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News

bathing ri***ls and Wabisabi 2.0 !

Do you remember last year in the “mid-summer greetings” newsletter I shared the appeal from the owners of the Wabisabi ryokan (S. Ginesio – Italy)?
They wanted to create a rock garden (kare-san-sui) to complete their new outdoor deck to be used for events, tea ceremony, meditation etc. and they were looking for ideas on where and how to obtain the racks and tools to create and maintain the rock garden.

Well, God heard their appeal and nothing less than “T”he Guru of Wabi sabi, the great designer philosopher Leonard Koren come from San Francisco to San Ginesio and participated as a special guest at the official inauguration of the “Jirinkongou Uchū” !!!
The new project could not begin under a a more auspicious star!

I am extremely proud of them! and would like to share some photos of their success story. Definitely, these images and video are worth a thousand words! Wabisabi has been in existence for more than 15 years now: anyway with the passing of every year it is becoming even more miryoku-teki! (= attractive, fascinating, enchanting, delightful, irresistible, etc.!)

and you can see more on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wabisabiculture/


Also inspired by this story, I would like to tap into the wisdom of the community of Japanese bath lovers for a project I am considering.
The project is to write a guide on “bath rituals”.

I have to confess that I have been asked and exhorted to write a book on the subject for more than 10 years now, but I always hit my nose on two walls:

  • The first being the fact that I am not an expert in bathing. Many of Bartok design clients have visited more onsen than I have and are much more literate than me in other aspects of mindfulness that take shape through traditional disciplines: from ikebana to archery, from tea ceremony to martial arts, from bonsai to calligraphy.

  • The second is that I do not like the word “ritual”. I am a free spirit and anything that becomes a structured “procedure” smells of bureaucracy, boring repetition, and fetishism to me.
    I developed a strong allergy to formalities, meaningless rules, dogmatic creeds, and religions.
    How can I write a guide or a book on “rituals”? Impossible.

On the other hand, I acknowledge the power of HABITS in bringing a positive change into our lives.
As we are bombarded by manipulated news, negative role models, addicted to customs that undermine our health and immune system, maybe sharing the benefits of bathing would help some people find a way out of the vicious circle.
The word “ritual” makes my skin itch … but “the end justifies the means” – as Machiavelli said.

Maybe the word “ritual” scares me because of its absolute meaning: “this is the Right way. All other ways are Wrong” – is the underlying concept.
Or am I overthinking?
In any case, if a ritual is useful to establish a (healthy) habit… how about making a guide on “Bathing habits”?

Yes! This is much better!!
“Bathing Habits” !
Everybody has their way of bathing, every way is legitimate and beautiful.
As I am typing, I just had an epiphany! Yes, this is the way to go.
I would like to write a guide sharing what I enjoy about bathing.
But… I need your help!
Yes, this guide would only be useful if it was sharing different points of view, tips, hacks, suggestions, experiments about bathing.

Will you share with the world your recommendations about bathing?
When do you bathe? How long? What do you do before? After? What is the purpose? the benefit you seek when bathing? Do you use a wooden tub? An acryl/FRP/metal/ceramic tub? Do you use bathroom accessories? salts? Essential oils? Our “pocket onsen”?

If the guide is published, I will share all the credits and any profit from the sales of the book in equal quotas with all of you who participated with your stories and photos. I cannot promise the guide will become an editorial success… but if it will see the light as a book I promise I will provide full credits and share the proceeds with the contributors, to the penny.

With the Covid craze inexorably permeating every aspect of our lives, (and I wonder for how many more years…) I really think that people need some help to break free from the negative news additiction and find again positivity and hope. Relaxation, meditation, letting go maybe very useful practices and deep soaking “habits” may be one of the gateways to a more meaningful and mindful lifestyle.

Please share with me your thoughts and bathing habits!
Let`s join forces and save the world together! \(^o^)/

I wish you a pleasant August and dedicate you a few relaxing seconds from “Saki no yu” onsen in Shirahama (Wakayama pref.) … enjoy the hot water!

