【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Katsuyama Bamboo Work (Okayama Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Katsuyama Bamboo Work (Okayama Prefecture)~


Katsuyama bamboo work



【Production area of Katsuyama bamboo work】

Katsuyama area, Maniwa City, Okayama Prefecture



【What is Katsuyama bamboo work?】

A bamboo craft product produced in the Katsuyama area of Maniwa City, Okayama Prefecture.


The most well-known examples are colanders and baskets called “souke” or “souki.”

Even if you say colander in one word, it is usually used in various situations.


For example, the following are used in everyday life.

・Colander used for draining after washing rice

・A colander for hanging under the eaves to prevent the cooked rice from spoiling in the summer


It is also frequently used in agricultural work.

・Colander for holding grains such as rice, wheat, and corn

・Colander for transporting harvested vegetables and fruits


The four colanders introduced here are famous as representative products.

In addition, craftsmen continue to create a wide variety of products that meet the needs of the times, such as “bread baskets”, “handbag baskets that can be used like bags when going out”, and “flower vases”.


In August 1974, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Katsuyama bamboo work】

・Uses Madake bamboo harvested around Maniwa City as a material

Bamboo crafts are made not only in Maniwa City, but all over Japan.

In general, “mousouchiku” and “hachiku” are often used, but Katsuyama bamboo work uses locally collected bamboo.


・Made as green bamboo with minimal processing

Traditionally, craftsmen take advantage of the quality of the material and use green bamboo itself.

This makes the product durable and easy to use.


On the other hand, bamboo crafts made in other production areas often use madake that have been boiled or roasted.

Katsuyama Take Zaiku uses green bamboo as it is, so craftsmen can make the best use of the natural beauty of green bamboo.

You can also enjoy the colors that change over time.



【History of Katsuyama bamboo work】

The origin of Katsuyama bamboo work is not clearly known.

It is assumed that it was manufactured about 160 to 170 years ago.

The reason is that the document confirms its existence.

In the ancient documents of the Yamatani family, said to have been written in 1860, and in the petition for a liquor license, which is said to have been submitted in 1877, there is a description of a bamboo basket called ‘Hari-soki’. In addition, there is a description of “kame sofuke” that was used to transport grains.


Since it is a daily item, there are few things that were used at that time and still exist.

However, according to the above-mentioned old documents, we know that Katsuyama bamboo craft products existed as of 1860.

It is also said that some families invited bamboo craftsmen to their homes and asked them to make as many products as they needed for the year.

Based on these facts, it is highly likely that they were widely used as daily necessities for the common people and indispensable for agricultural work.


Since it was an indispensable item in daily life, the area where it was sold expanded as the times changed, and eventually the name came to be known all over Japan.



【Production process of Katsuyama bamboo work】

①Collecting and washing bamboo

As mentioned above, the craftsmen use unprocessed madake as much as possible to make their products.

The quality of the madake is directly linked to the quality of the product, so it is very important to carefully select “which bamboo to use as the material.”


The growth (thickness and height) of bamboo stops after about a year, after which the color and hardness change.

It is said that the most suitable material for bamboo work is the highest quality bamboo that has acquired sufficient luster and elasticity after 3 to 5 years.

In addition, November and December are the best months for cutting bamboo, as there is little damage from insects.


Using a special saw (bamboo saw), the craftsmen cut the bamboo into pieces of 1 to 5 meters.

After cutting, clean the dirt with a scrubbing brush and you’re done.


②Bamboo splitting


Splitting bamboo means “splitting bamboo” according to the size of the product to be made.

In fact, bamboo splitting is the work that tests the craftsman’s skills the most among all the processes.

As evidence of this, it is said that it takes at least two to three years to fully master bamboo splitting.


In addition, it is done in the following three orders.


・Rough cut

Splitting the cut bamboo into two using a special hatchet.


・Small portion

The process of splitting the bamboo into two pieces by splitting them into smaller pieces.

The thin bamboo cut into small pieces is used for the bones and the green part used for the final finish.

Craftsmen must be careful about the sharpness of the hatchets used in small pieces, as it directly affects the gloss of the finished product.


・Higo making

The process of adjusting the thickness of the bamboo for various uses is called “hechiri”.

The thin bamboo sticks that are only a few millimeters thick are called “higo”.

Higo is used to increase the strength of the product.




The weaving work is done in the order of “Shikake → Nakagumi → edge making”.



The work of deciding the frame.

Craftsmen base their decisions on traditional sizes that have been handed down from generation to generation.

Once the frame is decided, the vertical “higo” and the horizontal “bones” are passed through accordingly.



It is the work of passing the “higo” through the “bone”.

Through Nakagumi, craftsmen create various patterns.


・Border making

Azalea wisteria harvested locally in Katsuyama is used to create a border for the finish.

Only products that use azalea wisteria are considered traditional crafts.

If the edge is finished with wire, it is treated as a craft rather than a traditional craft.


In addition, the weaving method mainly used in Katsuyama bamboo work is “Gozame weaving”.

Since bamboo has a blue part and a white part, it is a method of weaving each “higo” alternately.

Although it looks very simple, it creates a tasteful look.



Once the final checks are completed by the hands of craftsmen, the Katsuyama bamboo work is completed.

One of the charms of this product is that it smells like madake.





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