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countdown to Komika summit 2022!

UPDATE: the data connection is very bad 💦
I am not sure I will be able to do the live streaming…
Please check the facebook page for the last minute updates:
https://www.facebook.com/itorrini

in the morning from 8:00 to 9:00 JST I will try to make a guided tour of some old japanese houses in the area.

As anticipated last month, our participation at the Kominka Summit is confirmed!
And even more amazingly: here is a list of the other companies that will exhibit at the Minka mall !!

Toda Komuten
Midori Farm
Somakosha
Writer’s Booth Azby Brown & Alex Kerr
Kohachi Beerworks (Nobu & Jul)
Bartok design co.
山の家具工房 (local traditional wood furniture)
Sasayuri-Ann
Sustainable Daisen (Giant Salamander NPO)
Heart Country Stove
Daimon Brewery
Permaculture Center Kamimomi
Somokusha (Japanese Natural Herbal Tea)
Hideshina
Hanase-Hirogawa Booth
Shimamura Yoshi Shoten
Iju House Project
Kyoto Prefectural Agricultural Council
Hanase Recycle Shop (Ohki-san)
Association of Traditional Reconstruction Professionals
A・UN Ambience Lamps 
The Kominka Collective
The Kominka Japan Association’s U.S. Office
Kominka Forum
Japan Minka Revival Association
ARK Animal Refuge Kansai
Miyama Thatched Roof Co., Ltd
Suikoushya International Craft School in Kyoto 
Nantan City Regional Promotion
Alex Kerr Antiques
Miyama Wood Engineer

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

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81938784994?pwd=N1hNeHdLUGRUbS9BYkFMUVJrbmJrQT09

Meeting ID: 819 3878 4994 Passcode: 777


Last but definitely not least, a big thank you to Stuart Galbraith IV who gave the breath of life to the Summit \(^o^)/
I am looking forward to it!

Komika summit 2022!

It seems too good to be true !!

But apparently, it is true !!!

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!!

Check the homepage, SNS pages for more info: https://kominkajapan.org/

Tickets can be purchased here: https://peatix.com/event/3149245

I am planning to stay connected with zoom or facebook-live during the event and provide a virtual tour to all of you who cannot participate in person.

Come back to this page for updates \(^o^)/

Enjoy blue skies and pink sakuras in 2022!

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

https://www.wabisabiculture.org/

finally, almost a miracle of nature: sakura blossoming in winter! Only at Wabi Sabi!!

let`s think brighter in 2022!

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.

(more…)

handmade cutting boards

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!

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…)

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