A common friend introduced me to a genial wood craftsman from Western Kyoto… And it was love at first sight!
Bartok design Japan Co. will be the official distributor for the products of Murayama Mokko worldwide! -> to the shop page
Shinichi Maruyama is specialized in the “Kumiko” technique which is used to create shoji and other traditional interior items. (See below for more details) But Maruyama-sensei pushed the technique towards new unimaginable horizons with curved kumiko, three-dimensional kumiko, and stunning interiors for leading hotels such as Ritz Carlton, Prince Hotel, ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel, FAUCHON L’Hotel, and others.
But Kominka Summit 2022 is not only the Minka mall exhibition. If the management approves, I will try to sneak into the seminar room and bring you to your homes the wisdom of our top-batters:
Keynote speaker for the event is author and lifelong minka and inaka advocate Alex Kerr, whose 300-year-old minka in the Iya Valley, Chiiori, is one of the best-known in all of Japan.
Other speakers include Azby Brown, acclaimed author of seminal books including The Genius of Japanese Carpentry and Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan; traditional plasterer Kyle Holzhueter (the first westerner to pass the level one Japanese National Plastering Exam); traditional architects Jonathan Stollenmeyer and partner Kohei Yamamoto (1st class licensed architect and carpenter); organic farmer and educator Chuck Keyser; and Jaya Thursfield, whose YouTube channel (under the name “Tokyo Llama”) documents his traditional home’s renovation and has more than 15 million views.
(If I cannot sneak in, I will try to interview them after the events)
I am planning to stay connected with zoom and facebook-live during the event and provide a virtual tour to all of you who cannot participate in person.
Topic: kominka summit 2022 through iacopo`s eyes Time: Apr 22, 2022 03:00 PM Osaka, Sapporo, Tokyo Join Zoom Meeting
We have been invited to participate at the ”Minka Summit 2022” (22-24 April 2022) in Hanase (Kyoto)
There will be some 50 exhibition booths related to traditional crafts, restoration of folk houses etc. Bartok design will have a small exhibition booth featuring at least one ofuro and our best smiles!
Experts in Japanese culture such as Alex Kerr and many other amazing keynote speakers will also be at the event.
It is really a dream come true. Absolutely awestriking!!
a beautyful sunny and blue sky on the Jirinkongou karesansui! Stunning photos received from the Wabi Sabi Ryokan in S. Ginesio (Sibillini mountains) – Italy Address: Via Papa Giovanni XXIII, 62026 San Ginesio MC, Italy Phone: +39 335 396 025
How are you? I trust you are enjoying a serene holiday season. I wish you a very happy year-end, in the warmth of your family, and a shining beginning of the New Year. ＼(^o^)／ 2021 has been a challenging one. But “challenges” have always been part of our lives and always will be: as the hatred examinations when we were in school, every challenge helps us to improve and become stronger and wiser.
The trick is to maintain a positive attitude and remember that “thoughts create reality”: even in this long Covid parentheses, I trust you will treasure the positive facets of this situation and continue to keep an eye towards a brighter future and what we can do on a daily basis to make it happen.
I am wondering when we will be able to break free from the compulsory habit to wear a mask all the time.
A nice couple come to our workshop in Yotsukaido (near Narita airport) to see the timber that will be used for their ofuro project and our Mr. Ikeda surprised them with expressly made hinoki cutting boards.
What a treat!
First, the planks are roughly planed by machine
then, the edges are rectified
both sides are made smooth and silky with a fine electric plane
then the corners are mitered
and finally the iron brand is applied. Just few seconds, Ikeda-san!
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.!)
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!!
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!
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!
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.