On February 14, the disciplinary course “Kyoto Artisans and Their World” met with Kuroda Shogen XIV and visited Kubota Birendo bamboo workshop.
Below is a report on the trip by John Henry Waymack (KCJS34 Spring, Tufts University)
“Last Tuesday, we met with Kuroda Shogen, the 14th generation bamboo craftswoman who makes many different bamboo implements for tea ceremonies. She showed us a number of her works, including incense cases, and incredibly beautiful Ikebana vases! We also got to learn a bit about the process by which these pieces are made, and watched a documentary about her father, and how he made these works.
After that, we went to the Kubota Birendo bamboo workshop to see many different types of screens, and how they were used. The extremely thin ones that were almost transparent were beautiful and incredibly precise! We also learned about how these screens were meant to separate people, and that depending on the position, one person can see through a screen while it would be completely impossible to see through the other side for the other person. Getting to try this out was funny but also so impressive!
Up until the class, I had thought that after being made, these bamboo pieces of art would survive just like any other work of art, however it was explained to us that bamboo is a very delicate material that needs high humidity to remain strong and intact. Because of this, it is very difficult to send bamboo works overseas, to less humid climates than Japan. Knowing this made me even more glad that I got to see such beautiful bamboo works of art while I am studying here!”