Strips of thin bamboo interweave to create a delicate beauty 

Home of high quality bamboo
Hachiku are young bamboo growing in the basin of the Warashina River, which is a tributary of the Abe River flowing into the Suruga Bay at Shizuoka City. The superb quality of these hachiku bamboo has been known since ancient times; at the Toro Ruins site in Shizuoka City colanders and baskets have been excavated dating to the Yayoi Period (c. 300–100 bce). Throughout Japan bamboo has been used and worked into many forms, but the fine quality of the local bamboo in Shizuoka has made the Suruga bamboo work produced there especially well known, as is documented in records like the Nihon sankai meibutsu zue (the pictorial book on famous products from Japanese mountain and sea) where it states : “In Sunpu’s Fuchū, the bamboo baskets are famous. Their artistry is good. People from Kanto praise the Suruga basket”.
Special products of Suruga
Shizuoka used to be called Sunpu and was the home territory of the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu. Generally it is believed that the first Suruga Bamboo Work was made to hold hawk bait for Ieyasu, a lover of falconry. Documents relate that in the early Edo period bamboo basketry pillows were made in Sunpu and used regularly within the Edo castle. In addition, in the late Edo period, a samurai of the Okazaki clan stopped in mid journey to teach the people of Sunpu the delicate techniques of bamboo construction done with bent slats (maruhigo). This is said to be the beginning of the Suruga Bamboo Work that we now know. Among all the bamboo crafts in Japan, the art of working with maruhigo is unique to this area. The cages made with maruhigo became popular for birds and insects because their rounded slats and forms do not damage the wings.  
Export ware
The Bamboo Work began to be actively produced for export after receiving high acclaim at the 1873 Vienna World Exposition. They were better known in Europe before the war and in America after the war. But their role as an export craft came to an end in the 1970s due to the dollar shock. After that, Bamboo Work continued as a traditional craft of Shizuoka while aiming at creating objects appropriate to contemporary times; in 1976 it was designated a National Traditional Craft, and named "Suruga Bamboo Work".  
Sunpu takumisyuku
Modern Bamboo Work 1
Many Bamboo Work pieces combine interlacing and braiding and this design with a decorative Nanking weave is particularly striking. It is a graceful bag, reminiscent the Yamato type insect cage.
Modern Bamboo Work 2
The random mesh and the soft curves create a nuance of shades. The characteristic lines like rain streaks are made because the higo (bamboo slats) do not interlace.
Step 1: Scraping off the surface skin
The making of Suruga Bamboo Work starts by making the thin bamboo slats or higo. First the bamboo poles are soaked in water overnight till they have swelled and softened for scraping the surface.
Step 2: Splitting and hegi 
After the entire surface of the bamboo has been scraped off, the bamboo is split in to strips one centimeter wide using a hatchet. Because the area close to the outer skin of the bamboo is very resilient, the bamboo is planed from the inside. This process is called “hegi”.
Step 3: Fine splitting: kujiki
The bamboo to be split is placed between two blades and a small cut made at the end. Then, it is held with both hands and twisted; the bending splits and divides it. This called “kujiki”. In this way it is possible for the bamboo to be split into very thin higo with a corner.
Step 4: Higohiki
Once the thin higo with a corner are made, the ends are sharpened and then the hego are passed through a blade in the shape of a round hole called a higotoshi. The size of the hole varies from big to small, each used for a different purpose starting with rough scraping (arabiki), and going on to medium (chūbiki) and fine scraping (shiagebiki), ending with a beautiful round maruhigo.
Step 5: Curving the higo
One of the characteristics of Suruga Bamboo Work is its curved lines. Making use of the innate malleability of bamboo, which bends with the application of heat, it is given curves using a semicircular electric iron. The whole iron or only parts of it are used variously to create the curves. Twenty to thirty bamboo higo are bent together in a bunch. 
Step 6: Hole punching and setting the higo
To construct a piece, the maruhigo are placed into holes made in frames. The higo are first set in the lower frame, then in the upper frame. The angle of the hole affects the final appearance and allows for creative play. 
Basket weave: Ajiro-ami
The bottoms and lids of containers incorporate interlacing. The density of the maruhigo mesh and the resultant rhythm creates interest and is unique to Bamboo Work.
The potential of Bamboo Work
Currently, the Shizuoka Bamboo Crafts Cooperative is made up of twelve artisans. They are extending the possibilities of traditional techniques by making not only the standard products such as flower vessels, confectionery containers, lanterns, and also modern lighting and interior items. Wile introducing new work to the world, the Bamboo Work continues to evolve and actively participate in exhibitions and public competitions.   
By: Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University in collaboration with Kyoto Women's University
Credits: Story

Information provided by Shizuoka Take Organization、Shinomiya Yasuhiro, Sugiyama Takahide, The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum

Photo by Minamoto Tadayuki

Text written by Tanaka Atsuko

Exhibition created by Kittaka Misaki and Sakashita Riho Kyoto Women's University Lifestyle Design Laboratory

English translation by Miyo Kurosaki Bethe

Directed by Maezaki Shinya, Kyoto Women's University

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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