Takesumi – bamboo charcoal

takesumi, bamboo charcoalContinuing with the Japan focus from the previous post, this post revisits bamboo charcoal with a particular focus on health. Takesumi is derived from carbonised bamboo and demonstrates the same remarkable adsorptive qualities. As a nutritional supplement takesumi is generally ingested for its detoxification properties, especially after exposure to environmental contaminates.

Claims are made that bamboo charcoal:

  • has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties;
  • emits far infrared rays (to improve circulation) and negative ions;
  • protects the body from EMF’s emitted by the electrical devices we surround ourselves with;
  • is a natural source of macro and trace minerals;
  • is alkalizing; and,
  • adsorbs myco and endotoxins, and radiation.

takesumi, bamboo charcoalThe adsorptive qualities of takesumi that provide the detox benefits are also exploited for extending the life of fresh produce and purifying drinking water. Healthy living blog, Japanese Wall also suggests that takesumi can “make wine more fragrant whilst removing its tartness, and also make tea tastier by reducing the acidity.”

takesumi, bamboo charcoalTakesumi-Power Bali recommends that her followers put some pieces of takesami in the water when cooking rice. “It will absorb chlorine, bad odor and toxic substances from water [and] the taste of the rice will be something you have never experienced before.” If the image is true, it won’t make your rice black. If you don’t find that appealing, there’s always takesumi candy, takesumi coffee, tea, or takesumi crackers (if you’re in Japan and can read Kanji).

takesumi, bamboo charcoal, kiln

The charcoal kiln at I’m Home B&B

Researching takesumi online also unearthed a rather idyllic looking B&B in New Zealand that makes takesumi. The Kyoto-expat owners describe takesumi as “mysterious bamboo charcoal.” The B&B property has its own charcoal kiln and they produce a very interesting-looking range of takesumi products, including powdered bamboo charcoal and bamboo leaf charcoal. Another use for bamboo charcoal that they suggest is as a dietary supplement for animals.

An Amazon search for takesumi yielded mostly fountain pen ink, and it’s not even clear if the black is from bamboo charcoal. eBay at least had one seller for takesumi. Do you have a friend in Japan?

References and further reading:

Everyday bamboo – Japan

toygirlBamboo is an integral part of material culture in Japan. Nearly everywhere you go in Japan you see examples of bamboo uses in the landscape, architecture, art, craft, kitchens, bathrooms, gardens… By turns beautiful, intricate, functional, and sometimes, just simplicity itself. This week I’m sharing a few examples of ultra-simple bamboo solutions for take away food, barriers, fencing, ritual cleansing, dividers, gates, borders … let’s start with toys. toy

Surely, this must be as simple as it gets to keep kids amused using bamboo. (Compare the bamboo toys on Amazon!) These were made at a school in Hachioji. The girl certainly looks very pleased with them. (Thanks, Chris). On a complexity scale, next may be the taketombo. Here’s a YouTube demo. Learn to make one here.

Near the entrance to temples in Japan, temizuya, or chōzubachi, often use bamboo as a means of keeping the water scoops in easy reach. This one is in Ueno Park, Tokyo. cleansing ritual, bamboo

At a Sunday flea market in Kyoto these bamboo skewers solve that pesky issue of the meat sliding around on a round skewer.

bamboo skewers

This ultra-simple barrier keeps the larger stones where they belong in the sublime gardens of Ōkōchi Sansō in Arashiyama.

bamboo barrier

bamboo fencesbamboo fencesFencing in Japan can be elaborate. It can also be minimal and uncomplicated. These fences act primary as barriers in temples in Kyoto and Arashiyama.

bamboo frameCross sections of large bamboo culms make an eye-catching wall divider in a Tokyo restaurant. (Thanks again, Chris). bamboo branch gateA few bamboo branches sandwiched and lashed with a couple of small bamboo poles vastly improves this otherwise ordinary gate in a temple in Kyoto.

