Tag Archives: Japan

Bamboo on the Internet for March, 2015

bamboo prawnsBetter late than never? Bamboo on the Internet for this month is delayed by an abundance of delightful small and large adventures – none of which have anything to do with bamboo. To start, Bamboo Prawns, but not as we know it. Should you find yourself in An Nhon Town in the central province of Binh Dinh, Vietnam, you could pick up a pair for as little as US$16.

bamboo bikeNow that bamboo bikes are all the rage, the competition is fierce to gain an edge over all the other bikes on the market. Last month I wrote about a bamboo-flax composite bicycle. This month I’m bringing your attention to a bamboo-balsa composite frame with 3D printed parts. The bike has an inner layer of carbon fiber, followed by laminated layers of woven bamboo, a balsa core, another layer of woven bamboo, and finally a protective layer of resin.

Learn how to make fire with bamboo. The lesson starts at 4.45 minutes:

bamboo massageAnother must-have from Japan. Chris sent me a photo of a bamboo massage tool. It’s hollow, and he assures me it’s not as uncomfortable as it looks. (Thanks, Chris.)  Tattoos created with bamboo needles on the other hand, are painful. Read a first-hand account of a Westerner getting some traditional tattoos at Wat Bang Phra in Thailand. Interestingly, he mentions that invisible tattoos are becoming popular. Using sesame oil instead of ink, the tattoos still imbue the same protection as ink tattoos because the monks use the same process, design, mantra and powers as they do for ink tattoos.

winerackThis bamboo wine rack caught my attention for it’s sheer simplicity. But once you start looking at wine racks on Amazon, there are lots of different designs.

To finish up, here is another purely gratuitous image involving food. If you’re lucky enough to be dining out in Seoul, you’ll find the Spring Bamboo Delicacies special set at The Westin Chosun. bamboo shoots, bamboo spring

Bamboo on the Internet for January, 2015

A light month of things bamboo on the internet that got my attention, but here goes:

  • Firefighters_compressedNinja firefighters? Firefighters on a stick? Only in Japan: firefighters in Tokyo displaying their prowess on top of 6 metre bamboo poles.
  • BambooBikeIf you needed another reason to get a bamboo bicycle, this might be it: A bamboo bike that can recharge your mobile devices. It can run your on-board navigation system, and charge your smartphone, and one other device. Oh, they also come with a bluetooth option.
  • Also on Amazon are some very cool-in-a-clunky-kinda-way calculators.
  • Or how about bamboo grips for cameras? They are available for a range of popular digital cameras. Why? “improved ergonomics, increased protection, and a unique look.” And yes, you can buy them Amazon.
  • ModernTwist_compressedModern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art is an exhibition exploring the innovative shape bamboo art has taken since the mid-20th century. The exhibition is on in Florida until April 25 (2015), if you happen to be near by.
  • Taiwanese newspaper, The China Post, posted an article about bamboo artist Wang Wen-Chih and his most recent Woodford Folk Festival project. The 2013-14 installation at Woodford, Woven Sky, received such a positive response that he returned this year with some childhood friends from his hometown in Taiwan to construct Woven Cloud. He was assisted by 40 local volunteers. Cave Urban have some great images posted.

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 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.

Drill bits for bamboo, part 2

drill bits for bamboo, forstner bit, triple cutterOn a recent trip to Japan I purchased a few more tools for working bamboo. Visiting yet another large home improvement store on the outskirts of Tokyo, the Star-M triple cutter was spotted. Not by me though: one of my kind and generous Tokyo hosts drew my attention to it. (Thanks Koh). I was too focused on locating more spurred drill bits to even notice the picture of a clean hole in bamboo on the packet.

drill bits for bamboo, forstner bitsWith a little online research it was identified, in English, as the Star-M triple cutter. It is listed in the special use category of the Star-M catalogue.  The drill bit is made in the style of a Forstner bit rather than the more common auger bit.

As a Forstner bit, the triple cutter requires more pressure than an auger bit, so it’s better suited to a drill press than a portable drill. In the absence of a drill press, I did, however, manage to drill a very neat, clean 10 mm hole in a section of dry bamboo using my portable drill without too much trouble. The small diameter probably helped here. And a measure of patience. I had to stop from time to time to clear the shavings from the hole that started to smoulder slightly. Overall though, I’m very pleased with the end result.

Amazon have a selection of Forstner bits. Although I couldn’t see any from Star-M, there are some with similar tips to the triple cutter. The situation is similar on eBay au. If you have your own drill press you probably already have a selection of Forstner bits. Do you have recommendations on the best Forstner bits for bamboo? Please leave a comment.

drill bits for bamboo, Star-M, forstner bitsThe Star-M catalogue makes for fascinating browsing (if you like drill bits). It also offers some tips on sharpening the bits. On the Star-M website you will also find this:

The skilled workers grind the spur and cutting lip by hand one by one and confirm the sharpness”

Confidence inspiring.

Bamboo skirts on trees

bamboo skirtNear where the Takano river joins the Kamo river in Kyoto sits the ancient Shimogamo shrine. The main approach to the Shinto shrine is along a wide path through the Tadasu no Mori (the ‘Forest Where Lies are Revealed,’ or the ‘Forest of Correction,’ depending on who you ask). This woodland of broad leaf trees is, apparently, quite rare in modern Japan. Some of the trees are up to 600 years old. And a few of these trees have bamboo skirts.

bamboo skirtsInvestigations into precisely why some of these ancient trees wear skirts revealed little. It seems the bamboo skirts are providing some kind of protection to the trunk of the tree: one local thought that it may be protection from disease. I saw only three trees under bamboo, but I did not fully explore the 12 hectares of national historical site listed forest. The shrine and the forest are of such renown that you will find items such as jigsaw puzzles, mugs, books and prints celebrating them on Amazon.

The only other instances of bamboo skirts on trees that I found online were academic studies detailing experiments to prevent Nipah virus infection in local populations who harvest and consume date palm sap. The bamboo skirts act as a barrier to fruit bats, also fond of the sap, that transmit Nipah virus by contaminating the raw sap with their saliva.

bamboo skirts on trees, Shimogamo shrine, Tadasu no Mori bamboo skirt path1Bamboo skirts aside, the Shimogamo-jinja and Tadasu no Mori is a lovely place to visit should you find yourself in Kyoto. One of my visits coincided with a market day. Numerous local craft stalls at the market had attracted quite a crowd. And still, the place was quiet and subdued. Lovely.

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