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japanese traditional patterns coloring book!

From the beginning of this year I have had the privilege to associate with Jogan Yoshio, kimono designer in Kyoto. I visited his atelier, had the chance to attend some events with him and we are also starting to collaborate on some projects (such as the one in Wakayama) .

He is really the quintessential Japanese artist/craftsman: soft spoken, passionate and humble. His right arm is the charming Hiroyo, with feline eyes riding high heels and sports cars: it feels like she could have just come out from a 007 movie or a Lupin III cartoon. The matching and the positive contrast of different elements is somehow a trademark of Jogan sensei.

He practiced since his childhood in the ateliers and along the water streams of Nishijin, the area where Kimonos are woven, dyed, block-printed, painted and embroidered with the collaborative work of dozens of separate companies. Kyoto is famous for its rigid and at the same time soft structures. Rules are not written but are so strongly encoded in the social behaviors that create a kind of invisible system of relations that puzzle the westerner. The secret is to learn every thing with the body rather than with your rational mind.

Rules are not there to be discussed but can be interpreted. Traditional patterns cannot be modified but of course are filtered through the sensibility and the DNA of each individual artist.
I think you will understand what I mean by watching this video:

check below for more photos and info to purchase the book.

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new yield of hinoki oil

We made a new production of hinoki oil, both DSB quality (young trees) and SR (special reserve kiso valley old growth hinoki)

I bottled 100 – 10ml. flasks per type, and I am willing to sell the rest in larger bottles at a discounted price.
DA – DA – DA -DADADA DA !
A) 1 bottle 100 cc of young trees oil (plastic bottle, no drip cap) = 12,000 JPY
B) 10 bottles 100 cc (1 liter in total) of young trees oil (package as above) = 80,000 JPY
C) 1 bottle 50 cc of special reserve oil (glass bottle, no drip cap) = 12,000 JPY
D) 10 bottles 50 cc of special reserve oil (glass bottle, no drip cap) = 90,000 JPY

*) packaging and shipping worldwide 1,000 JPY per parcel (air mail – no EMS)
– one parcel can hold up to 300 ml in any combination –

stock is limited so if you are interested please contact me at japan@bartokdesign.com asap!!

(see below for the production photos)

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kimono in the forest. An unforgettable memory!

this photo will inspire many! A tatami room immersed in the forest!

I received some beautiful pictures from Helen, a lucky owner of a Bartok design`s ofuro.
Here is her story:
When we travelled in Japan in 2013, we never stayed in hotels, but in Airbnb’s (of course, the price too is favorable) and once in a ryokan (in Nara). This gave us the best of all our Japan experiences on that summer!

We stayed with an elderly couple in Okayama prefecture, and I asked the woman (no English, just body language:) to show me how to tie the obi, as we had bought some old kimonos at the market in Kyoto.

This led to the most beautiful experience, as she was so engaged and happy for our interest, she collected all kimonos she had, showing them (her daughter is a textile artist, and had made a masterpiece of a hand painted kimono as an art project) and dressed us up – I think the pleasure of this was indeed mutual.

Then she persuaded us to wear them during a visit to a special restaurant in the forest, very traditional – and there we all sat, on our knees in our kimonos, eating all the strange and beautiful dishes. We will NEVER forget it. 
Well, now you got this long story (just an example, I have got so many!)…sorry for this! I just feel so passionate about making this kind of experiences available, as I enjoy them so much myself!
Good luck! I look forward to follow the project!
(see all the splendid pictures here below)

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The Nara Garden

As you know, there is nothing more soul-destroying for us here at Bartok design than to see old Japanese homes and gardens destroyed in the name of blind speculation. From time to time we hear about the impending doom before it happens, as in the case of this spectacular garden in Nara prefecture (east of Osaka).

A person I know that empties old houses has to throw away this garden in Nara…

We’ve been given the opportunity to share these pictures and we hope that with will be able to re-home some of the ornaments or even some of the plants.

We cannot say for sure how old these items are but we hope to bring more information to you soon. If you are interested in being kept in the loop please contact me via email (urgently) japan(at)bartokdesign.com

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Nestled in the Swiss Alps

With the email subject line from our client “At last the bathtub is in place” we could appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into redesigning a bathroom. Importing an ofuro from Japan takes no small effort and a huge amount of trust that we are going to get it right.

