Hiramatsu Bamboo Workshop – 平松竹細工店

November, Katsuyama – 11月、勝山市

Yoshie, Kaori and I took part in Yukio Hiramatsu’s bamboo craft workshop. We drove to the charming town of Katsuyama and walked past old-fashioned buildings with their tiny shops and colourful noren-curtains. 


Hiramatsu’s studio was full of a different size and colour baskets, strainers and items made of bamboo. Every square was invocation; sharp woodwork tools were organized in wooden boxes, paper bags filled with bamboo stripes occupied the corners. We settled on the only empty area on the floor.


Our goal was to make a pot coaster, but first Hiramatsu told us about the different sorts of bamboo and the traditional use of them. He showed us how to use the cutting tools and the technique to work with those long and thin strips; it was hard, but fun. Unfortunately, like many other traditional craftsmanship, this unique skill is in danger of disappearing; plastic has taken the place of bamboo in so many items. After the class, he served us tea and snacks.


Cute shops
Yoshie and Kaori at the workshop

Katsuyama Historical Preservation District

Katsuyama, Maniwa, Okayama, 717-0013, Japan


〒717-0013 岡山県真庭市勝山

Ikebana – 生け花

Chiba, March3月 千葉

My Jinpuu-colleague Yamamoto had studied ikebana for a few years and asked me to join the class. The classes were held at sensei’s home in Honda and there were three regular students besides Yamamoto: Hazumi, Sakuma and experienced Gondaira, who had practised Ikebana for 42 years. 


Takahashi-sensei had taught ikebana for over 45 years and had a very warm and soothing presence. The lesson began as the sensei gave us the flowers and presented the arrangements she wanted us to practise. Each pupil’s setting varied; Gondaira made difficult and skill-demanding arrangements, and I struggled with the beginner-level ones.


When our piece was ready, Takahashi-sensei examined it and explained the details once again; then we practised some more. After the class we set the table at the adjacent tatami room and dined together. It also had tokonoma, where we could take pictures of our achievements.


The class in action
My first arrangement
Takahashi-sensei teaching Yamamoto
Dinner time

Shunkaen Bonsai Museum – 春花園 BONSAI 美術館

Tokyo, March東京 3月

One afternoon Oosaki and I went to Shunkaen Bonsai Museum. The museum is a masterpiece made by the master himself: Kunio Kobayashi, who has lectured in several countries, received many awards and still one can find the humble man in his nursery teaching his apprentices. The museum building is ‘Sukiya-zukuri‘, a traditional Japanese style wooden house with tatami mats and shoji screens. The large windows open to the spectacular yard full of items visitors can admire: the carp pond, full blooming cherry tree, and of course the magnificent bonsai pots. The museum presents over 1000 bonsai trees on its premises.


The art of bonsai is fascinating: creating a microcosm which so perfectly imitates the nature. It’s miraculous how this tiny tree can resemble an actual full-grown, ancient tree trunk standing on the green hilltop. It takes years of practise to master this extraordinary art form, Kobayashi-sensei has spent over forty years among the trees. The word bonsai literally means the tree planted in a shallow container. It’s something much more than just small-scale gardening; it’s a captivating mixture of horticulture, craftsmanship, design and discipline with a spiritual twist.


We had a sufficient guide who walked us through the large building while introducing the individual pieces. After the tour we drank tea with the friendly master and purchased books which Kobayashi-sensei signed for us. He showed pictures from his lecture tour in Sweden and gave me a gift: bonsai magazines and a ticket to the museum. The nursery was an excellent place to visit, and we had the whole garden to ourselves.


The entrance
The nursery
The master Kunio Kobayashi signed my book

Shunkaen Bonsai Museum

 1-29-16, Niihori, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo, 132-0001, Japan

春花園 BONSAI 美術館

〒132-0001 東京都江戸川区新堀1丁目29−16