Please send your entries to japan<AT>bartokdesign<DOT>com
writing “bathing habits” or similar in the subject line!
I am looking forward to it!!

ofuro-jiman contest!

“Jiman” means “pride”. So the title translate in “bathroom-pride”…

Well, after a long period of hibernation, I decided to restart actively posting to the bartok design Instagram account.

And this can only be done … with a little help from my friends!

Especially all those who purchased an ofuro or bathroom accessories: please send me your photo and a short testimonial so I can post it to on the instagram page!
Alternatively, if you posted some photos on your instagram account, let me know the link so I can re-post it!

And this can only be done … with a little help from my friends!

Especially all those who purchased an ofuro or bathroom accessories: please send me your photo and your story so I can post them to on the instagram page!

Alternatively, if you already posted your “ofuro jiman” photos on your instagram account, let me know the link so I can re-post it!

as a token of gratitude, I will send a 10ml bottle of hinoki essential oil “young trees” for free to the first 10 testimonials to reach my mailbox!

Additionally, I will present 10 “special reserve” hinoki essential oil for the 10 best photos!

I hope that the aroma of hinoki and its bactericidal properties will keep you healthy in the body and spirit, through these uncertain times!

Please send your entries to japan<AT>bartokdesign<DOT>com
and of course don`t forget to enter “ofuro jiman!” in the subject line!
I am looking forward to it!!

moving to japan? Rica is here to help you!

FOR RENT: A famous traditional noodle shop in a stunning pre-war building is for rent. If you were dreaming to leave everything and move to Japan to start your own udon restaurant, this is an unmissable opportunity!

The Covid may not be making so many victims in Japan as in other more impacted countries but the economy (especially anything related to tourism, food, and hospitality) received a huge blow.

Anyway, it is important to look at the “silver lining” of this cloudy situation.
As the Japanese saying “The flowers of Edo” is implying that the “flowers of Tokyo” are actually fires and street quarrels…
Yes, sometimes the destruction of the city or the social structure as we know it, is the pre-condition to create a new and – in some cases – even better world.

This is what my friend Rica – a bilingual real estate agent – is trying to do.
She has been running for more than 10 years a successful homepage and community making accessible real estate information to international clients.

And now, as usual, forerunner when it comes to new challenges, Rica started a new homepage called “move to japan”: a one-stop information hub for japan-loving foreigners that are considering the option of moving to socially, economically, and sanitary safe Japan and start a new life!

So, if you are really considering taking over the udon restaurant in the photos above, or some of the hundreds of gems shining from hot springs towns to traditional shopping streets, you do not have excuses, NO-MORE! Contact Rica and go for it!

happy endings and happy beginnings

How are you? I hope you are taking some time to relax from this stressful year enjoying some quality time … in your japanese ofuro ?!

2020 was full of disappointing experiences for most of us.
On the other hand, I think we should see also the positive side: thanks to the Covid experience the IT literacy increased tenfold and streamlined a lot of practices by cutting on bureaucracy and inefficient habits.

Less action but on the other hand, more thinking which is always a good thing to do.
And by forcing us to think out of the box we had the chance to reconsider our priorities and create a new lifestyle tailored to what we really want to do.

(more…)

Not just hanko

I stumbled upon a fabulous hanko shop in Osaka, just steps from the moth of Osaka castle.
Of course, I love traditional craftsmen and their ateliers, the air filled with history and the romantic scent of a lost world.

But this time it is different and it is even more uplifting.
Mr. Mitamura established this atelier some 30 years ago and although he has the skill of a sculptor, he calls himself “hanko designer”.
The reason his seals (made in wood, horn or marble) are so beautiful is not just because of his manual ability and mastery of the chisels.

(more…)

lovely books

A former client/ now (and forever) friend sent me her new book featuring 87 pages of photos + poetic comments of her last trip to Japan.
I always enjoy her way of seeing things: sophisticated and friendly at the same time.
But this time the present is double as her daughter (also architect) sent me her first book.

