Breathing new life into Beppu’s traditional bamboo craft
Oita is the largest producer of long-jointed bamboo. Beppu bamboo craft is Japan’s National Traditional Kogei which began with baskets used for door to door sales in the Muromachi era. ”Baica” is based in Beppu, Oita. It was established in 2006 to pass on the traditional techniques and philosophy, to improve esthetic quality of bamboo craft, and to nurture future craftsmen. With freelance designer Mr. Kosei Shirotani as the art director, Baica is run by young craftsmen. The name ”Baica” is derived from plum blossom, the prefectural flower of Oita. The four members of Baica, the leader Shigetomi Ohashi, Takayuki Shimizu, Hajime Nakatomi, and Keiko Hirose breathe new life into the traditional industry of Beppu bamboo craft.
Bamboo craft as culture
Nakata visited bamboo craft artisan Hajime Nakatomi’s studio. Nakata observed the bamboo being split into strips and then woven. Precision is required to weave the bamboo strips while calculating the space in between them. One of the prominent pieces created by Nakatomi titled ”Prism”, combines various parts of bamboo. It is very unique in that it does not look like bamboo craft at first glance. The members believe in the importance of not only passing on traditional techniques, but having the ability to design pieces that can involve with the times, so that the market can be expanded, and actively exhibit their pieces in Japan and abroad. We certainly hope they will continue to turn out pieces that match the times, and spread their work.
- Bamboo craft artisan Hajime Nakatomi
- Yufu-shi, Oita Prefecture
- URL http://www.h-nakatomi.com/