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Filming the craftsman at work

You can see the kumiko craftsmanship, the process of turning square timber into round sticks, and the final finishing touches to the bathtub using a hand plane.
And at the end, we and the Dubai team all ate watermelon together with the grandpa, grandma: even more than the filming until now, this was definitely a scene belonging to movie set!

Outlet ofuro in SG looking for loving owner

A client and friend in Singapore set up an apartment for guests and equipped it with a hinoki bath but since it is rarely used they are considering renting or selling the property.

As they already have an ofuro in their main house, this beauty will need to find another loving household.

Anybody interested? Of course, it is possible to ship, but a “new family” in Singapore would be the easiest and cheapest solution.

Specs are:

Japanese Hinoki wood AB grade bathtub (quartersawn)

L1300mm x W750mm x H650mm (ext. dimensions) 560mm(deep)

Price is 550,000 JPY (and you will have to do the moving)

Conditions are pristine, practically never used.

Get in touch with iacopo at japan@bartokdesign.com for further info or to organize a viewing.

Big news: one more chance to salvage the Kameyama Josen-ji !

I am glad to re-publish here the proposal do salvage and re build a beautiful temple that was doomed for demolition in 2022.

the long tail of the pandemy froze the situation for a couple of years but now the countdown has been s

et up again and the d-day is now December 2024.

so we have 2-3 months to find a candidate and 2-3 months for the actual dismantling work.

I am sharing below the information of 2 years ago.

Exchange rate and shipping costs should have become more favorable as well, so please let us know your advice 🙌

I am not sure if it is sad news or happy news,
…but yes! we can definitely turn it into a 100%  happy news!

An old temple (called Josen-ji) located in Kameyama (Aichi prefecture) will be demolished in early 2023.
The building is said to be at least 150 years old (but judging from the photos I think even more)

The elegant noyane (double roof) slanted iri-moya roof (a mix between hip roof and gable roof) is finished with the “hongawara” roof tiles which means that there are 2 separate parts, one for the concave and one for the convex components.

The size of the hon-do (main hall) is about 11m x 11m + external corridor.

It seems unbelievable, but they are also going to demolish and dump the gorgeous gold plated altar and massive scuptured ranma panels (;゚Д゚)!

See photos below. Also you can access the google drive below for more photos. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1AEYzGB0nBRIv74tMXFIy2VUOA7bb_Nux?usp=sharing

or if it is easier, with google photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/q9kDS2pQ3GcqppxXA (same pics)


Finally hugging with Santiago!

we had many lovely stories and adventures with out customers and friends, but the one I am about to share reaches into the legendary.

first of all the subject: Santiago, Colombian architect operating in Los Angeles and star in the shooting of the special on Bartok design that was aired by NHK few years ago.

We have been in touch since 2009 (for some 15 years!), done 3 projects together, shared information and dreams… and now we finally meet in Tokyo!

Santiago is on a solo trip towards the traditional town of Arimatsu near Nagoya and he was so kind to give me a ring.

First, we headed to our workshop in Chiba and then to meet our top batter craftsman, the shy but warm-hearted Wada San.

The meeting was crowned by a glorious sushi dinner at the shop run by a grumpy as much as sweet couple.

Now that we could connect also in the real world I am sure many more adventures are waiting for us!

bridging traditional crafts to the next century

This is quite amazing, also because I do not know how it could happen that our paths did not cross before.

Steve Beimel is a Californian guy living in Kyoto for some 50 years. He is leading a project that has been on my wishlist for years: making traditional crafts shine. It is not just a matter of saving, preserving or protecting. Beautiful things have the inner power to shine, and Steve is master in giving them right push into the limelight.

As the famous Mendelhsson quote recites: “tradition is the tendering of the fire, not the worship of the ashes”.

And definitely Steve knows the path as well as walks the path.

He ran a customized experiences travel agency for foreign tourists in search for the true japan but just before Covid he shifted full time to the https://www.japancraft21.com/ project.

I think I cannot describe his aim and mission as well as he does, so I would like to encourage those interested to get in touch with him directly.

Let me just say one thing: not only he is generously supporting talented craftsmen and renovating a gorgeous machiya but taking advantage of new regulations in the japan building standard law, he is taking the lead in building from scratch the first Machiya in 80 years!

see here for a Google photos album

I have the feeling that the two of us will find many projects to cooperate on, and you will learn a lot about him here in the future. But the bridging of the traditional knowledge to the new generations cannot wait, so I decided to share his info with the Bartok community with the hope that you also could find your personal projects to develop together with Steve.

hadaka no tsukiai in your hot springs?

