Beppu bamboo craft is the great basket making the most of bamboo


Beppu Bamboo Weaving, a renowned art craft

Beppu bamboo crafts are produced in and around Beppu City, Oita Prefecture. Bamboo products have been made since ancient times in Oita Prefecture, where a large amount of high quality bamboo is harvested. This traditional craft is made mainly from Madake, a type of bamboo produced in the prefecture. There are various products made from Madake in Japana, such as Osaka Kongo Sudake, Katsuyama Bamboo craft, or Akita Oke/Taru, all of which are slightly different from each other along with the nature of Madake growing in each region.

Beppu Bamboo craft’s manufacturing method has been preserved for many years, and in 1979, it was designated as a traditional craft by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. Beppu bamboo crafts can be classified into more than 200 different weaving techniques, but the main basic techniques are “four-piece weaving,” “six-piece weaving,” “eight-piece weaving,” “Ajiro weaving,” “Gozame weaving,” “Matsuba weaving,” “Kiku-zoko weaving,” and “Rinko”.

Beppu bamboo craft

History of Beppu Bamboo Craft

Beppu bamboo crafts have a long history and are said to have started in the Muromachi period (1333-1573). In the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the industry became a regional industry, and measures were taken to train technicians and promote the industry. Since then, products with value as arts and crafts, rather than mere souvenirs, have been actively produced.

Like other traditional crafts, Beppu bamboo crafts were swallowed by the wave of rapid economic growth and lost demand to inexpensive plastic products. In 1967, Beppu bamboo craftsman Shounsai Ikuno became the first bamboo craftsman to be designated a Living National Treasure. In 1979, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) designated Beppu bamboo crafts as a “traditional craft.

Manufacturing Method & Process


1. Cutting and oil removal

Good quality bamboo that is 3 to 4 years old is cut down from the bamboo grove. The cut bamboo is then boiled in water with caustic soda for 15 minutes, and the oil soaked into the bamboo is wiped off.

2. Drying in the sun

When sun-dried, the oil-removed bamboo turns a beautiful ivory color. Bamboo dried in the sun is called “Sarashi-dake,” and producers of bamboo products mainly purchase this Sarashi-dake for their production.

3. Cutting and Rough Splitting

Sun-dried bamboo is cut to the required length using a tool called “Kikuwari”. The raised joints are shaved off, and the bamboo is split in half along the fibers with a bamboo splitting knife. The halves are then split lengthwise and the process called “ara-wari” is repeated. It may sound like a simple process, but it takes about three years to be able to split the bamboo in a straight and well-balanced manner.

4. Stripping

The cut bamboo is gradually thinned through the process of “rough stripping,” “small splitting,” and “thin stripping. In the rough stripping process, the skin and body are stripped at a ratio of approximately 4:6.

Beppu bamboo craft

5. Finishing the Higo

The thickness of the higo is made uniform using a tool called a suki-higataki, and the width of the higo is aligned by passing the bamboo between two small knives for removing width. Next, the corners are removed with a chamfering knife to create the appropriate bamboo strips for the piece.

6. Bottom Weaving

The most technical part of the bamboo weaving process is the bottom weaving. The difficult part of the bottom knitting is the “rising of the waist,” where the flat surface of the bottom is made into a three-dimensional shape, and this is done by heating the bamboo strips over a fire.

7. Body and Neck Weaving

The body weaving is continued. The weaving is done in different ways, depending on the design and purpose of the work.

8. Finishing the edge and attaching

Finishing the edges completes the knitting process. There are three types of rim finishing: “Kyou-en,” in which the woven strands are used as they are; “Hata-en,” in which bamboo is applied to the rim and secured with bamboo strands or wire; and “maki-en,” in which bamboo or rattan is rolled up. Depending on the work, handles are attached. Blue and white pieces are not painted, so they are completed after this process.

9. Painting

The knitted piece is then dyed by boiling with dyestuff, and the base is dyed. The name of the work is different depending on whether it is dyed or not. The work made from green bamboo is called “Aomono,” the one made from oil-removed bamboo is called “Hakumono,” and the one dyed or lacquered is called “Somemono” or “Kuromono. In addition, the primer-dyed pieces are dried and polished with a cloth. Careful and even pressure is applied, as too much force will scratch the bamboo and cause it to lose its luster. Raw lacquer is used for the lacquered finish, but depending on the finished work, a “rusty finish” using shu-ai lacquer or raw lacquer may be used.

After the lacquered finish is applied, the work is dried in a room made of wood or other material that retains moisture. Lacquer will not dry without the proper temperature and humidity. The dried work is then finished with decorations, etc., if necessary.

Beppu bamboo craft


Many of Japan’s traditional crafts have a history of development rooted in local raw materials. Beppu bamboo craft is a typical example. Bamboo is found in many parts of Japan, but the quality of bamboo in Beppu is the best in Japan. As a result, bamboo crafts have developed. Sugaru bamboo lightning or Gifu lantern are also products that make use of bamboo, especially madake, but again, good quality bamboo can be found in those areas as well. Strictly speaking, however, the characteristics of bamboo vary depending on the climate and other factors. It is one of the charms of Japanese traditional crafts that these differences appear as differences in the products.


Let's share this post !