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    Collect, Split, Weave


    Aboard the train from Oita station, heading southeast for an hour. Facing the borders of Kumamoto and Miyazaki prefecture, surrounded by mountains including Mt. Aso and Mt. Sobo, is the craftsman’s atelier for the bamboo accessories created for this collection.

    “Oita Prefecture is known to be the largest producer of madake* bamboo in Japan, and has long been home to many bamboo craftsmen. As madake is thick with a beautiful lust, not only is it suitable for manufacturing, but also suitable for bamboo crafts. At times, not only do we weave bamboo, but start from the process of procuring bamboo from groves.” *madake = Giant timber bamboo, or Japanese timber bamboo

    As the craftsman mentions this, recollections of the beautiful bamboo groves seen from the window of the train are brought back. Even in the midst of January, where the weather remains cold and harsh, a tranquil bamboo grove glitters under the warm sunlight, gently swaying to the breeze. The warm and humid climate fosters madake, alongside nurturing Oita’s bamboo craft culture.

    Making of the bamboo accessories starts with a subtle preparation. The madake is split vertically, then its thickness peels off, further cut down to 2mm wide strips. Considerations are taken for the ease to weave, the beautiful finish, and its comfort when worn, thus carefully removing excess streaks one by one.

    Readily prepared thin bamboos are then bundled into 10 to 15 pieces to begin weaving. Everything done by hand, stitch size and angles are carefully adjusted to avoid individual differences.

    The technique used for this piece is called bundle-plait, a technique Iizuka Rokansai, the source of inspiration for this collection, was skilled in and incorporated into many works.

    “Expressed in the small world of accessories, is the taste of bamboo baskets, including Rokansai’s works. For this season’s collection, the design drawing I received reminded me of the flowing curves of mizuhiki*, which were woven true to its design. For the Fall/Winter collection, the new prototype piece is a work in process, and is closer to a modern bamboo basket that is more dynamically and loosely woven. The accessory is aimed to look more three-dimensional with volume, but as bamboo fibers are straight, the challenge is to recreate three-dimensional curves. It seems like days of trial and error are likely to continue.”

    *mizuhiki = decorative art form of knot-tying made from beautiful ornamental cords, used for gift envelopes

    Photography: Elena Tutatchikova / Words & Edit: Runa Anzai (kontakt) /Translation: Shimon Miyamoto