Everyday bamboo shall continue…

Bamboo on the Internet for October, 2014 – my picks

  • bamboo camperFrom Zenbox Design: A lightweight bamboo-clad mini camper. Towed by a Mini Minor. With a skylight to see the stars at night. More images at Zenbox. The dog looks happy.
  • Bamboo yarn got a mention here recently. I hadn’t thought of it before, but bamboo yarn is not only soft and silky, it’s vegan too! The PETA blog assures us that no cruelty is committed by using bamboo yarn.
  • bamboo, birdwatching towerThe Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency constructed a bamboo bird watching tower near Doyang as part of a bamboo promotion campaign.

bamboo and plastic greenhouse

  • Green Building Elements this month featured a lightweight greenhouse built from plastic drink bottles and bamboo – architect designed, no less. This one is now in operation on a farm near Hanoi.

  • More awesome bamboo architecture in Vietnam. This 750-seat hotel restaurant in Son La uses a local bamboo called Luong that grows to 8 metres high.

SonLa restaurant96 bamboo column units composed of 4 bamboos together induce the vertical expression of the bamboo structure like bamboo forest.

The bamboo was treated in a traditional method by soaking in it mud and then smoking it. I highly recommend a viewing of the other images on the Arch Daily website.

Hong Kong’s Bamboo Theatre

bamboo theatre, bambooSince 2012, a huge bamboo theatre has sprung up each year in West Kowloon in time for the Chinese New Year period. The 800-seat theatres take only weeks to construct. The theatres are temporary structures designed by architects using both traditional and modern architectural design. Ten specialist bamboo craftsman use more than 10,000 bamboo poles to build the theatres.

bamboo theatre, bambooAccording the architect of the 2012 theatre, William Lim, the design of the bamboo theatre is based on what bamboo theatres looked like in the 1950s and ’60s. These were both stages for performances and venues for banquets. The bamboo theatres are usually erected without the aid of a detailed floor plan and construction generally involves lots of improvising.

bamboo theatre, bambooEach year the theatre provides a programme of extremely popular xiqu (Chinese opera) performances. In its first year, the five day festival sold out. The 2013 festival ran for three weeks and was the programme was expanded to include contemporary music and dance performances. Also, a handicraft and food fair was set up outside the theatre. The fair is laid out in such a way to help visitors appreciate the architecture of the bamboo theatre. In 2013, the fair alone attracted more than one hundred thousand people. The 2014 festival ran for one month.

bamboo theatre, xiqu centre

Under construction now is the new Xiqu Centre. The design was unanimously selected from a short-list of five by a jury panel. The Xiqu Centre will be part of the 40 hectare West Kowloon Cultural District. The precinct, built on reclaimed land, will also include 23 hectares of public open space, museums, art galleries, and exhibition centres.

References:

Bamboo Scaffolding in Hong Kong

bamboo scaffoldingThis article about the traditional art of bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong drew me to further research on the subject. Even the casual visitor, perhaps with no particular interest in bamboo, notices the bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong. A 2008 conference paper on the subject revealed some very interesting facts.

Hong Kong has a long-standing tradition of using bamboo scaffolding for construction, renovation, repair work and signage. Bamboo scaffolding remains popular for many reasons:

  • It’s 6–8 times faster to erect than a similar metal scaffold.
  • The cost of bamboo poles is about 6% of the cost of steel poles.
  • For Hong Kong, the bamboo is cultivated in neighbouring Guangxi province, and then transported to Hong Kong along the Pearl River by lashing the poles together and floating them downstream.
  • Depending on the type of scaffolding, bamboo poles can be reused three to five times.

bamboo scaffolding, scaffoldersThe art of bamboo scaffolding has traditionally been passed on generation to generation, or through a three-year apprenticeship, with little written information. Now, apprentices can learn the skill in a year through on-the-job training or by attending a Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) training course. After working in the industry for four years, a scaffolder can take the CITA trade test. In 2006, 268 candidates took the test and only 62% passed.

There is a steady growth in the number of written regulations, guidelines, codes, conferences and publications about bamboo scaffolding. Despite all the training and skill of Hong Kong’s bamboo scaffolders, and the code and guidelines, it’s still a dangerous job:

  • The overall accident rate in Hong is around 60 in every 1000 workers.
  • Repair and maintenance projects account for the majority of the accidents.
  • Many of the accidents in truss-out bamboo scaffolds have resulted from failures of the support bracket anchor bolts NOT the bamboo.