But get it right we did. Look at this stunning bathroom with it’s outlook on a mini version of the Swiss Alps (or so we like to think, since the bathtub is in its new home in Switzerland). Hats off to the designers of the bathroom who have managed to create a calm and relaxing space that I am sure the owners will love for years to come.

Can you imagine slipping into the delicious hot water after a day on the slopes?

Thank you F.H in Switzerland.


a house for the arts – idea competition

Finally, my prayers seem to have reached some sensible ears up in Heaven…!

An enlightened owner inherited a high grade and extremely well preserved house in Wakayama. The house is a 1,400㎡ (mostly 1 story, 2 rooms on the upper floor) timber frame house on a 3,100㎡ lot.

K-house is relatively new (1940) but being pre-war, it belongs to a sensibility, culture of material and aesthetic sense that unfortunately is now lost and unknown to post war architecture.

I am not being nostalgic: it is an evaluation based on the virtue of the design elements: knowledgeable but with a scent of fantasy.
If you look at the photos below (↓) you will agree that the sukiya-zukuri style in the Taisho and early Showa period is probably the highest point reached by Japanese architecture. The materials are selected with respect for their features. There is wit and irony. Nature mingles with architecture and even penetrates it as branches become railings and full moons become windows.

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The Cat’s Pajamas

Our customer James sent us a fun video of his cat contemplating diving in for a soak in the ofuro. Thanks for the giggle James! Ofuro fun for the whole family. You can see it over on our Facebook page. It’s a beautiful bath, so tranquil.

Send us your pics! We love them!! japan(at)bartokdesign.com is our email address.


https://www.facebook.com/japanese.ofuro/videos/2273150919622731/

Photo credit: Photos generously provided by James Reinke

a tropical heaven overlooking the north sea!

According to the client, the installation is still incomplete: the shower glass partition is missing and the faucet inside the spout needs to be modified. Also the lighting fixtures are still missing – but since the boreal spring provides some light until late in the evening, the ofuro is already operational.
Well, this space seems already PERFECT to me !
I cannot imagine how it will be when it is complete with all the bells and whistles!

from the window. A tropical heaven overlooking a Norwegian fjord!
look at the water droplets! this picture is so inspiring!
what a wonderful smile! Natural? Hinoki induced?

This beautiful bathroom was designed by Oslo architects Skajaa Arkitektkontor, outstanding job!

Reiwa Era: Important Notice

Important Notice Regarding Holidays & Bank Closure

As we welcome the new era! Reiwa era starts on May 1st, 2019


Please note that next week the spring holiday break called “Golden Week” will start. This year our holiday is particularly long on the occasion of the celebrations for the new emperor, taking place of the father who has abdicated. The new era Reiwa begins on May 1st.


To make a long story short, if you can make the bank transfer by April 24 (4/24) I think we will receive it by April 28 (4/28) and be able to work/ship during the long holiday period.


If not, all bank processing and shipping will happen after May 7th (5/7). Thank you for your understanding.


Timeless standard – outlet tub – SOLD OUT

(sorry, sold out)

Here we are dazzled by new emperor-era names, displaced by an uncommonly cold and rainy springtime and preparing for an extra long (but already fully booked) Golden Week holiday break.
In these periods I recommend to lay back and wait for the confusion to clear.
Maybe you can have a cup of hoji-tea and listen to some old time classics like Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday.
Timeless standards can reassure us that also this storm will pass, after all, and every winter (no matter how long or cold) always evolves into a springtime…

But if you try all of the above and the melancholy is still there, we have another “timeless standard” to propose as an infallible antidote to a bad day: a hot ofuro bath!

If you do not have one yet, look at this outlet ofuro tub.
Its outstanding feature is … to be not outstanding: it is a “timeless standard”.
Good for 2 people, in hinoki wood (not asnaro) and with a removable internal seat (already included in the price).
This is probably in the strike zone of 90% of the people who are looking for an ofuro.
2 people / hinoki / internal seat.
The only non standard part of this ofuro is the price: 650,000 JPY !!

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