling and further upgrade their lovely bathroom.

The ofuro really looks brand new after 17 years, thanks for taking good care of it!
I hope the natural feel of the ceiling and added hinoki fregrance can bring you happiness for the next 16 years to come!

Message from the client:

Iacopo – your tub and wainscotting looks wonderful
I am sending you 10 pictures.
Please feel free to use whatever works best for you
All the best  M.

the adventures of Tin Tin in the ofuro!

I love the semi outdoors / semi indoors setting!
Too bad you can only do if you live in the tropics…😢

Be sure to click the PLAY button in the video below to see the motorized door in action\(^o^)/

Message from the client:

Iacopo San,
It is finished and I can start enjoying my blue lotus Spa Ofuro and I love it!
I give you some photos and videos for your magazine,
Kind regards,

T. from Malaysia

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