Well, “Hadaka no tsukiai” means literally “interact while naked”

It is a centuries-old tradition for Japanese businessmen to cement business relations by bathing together at a hot spring. No sexual factor here: bathing together implies a more personal connection than just a cold and formal work relationship. Also, the idea of being naked together communicates an image of not having anything to hide, transparency, and vulnerability.
I guess that discussing business in the onsen (hot springs) was also a way to ensure that nobody was hiding a weapon (or in modern days: to ensure the other party is not recording with the phone…)

But the hot springs fever is definitely spreading worldwide.
Here are some quotes:

“The demand for thermal/mineral springs tourism worldwide will increase 14.3 percent a year through 2027, according to the 2023 Global Wellness Economy Monitor. The report notes that the U.S. has the sixth largest hot springs market in the world, one that expanded 24.1 percent between 2020 and 2022.  Yet, the sector is still underbuilt in the United States.” – from Hospitality Investor

“One of the big transitions is the interest in investment in large-scale renovations. Investors are looking at revamping the entire design of the resorts very consciously, and in doing that, are not just adding rooms and pools, but other wellness activities as well.” – Jessica Meath, Hot Springs Association

I would like to close this newsletter with a …hadaka no tsukiai business proposal!

Let`s virtually take off our clothes and soak in the steamy water. Let`s first relax by contemplating the vegetation, the rocks and the sound of flowing water.

My business proposal is:
if you are a Hot Spring owner or have a friend/acquaintance that is involved in Hot Springs, please write me an email. We can develop a win-win business relationship together.

More in detail:
■ one business model I have in mind is to provide tubs to spa owners without profit – in exchange for referrals to the spa customers.
■ Other possible collaborations would be for the resale of our essential oils, pocket onsens, accessories etc.
■ And of course, I am also looking forward to hearing your ideas about it!
please write at iacopo -> japan <at> bartokdesign <dot> com


Happy 2024! The year of the Dragon 🐉✨

ishigaki-jima Tojin-baka

There are about 3 different topics I would like to share with you about dragons.

I am excited and confused: which one should I start with?

Lets cool down, take a bath and a cup of tea.

① Well, first things first: I spiritedly wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
As you know 2024 is the year of the Dragon, and I chose the photo above as the cover for this newsletter because it looks like also the dragon … likes to take a bath!!
Actually, the story of the building portrayed in the photo is sweet and sour. The building is a tomb for 152 Chinese laborers who took advantage of a shipwreck near Ishigaki island (Okinawa) to mutiny while they were being transported to the USA. The survivors were hidden by the locals but they were finally found and executed here by British troops in 1852.
Of course, it is a sad story but the colorful decoration of the building dignifies this sacrifice and is a reminder that no matter the nationality or the language, it is natural for men to help fellow men and we should remember this also in 2024.

② Ishigaki island keeps popping in my mind..!
On 30 December I worked until 4 am (31 December…) and before going to sleep I realized I had no schedule for the end of the year. I have 2 days completely free. No work, no plans whatsoever.
I love Okinawa and had the inspiration to check if there were some flights for Naha or Miyako Island.
Of course, everything was already sold out.
The only flight viable was a 7:00 am flight to Ishigaki but I decided to desist.
Not enough time to get ready and probably no hotels available.
And many things to wrap up to start the year with a clean desk.
But now I am connecting the dots: Ishigaki is the island of the dragon (the shape of the island resembles the head of a dragon) and … well … this is the dawn of the year of the Dragon!
I should have gone no matter what!
I have a bitter feeling in my mouth telling me that I should have listened to my gut feeling.
On the other hand, I am happy because I have a full year now to properly schedule a trip to Ishigaki.

Anybody wants to come with me? Let`s go!
And this happening was a reminder for me to listen more to my guts feeling from now on.
Don`t overthink: just do it!

③ This brings me to the last point I wanted to share with you concerning dragons.
I used my year end to complete the video-postcard I make every year for my Japanese contacts.

The title is 「crouching tiger, hiding dragon」
This year I made also an English version. Feel free to take a look!


forgive me a brief personal parenthesis: for the last 3 years I added a morning and evening mindfullness meditation to my daily routine. 
This truly changed my life!
I can now witness that “thoughts do become reality”.

I can now witness that thoughts become reality.
But in 2024 I want to go one further step 「crouching tiger, hiding dragon」: 
My thoughts are limited and so my reality can only develop to a modest extent.
But by being aware of the “hidden dragons” around me (experts, masters, people I love etc.) I can absorb their wisdom and push the limits of what I can do!

