Thanks to sales of the Bell Shakuhachi I was finally able to afford a trip to Japan to harvest my own Madake bamboo. I’ve harvest hundreds of pieces of Madake bamboo in the States going as far back as 2009 and I’d crafted shakuhachi from Madake from Japan as far back as 2008. However, I could never afford a trip to go harvest it in Japan until now. I probably should’ve saved my money, but I got it in me to go! [It’s a good thing I did because COVID 19 broke out shortly after I got back from Japan. It took over a year to get my bamboo shipped to me as a result]. It was an amazing whirlwind of a trip. I left on Christmas, stayed through New Years which is my birthday, and returned mid January.
While there, I lost body weight I couldn’t really spare and was often so exhausted I felt as if I could literally fall over. But what an experience! For this trip, I was fortunate to have a contact in Nara. I also found myself whisked away by new friends to a small grove in Osaka which yielded some wonderful pieces. [I suspect that one of the pieces from this clandestine grove will be the one I copy for the Bell Shakuhachi 2.3~4 “A”]. One of the main reasons I really wanted to go to Japan to harvest was to find 2.3~4 pieces for “A” shakuhachi because many people want this to be the next key for a Bell Shakuhachi.
With that said, I focused on getting 1.8’s and 2.4’s with just a few other lengths/pieces that stood out, demanding that I grab them. I scaled steep anti-erosion walls, encountered a venomous centipede, was confronted by some wild boars, and had a few injuries. In the end it was a big success and I had an amazing time. I was completely at home in the Madake groves in Japan which felt just like the numerous ones I’ve harvested from in the States. Of course, each grove is very different, but Madake groves have a wa or “way”, a spirit. Not unlike people!
All in all, I harvested just over 20 pieces (I’m very picky)! I could’ve probably harvested many more if I wasn’t so particular. However, there were definitely some pieces I would’ve gotten if I had had more time or funds. Nonetheless, it’s good sometimes to be constrained, forcing one to focus their efforts and be discerning. In the end, I hope to not only craft the next shakuhachi to copy for Bell Shakuhachi to offer to you all, but I also hope to offer original bamboo shakuhachi.
One can start to get a sense of why I don’t sell my bamboo shakuhachi to just anyone willing to pay. All of this effort, it demands that I find good homes for my work, dedicated practitioners. I like to get to know people, how long they’ve been playing, and so on, so as to get an idea of their commitment, skill level, and needs. This way I can insure that my works are optimally utilized and not tucked away to collect dust.
Anyway, enough words! Enjoy some choice photos from my trip. I had very little time to snap pictures, and though I brought my camera, I only had time to use my phone camera! The pictures with me in them were taken by my contact in Japan.
Here’s looking forward to the next Bell Shakuhachi 2.3~4 “A”! Who knows, maybe even another 1.8 will join the current Bell Shakuhachi 1.8… RO on friends, Jon~