Japan Travel News

Inside the Atelier By Prairie Stuart-Wolff

Posted on November 20, 2014 within News

Inside the Atelier Contemplating craft in Yufuin.

Yasuhiro and Ayako Takami sit opposite each other on a small area of floor surrounded by stacks of bamboo leaning against the walls.Both are both soft spoken, gentle, and welcoming. Tungsten light and a range of bamboo hues from golden to amber fill the room with a warm glow. A back door opens to an airy patch of woods. Maple leaves, small and green, rustle in the breeze. Yasuhiro sits cross-legged and casts a large swath of canvas over his lap. He takes a blond segment of dried bamboo culm and with a long and narrow square-tipped blade, deftly begins splitting the bamboo into even-width lengths called higo. Across from him Ayako begins threading reeds together.

While Ayako pursued traditional schooling in bamboo arts, Yasuhiro’s is the story of an accidental artist. He fell into bamboo arts through happenstance and a lack of competing pull in another direction. Casting about for something to do, he began his first apprenticeship at age 21. But by his own account, he wasn’t particularly talented. I had “dull hands,” he says. “I couldn’t even make a simple bamboo toy. My teacher even said ‘maybe you’re not cut out for this,’ but I had committed to a three year apprenticeship and decided to at least see it through.”

By Prairie Stuart-Wolff

This is the final in a continuing series of featured articles authored by Prairie Stuart-Wolff from her online publication Cultivated Days.