It was a privilege to have been joined in the bamboo lantern making ritual (if you will), at Hattoji International Villa this winter. From the beginning of the process to the end, it was hands-on, lots of new things learned and many, many laughs! The woods welcomed us as we began the process with harvesting bamboo stalks from its belly. We picked old, dry stalks to cut down. It was beautiful to see their smooth, hollow interiors become visible each time a stalk was successfully detached. We cut each one to a manageable transportable size then loaded them all onto the waiting ute to be moved to an open space behind the Villa where we cleaned, cut and again cleaned them, working beside an open log fire, as it was a pretty cold day! And a wonderfully crisp and clear day too. Coupled with the extensive valley view unrolled before us... priceless. As we worked, joking and laughing, each one of us contributing to a different part of the process, it was rather wonderful to see the lantern coming together; seeing the different height each beam was cut to and assembling in my mind how the finished product would look. We also made sure to drill holes in each bamboo piece after it was cut, for the string lig
hths to be able to be housed in the bamboo hollow. After all was said and done, after we`d gathered bamboo stalks, breaked for a delicious and warming soba & broth lunch, regrouped around the fire to finish prepping the bamboo pieces, we stopped for tea and snacks. The expanse of the serene valley wrapping itself around us in a panoramic embrace. If only we could stay there all afternoon and into the nighttime enveloped in the landscape and still be there when the numerous stars would surely appear... but we had a project to complete! I let my mind wander and linger, drinking in my surroundings, and then joined the others as they loaded the `processed` pieces once again, onto the ute. This time we brought them to be stored beneath the Villa patio where they`ll remain all through winter and spring before being ready to be worked again come summer. It was truly and honor to have participated in this process and project! It was unforgettable and will remain with me as a one of the highlights of my travels in Japan! Thank you Tetsuya-san and Hattoji Villa!