The handwoven baskets of Shino-bamboo craft
Shino-bamboo baskets are crafted from local bamboo, gathered each year before the snow falls in December. The craftsman strips the bamboo himself, taking care to ensure that the strips are of a uniform width. Because each basket is carefully woven by hand, even a master craftsman can only complete one or two small baskets per day.
Originally a craft of the samurai class, since the Meiji period (1868-1912), farmers have engaged in Shino-bamboo craft in the agricultural off-season. Even now, farmers craft baskets for their own household use as needed.
Shino-bamboo craft continues to prosper as the representative craft of Iwadeyama, with 15 craftsmen working year-round at the Bamboo Craft Art Center.
Three weaving techniques are used in Shino-bamboo craft:
1. Zaru weaving
Horizontal bamboo strips (higo) are woven around paired vertical bamboo strips in this technique, which is unique to Iwadeyama. Baskets are woven so that the outside of the bamboo becomes the inside of the basket. The resulting slippery surface is ideal for washing rice, and this technique is mainly used in crafting colanders for that purpose.
2. Hexagonal weaving
Thin, soft suzu bamboo is used for this hexagonal weave. This colander, called a mekago, is used for washing oysters and mushrooms because dirt can pass through the large holes in the weave.
3. Ajiro weaving
Using this spiral weave, crafters make a deep colander called an ajirozaru, originally used to make strained bean paste. Fewer vertical higo (bamboo strips) are used to create a rough texture.
Shino-bamboo craft collection