Searching all of Japan for handcrafted items that express its heart and soul, our proprietor, KASHIYUKA, presents things that bring a bit of luxury to everyday life. Her journey this time took her to Susaki City, Kochi prefecture, where torafudake, the tiger-patterned bamboo grows. At a workshop that’s been in practice for nearly 130 years she came upon a beautiful bamboo basket.
If something’s broken, you fix it. You use it for as long as you can and care for it accordingly. Lately I’ve been thinking that when you interact with objects in this way you come to love them more, and that makes for a more comfortable life in general.
“Bamboo crafts that are made by artisans are not only capable of being repaired and reworked, but in doing so they can be made more attractive,” says Mr. Yoshihiro Yamagishi of Japan’s only torafudake specialty shop, Taketora. Torafudake is a bamboo mottled with a tiger-like pattern. While growing, it looks the same as other bamboo. But when heated with a gas-powered burner the oil in the wood rises to the surface to form the pattern reminiscent of a tiger’s coat. This bamboo grows only in the very narrow mountain valley area of Awa, in Susaki City, Kochi prefecture.
“This area used to be the territory of the Tosa fiefdom, and tiger bamboo was presented as an annual tribute to the lord. On entering the Meiji period  our artisans switched to making everyday items of bamboo. They attempted at the time to transplant the bamboo to another area, but as soon as it started growing there, it ceased to show the tiger-like pattern.” Today this rare bamboo is grown without pesticides and harvested from the mountainside. The artisans developed an integrated process that takes the bamboo from planting to product, and they do all of it themselves. Walk into the factory and you’ll see stacks of bamboo cut to various sizes. Wherever you look it’s bamboo, bamboo, and more bamboo!