From Intricate Art to the Sofa Surprise ”Bamboo Artist, Masashi Yagisawa”

From Intricate Art to the Sofa Surprise
”Bamboo Artist, Masashi Yagisawa”

Sofa Weaved with Bamboo

We were first shown Yagisawa’s works displayed on a shelf. They were mostly vases and baskets. The intricate weaving which resemble miniature paintings were astonishing, while some works are roughly woven and highlight the bamboo material. They give a sturdy impression emit a different kind of charm compared to the delicate ones.
But out of all the works, what surprised Nakata the most was the bamboo sofa. A sofa made by carefully bending and weaving bamboo.
It took some courage to sit on this sofa so roughly woven that the other side can be seen through, not a tightly woven one. Nakata sits hesitantly, but there is no discomfort. It is none other than a real sofa.

Bamboo that Enables Sofa

Since the sofa is woven roughly, it becomes an indirect lighting when light is placed inside. The room is illuminated with a strange light bringing about an exotic atmosphere. “this is so interesting.” Said Nakata and did not move for some time. One would think an accurate plan is necessary, but Yagisawa does not draw a plan and says the only plan is in his head.
He says it is possible by knowing the bamboo. They go in to the mountain to cut down the bamboo they use themselves. The standard is a three years old bamboo. A younger bamboo would be too soft while an older one would be too hard to use. We were shown a fine bamboo which grew in a cedar forest in Ohtawara. It was a beautiful bamboo without scar on surface, unlike bamboos that grow in a bamboo forest.

The charm of bamboo spread by a ring of people

Some artists were working in the studio. They quietly keep weaving the bamboo with skillful motions.
Yagisawa taught them skills of bamboo craft in hopes to spread the attraction of bamboo to many people. He taught so that each becomes an artist who can complete all processes. At the same time, he took individual talent into account such as whether a student is good at delicate works or rough ones. Many of his apprentices now gather for workshops and hold joint exhibitions. The charm of bamboo along with the ring of people associated with bamboo craft continues to grow.

At the end of our visit, they showed us a documentary film about the works of the late Keizo Yagisawa who is the father and mentor of Yagisawa. The late Keizo Yagisawa learned the skills for bamboo craft and founded the base for bamboo craft in Ohtawara. His enthusiasm did not stop in Japan, but went on to teaching techniques of bamboo craft in poverty areas, which had no industry, in countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, and China.
Watching the fine hand movements in the movie, Nakata repeated “amazing” and “it’s beautiful” many times. Yagisawa also nodded every time, letting out “It is amazing.”
“I see from the hand movements that he has done this many times.”
Pursuing the possibilities of bamboo craft and teaching the charms of bamboo to many people, Yagisawa keeps working with the passion he inherited from his father inside of his heart.


Yagisawa Chikugei Kobo--Masashi Yagisawa
Ohtawara, Tochigi