Bamboo in Japan

Overview

For centuries, bamboo has fascinated legions of craftspeople, plant lovers and devotees of the handcrafted object. And nowhere is bamboo used more elegantly and distinctly than in Japan. Its presence touches every part of daily life--art, crafts, design, literature, and food. Its beauty enlivens textile designs, restaurant interiors, and holiday festivities.

Artist and writer Nancy Moore Bess set out to discover just how bamboo-crafted objects attained such heights in Japan. Her...

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Overview

For centuries, bamboo has fascinated legions of craftspeople, plant lovers and devotees of the handcrafted object. And nowhere is bamboo used more elegantly and distinctly than in Japan. Its presence touches every part of daily life--art, crafts, design, literature, and food. Its beauty enlivens textile designs, restaurant interiors, and holiday festivities.

Artist and writer Nancy Moore Bess set out to discover just how bamboo-crafted objects attained such heights in Japan. Her travels took her throughout the country and through centuries of accumulated artifacts. After five years of dedicated research and study, she has assembled an unparalleled collection of writings and photographs that uncover the hidden beauty of bamboo.

Bess unveils the boundless uses of this versatile material in Japan, ranging from the most elegant and refined to the most humble. She shows bamboo's applications in the garden and home, in the cherished accessories of the tea ceremony and flower arranging, and in an endless array of crafts from elaborate baskets to colorful kites and dolls.

With illuminating text and over 250 exquisite photographs, illustrations, and artwork, Bess reveals the intricacies and resources of this lovely versatile plant. She explores the Japanese reverence for bamboo's natural beauty, adding immeasurably to our knowledge of the Asian sensibility and lifestyle.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"... a worthy addition to the library of anyone interested in bamboo and its place in Japanese culture." -Orientations

"It's beautifully produced, astoundingly comprehensive, and obviously a labor of love." -Surface Design Journal

"Anyone who has interest in bamboo, bamboo crafts, rituals, or Japanese culture would benefit from owning this beautiful book." -Bamboo: The Magazine of The American Bamboo Society

"A must for any library." -Los Angeles Basketry Guild Newsletter

"... speaks to an American basketry artist's passionate engagement with a ubiquitous Japanese material and, by extension, with Japanese culture." -American Craft

"Beautiful photography makes this book a coffee table star, but the thoughtful scholarship elevates it to the permanent reference shelf." -Oregonian

"A visually stunning book with beautiful layout, extraordinary photographs, and sensitive, well-written text." -Fiberarts

"Part lavish coffee-table book, part illustrated encyclopedia, it is an exceptional blend of beauty and instruction." -Joseph Lapenta, Ikebana International

"A spectacularly beautiful book... Broad in coverage and fascinating to peruse ..." -Choice

"... stunning graphics, photographs and comprehensive coverage of all aspects of the big grass. Recommended." -Kansai Time Out

Donald Ritchie
Text and photos are combined in one of the best-designed books of the year.
The Japan Times
Booknews
If one were to buy one book on bamboo, this might be it since this volume of text and large images addresses so many aspects of bamboo (even if only in Japan): horticultural and processing, Japanese crafts, traditional arts, gardens and architecture, the home, personal accessories, in play, and in celebration, performance and ritual. From "deer scarers" (thick, hollow bamboo poles in gardens which fall to the stone below with a thunk after filling with water) to graceful tea whisks, bamboo is shown to be both versatile and beautiful. Sources for observation and research in Japan, the US, and throughout the world appear in the appendix. The author is a basket maker. Oversize: 9x11<">. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9784770025104
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA
  • Publication date: 8/19/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 11.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

NANCY MOORE BESS is an internationally known textile and bamboo craftsperson. For the past 30 years, she has been creating unique baskets that reflect her research into the cross-cultural, especially Japanese, influences on her craft. Her continuing interest in multicultural art forms led her to explore the structural and aesthetic properties of bamboo. She lectures on basketry and bamboo around the world and is an active member of the American Bamboo Society. Her studio is in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she both weaves and writes.

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Table of Contents

Preface--A View from the Outside 10
Chapter 1 Bamboo in Japanese Culture 12
Language, Literature, and Bamboo 15
Bamboo in Ritual 18
Bamboo as a Design Motif 23
Chapter 2 Bamboo Itself: A Living Resource 26
Horticulture 29
The Cultivation of Bamboo 30
Bamboo Vocabulary 32
Bamboo as Craft Material 34
Processing and Preparation 37
Decorative Techniques 42
Chapter 3 Crafts in Japan 44
Shokunin: Craftspeople in Japan 49
The Evolution of Crafts in Japan 51
The Impact of Mingei 53
A Partnership: Government and the Arts 54
Crafts Represented in Art and Design 57
Chapter 4 Basketry 58
Baskets, Baskets, Baskets 60
Baskets for Ikebana 67
Bamboo Masters--Living National Treasures 68
New and Innovative 70
Chapter 5 Bamboo and the Traditional Arts 74
Seeking Beauty: Wabi, Sabi, Suki, Shibumi 74
Tea Ceremony in Japan 77
Brush to Ink: Calligraphy and Painting 85
Chapter 6 Gardens and Architecture 88
Gardens 91
Architecture 101
Chapter 7 Bamboo in the Home 114
One Space, Many Functions 117
Lanterns and Light Fixtures 121
In the Kitchen 125
Chapter 8 Personal Accessories 130
Japanese Umbrellas 133
Fans 138
Chapter 9 Bamboo and Play 146
A Sense of Play 146
Kites 148
Dolls 152
Fishing 157
Toys 161
Chapter 10 Celebration, Performance, and Ritual 162
Where the Divine and the Worldly Meet 165
Music 174
Traditional Sports 181
Afterword--the Future of Bamboo in Japan 188
Sources for Observation and Research 190
Japan 190
United States 191
International 196
Japanese Historical Periods 197
Notes 197
Glossary 203
Bibliography 208
Index 217
Photo Credits 221
Acknowledgments 223
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