(more…)

Northern lights

Dear Iacopo,
I just wanted to send my greetings from Norway, and share with you a picture of my “little japanese corner” in autumn morning sun:) Thank you for an interesting letter about the wonderful place in Italy! I hope the world will again be open for travelling..
Kind regards,Helen


I received a kind message from Helen from Norway.
The photo is so beautiful I decided to share it with everybody (of course with Helen`s placet) It is so peaceful and poetic that I printed it out and posted on the wall behind the computer. I will look at it to relax and draw energy when in rough waters…!

I take this opportunity to share also 2 other photos from Helen. amazing shadows on the wall paneling (not hinoki but Scandinavian Aspen)
Happy coming of Autumn to all the readers!☆彡

Send a “shochu mimai” or “zansho mimai”? That is the question!

I trust you are enjoying life and managing to protect yourself from the summer heat and from the … XXX-19 based “culture of fear” dominating the news. 
If the answer is not a 100% convinced “YES!”, I would recommend either to take a relaxing bath, or to read the (fully XXX-19 free…) news below.!

Chapter 1): do`s and don`ts about summer greetings in Japan

Chapter 2): let`s help a friend building a japanese stone garden (+ open question)

Chapter 3): advice about re-heating systems for ofuros 

the new spring of wabisabi

The cultural center and ryokan in S. Ginesio (central Italy) re-opened in the post-corona era on May 20th.

And to celebrate they cleaned and re-sanded their knotty hinoki 15-year old bartok design ofuro.

I leave the photos to describe the whiteness of the regenerated hinoki and the colors of the springtime filling it completely.

After the Corona virus I think that long haul flights and trips to faraway countries will be pursued less.
We will assist to the spread of the “micro-tourism” model as theorized by the President of the hotel chain “Hoshino Resort”

If you are in Europe, what other excuse are you waiting to visit the Wabi Sabi Ryokan? For questions/ reservations, contact Ricky and Serenella as per the details below:

Tel: 335-396025
email: irasshai@wabisabiculture.org
facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wabisabiculture/

I think the goddess of spring is a long stay guest here at the Wabisabi!

hinokitiol Vs. COVID-19

hinokitiol is a natural extract of asnaro-hiba wood with strong antimicrobial performance. It has been proved effective in treating penicillin-resistant streptococci and is used as a component for disinfectants, cosmetics, scalp and acne treatments etc.

It can be diluted in water and vaporized in the air: it lasts much longer than other volatile substances like alcohol.
It has been used as a local and ambient disinfectant and insect repellent.

☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
Can It be helpful in inhibiting or treating the COVID-19?
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

I do not know.

But I can supply it !
(because it is a by-product of my manufacture of Japanese cedar wood products, mainly Japanese ofuro bathtubs).

☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
I offer to send samples of hinokitiol to research institutes in case they are interested in testing it against the COVID-19 virus.

Please contact me and let me know the address and contact person information for the shipping. I will send 1g via airmail.
Product and shipping cost is on me.
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

For more information check this page:
https://bartokdesign.com/?s=hinokitiol

  As of march, 17 2020 I already shipped a sample to:

1) Dr. Raymond Goodrich
Colorado State University’s Infectious Disease Research Center - USA

2) Dr. Maurizio Cecconi
Humanitas University - Milano - Italy

3) Mr. Joseph Payne
Arcturus Therapeutics - Torrey Pines Mesa - La Jolla - USA

4) Dr. Brooke Fiala
Washington’s Institute for Protein Design, Seattle - USA

5) Dr. Chen Katz  
Migal Galilee Research Institute, Qiryat Shemona - Israel

I do not have personal contacts within the 9 large companies who have been largely publicized on the media (nor I have big sympathy for large corporations) .
Anyway if you know some researcher who is worthy, please let me know!)

・ Inovio (USA)
・ Cure- Vac (Germany)
・ Gilead Sciences Inc.  (USA)
・ GlaxoSmithKline   (USA)
・ Johnson & Johnson   (USA)
・ Moderna Inc.   (USA)
・ Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (USA)
・ Sanofi (USA)
・ Vir Biotechnology Inc. (USA)

Anybody else you think could use the natural hinokitiol to help defeat the virus?

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