After the first week in Tokyo, I stayed three weeks in Yufuin, a famous thermal town of Oita-ken in northern Kyushu.
In order to meet local people to help me organising madake bamboo harvest, I worked as a volunteer in an associative restaurant. That was for me the ideal place to get the good contacts and to be again in the rural daily life of Japan that I love so much (including of course the daily bath in Onsen !)
Thanks to the help of Ryuji, owner of Harappa cafe, I could start harvesting from the first days and then on all the days off following…
During my days in the bamboo grove of the small Tsukahara village on a high plateau above Yufuin, I could meet many of the neighbours and had great exchanges with them. I thank them all for their support and generosity.
For instance, I found myself introducing shakuhachi and it’s construction in the small village school, met a ceramist whom deceased husband was making shakuhachi with that same bamboo I was harvesting; she offered me some of his dryed bamboo. I also met a carpenter specialist in moving minka houses (traditional thatched roof farms) who offered me a bunch of 300 years old susudake (smoked bamboo) and most of all, I met the Yoshioka family with whom I spent great moments.
That was a lot of work to select, dig out, clean and prepare the bamboos and then build the woden boxes to send them to France by ship…
When my mission was finished and the two 30 kilos boxes of fresh bamboo shipped; I found some time to visit Beppu’s bamboo-craft centre dedicated to bamboo weaving, a tradition very alive in the area. I am fascinated with this craftsmanship for years; so I was happy and honoured to stay for hours watching at a masterclass given by a master specialised in the “freestyle” baskets.
Then, I was back in Tokyo for a last day at my capoeirists friend’s place before leaving Japan, the heart full of gratitude, a bag full of tools and materials and an empty wallet !
When back in France in Paris, I of course found my train reservation cancelled and no trains to go back home…but this is another story.
Welcome in France !