Bamboo scaffolding also has a role in the current democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Professional scaffolders are lending a hand with erecting barriers and protesters are getting very creative with methods for joining the poles to create barricades.

bamboo scaffolding

Amazon and eBay have a curious selection of items related to bamboo scaffolding. Mousepads?

References and further reading:

 

Fermented Bamboo Shoots

fresh bamboo shootsFermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that promote balance of intestinal flora. And they taste good. As a recent convert to fermenting, my next step in that adventure is fermented bamboo shoots. I’m just waiting for the bamboo to shoot.

The north-east of India, with the largest stock and diversity of bamboos in India, also has many different ways of preparing fermented bamboo shoots. Traditional methods of fermentation are often supplemented with more convenient materials.

fermentation, fermented bamboo shoots Mesu
Bamboo shoots are finely chopped and pressed into a green bamboo stem. The openings are covered tightly with bamboo leaves. Left to ferment under natural anaerobic conditions for 7-10 days. Eaten as a pickle.

Soibum
Thin slices of bamboo shoots are packed into a chamber, covered with plastic sheets and pressed with weights. The bottom of the chamber is perforated to allow for draining before being left to ferment for 6-12 months.

Soidon
Entire tips of bamboo shoots are submerged in water in an earthen pot. Liquid from a previous batch is used as a starter. Leaves from garcinia pedunculata (an acidic tropical fruit related to purple mangosteen) are often added for extra flavour. Soidon is eaten as a curry or a pickle.

fermentation, fermented bamboo shootsEkung
Chopped bamboo shoots are packed into bamboo baskets, covered with leaves and sealed. Heavy stones are used to press excess water from the ferment. The baskets are buried in a pit in the forest. Ekung is fermented for 1-3 months. Eaten raw or with cooked dishes.

Eup
Dry fermented bamboo shoots are prepared in a similar manner to Ekung. After the fermentation process, the bamboo shoots are dried in the sun for 5 – 10 days. Eup is eaten as a side dish.

The information here only covers broad methods of fermenting bamboo shoots in India. I’ll post again when I find the simple recipes I want try. Do you have any you’d like to share? In the meantime, I can highly recommend books on fermentation by Sandor Katz. There are heaps of other books about fermenting on Amazon and eBay, as well as a good range of fermenting crocks, to save you the trouble of digging a hole.

References:

Bamboo on the Internet for September, 2014 – my picks

  • bamboo shoot recipesWith bamboo shoot season getting closer in the southern hemisphere, here is a timely reminder to seek out new bamboo shoot recipes. The original caption tells us that this dish hails from the north eastern states of India. The recipe for this bamboo shoot stir is here.
  • black burger, bamboo charcoal, bambooWho could resist a black burger? Images of the Japanese Burger King wonders were all over the Internet this month. Black buns, black cheese, black ketchup. Its here because the black buns are bamboo charcoal bread.
  • Bamboo bicycles are becoming more popular. I haven’t posted any here before because of their apparent ubiquity, but the DIY version looks really interesting.

bamboo sculpture, brisbane festival, cave urban, bamboo

  • This was one of the bamboo sculptures at the Brisbane Festival this year: Brisbane Airport Light Garden, a collaboration between Tony Assness and Cave Urban. Cave Urban are now calling for expressions of interest to volunteer for the 2014/2015 Woodford Folk Festival project, “Woven Cloud”. Details, and more stunning images, are on their website. Last years project, a bamboo tunnel, was featured here.
  • BOO! is a show by French trapeze artists, CirkVOSTA using a 15 metre high mobile bamboo structure. Click here for a short but mesmerizing YouTube clip of a practice session. Or watch the longer 5 minute vid of the show. Read more here.

  • Popularity can be problematic. In Burma’s northern Shan State, the forests are disappearing. Villagers seek out bamboo shoots to smoke-dry and sell to Chinese traders.  The pressures on the environment are two-fold: the foragers are taking potentially unsustainable numbers of bamboo shoots and, huge amounts of timber are needed to feed the smokehouse fires. Full story and video clip here.
  • Bamboo memory foam pillows. They’re new to me. The claims are marvellous: life span of 10 years; dust mite resistant; hypoallergenic; anti-microbial; and, machine washable…  Amazon have them and they rate 4.3 stars out of 5, but they don’t ship to Australia. eBay au had some at the time of writing.