※ the saying「crouching tiger, hiding dragon」matches some aspects of the Japanese idiom 「dragon jumping tiger」 that I also like a lot, but it has a different focus.

Thank you for all your support in 2023.
Let`s fly together in 2024!

Happy New Year!

PS: During the holiday time I also managed to upload some more Shu-Ha-Ri belt designs here: “Shuhari belts“.
But I am realizing now that I do not have yet a dragon theme Shu-Ha-Ri belt!
Will be keeping my eyes open for the right obi sash!

see you in Sydney on Nov. 18th !

As many important scenes of my life, all happened in the blink of an eye.
a friend asked me:

“Do you want to participate next week at the JAPAN EXPO” one-day event in the Sydney townhall?”

and my answer was:

Australia has always been at the top of my “want to visit countries” list: and what could be a better excuse than this?
The JAPAN EXPO was first held in 2021 and despite the longtail of Covid, it had 2,500 visitors in 2021 and 6,000 in 2022. They are expecting almost 10,000 visitors for the 2023 edition (scroll below to see the video)
I am looking forward to it and to meet all the Australian friends in Sydney!

Well, I will not be able to bring an ofuro with me … but will display the “Pocket onsen” and the “Shuhari belts“.

It is a great occasion to pick yours: also considering that each one has a unique design so you may want to check them out and see if you find your “love at first sight”.

I will be staying at a downtown hotel on 17th evening and 18th evening.
I will also have some free time during the 19th daytime.
Let me know if you have time for a cup of tea!
See you in Sydney !!!

Feel free to contact me for more information at japan <at> bartokdesign.com

TAKI: install a waterfall in your powder room!

In the past years, we produced several hinoki sinks (order made) but never had a standard product to offer.

We are proud to present our new hinoki sink: “TAKI”!
“Taki” means “waterfall” in japanese: as you can see from the pictures, there is a hinoki plank on which the water widens and flows, like a miniature … Niagara Falls.

The plank has also the function of hiding the drain. and can be easily removed for cleaning.

“TAKI” has a very simple and minimalist design. It can be mounted on a counter and because it has a flat bottom, it can hide the installation of the previous sink – if you are just renovating.

Here below are the dimensions:
Japanese Hinoki wood AB grade sink (quartersawn)
D500mm x W640mm x H200mm (ext. dimensions)

price: 320,000. JPY (includes the drain fitting)

packaging and shipping: please specify your address etc. so we can provide a quotation.
Of course, it would fit inside an ofuro so if you purchase together there would be no extra cost for packaging/shipping.

The original concept involved inserting a recessed light (waterproof type) on the back, under the oblique “waterfall” plank.
Anyway, as it is very easy to implement this detail on-site, we preferred to leave it as an option, also considering it will be easier and stress-free for you to use lighting fixtures available in your country and have more freedom in adding a light controller, remote controller, sensor etc.

Feel free to contact us for more information at japan <at> bartokdesign.com

Adopt a thatched roof kominka (urgent…)

This cutie will be torn down in October.
See more photos from this link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/kKeHXLMNTJPS7KGr8
Foot print (at wall centerline) is about 10m x 9.7m. Add 1m all around for projected roof line.
1 Story. Over 100 years old.
Located in Miyazu city, near the seashore. The straw roof is covered with sheet metal, anyway as you can see from the interior pics, the foundation (on isolated tsukaishi) the large beams, the smoked bamboo covering the inside part of the roof, the bent beams inside the roof structure are perfectly healthy.

Cost of dismantling (parts numbering etc.) about 30,000 USD.
Timber frame is all made with nuki-construction. Basically not a single metal nail. You pull out some wedges and it can be neatly dismantled without damage for the parts.

Cost of transportation: I guess one 40 ft container, considering that you will have to provide for new tatami, new shoji and fusuma etc.
The windows are cheap aluminum frame sashes and should be replaced.
It would be wonderful if you could remake the straw locally – if at all possible.
The walls are tsuchi-kabe (adobe with bamboo framing) and should also be done on site.
Or you can do timber-frame walls if you are not a purist and finish the external walls with plaster or wood slats.

Basically, you can have the structure for 40,000 USD (roughly, including transportation.)
Depending on the construction costs in your area you will need to add 100,000 USD to build and finish it.

Let me know if interested and I can obtain more precise quotations.
Here below, is a proposal considering the creation of a “doma” concrete or stone floor for an open kitchen area and rebuilding the wet areas with a hinoki bathtub (YUIP!)

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