Bamboo – Tough and flexible

Friday 22nd, April 2016 / 09:29 Written by
Bamboo – Tough and flexible

What is your image of bamboo? Panda munching them, martial arts masters hopping among them in the air in China? Shishi-odoshi in a Japanese garden, with the konking sound to scare deer away? Or floors and pillows made from it?

鹿威しMy neighbor gave me some bamboo sticks. He helped his friends cut them down in their property because they became rampant and intrusive. “Roots were everywhere, lifting fences.” My husband also hates the idea of bamboo spreading in our garden though I would love to have a small Japanese garden with some planted. So we have a pot of whimpy thin bamboo that is not really thriving.

I went to the famous bamboo forest in Kyoto with my daughter. It was early in 竹取物語the morning before hordes of tourists arrived, so it was quiet and serene. A walk through them was an amazing, spiritual experience. The oldest fiction in Japan is about a princess that was found in a bamboo trunk. (Refer to Moon Viewing.) I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had found one, too.

竹の花器Bamboo is incredibly versatile. It is used for fences, cups 茶道具and kitchen utensils, baskets, boxes, vases, musical instruments and toys. Kendo, Japanese martial arts, uses bamboo swords. Sado, Japanese Tea Ceremony, uses Cha-sen, bamboo whisk and Cha-shaku, bamboo spoon. We eat young bamboo shoots. My mother used to cook them with seaweed in broth, with some soy sauce. It is a delicacy in early spring.

I love bamboo for its aesthetic values. Bamboo is one of the popular motif for 東山魁夷 竹林と月尺八art. One of my favorite painting by my favorite artist, Higashiyama Kaii, depicts the moon rising over the bamboo forest. Bamboo is unassuming, elegant, flexible but tough, which I would like to be.

So what shall I do with the bamboo?  I will google and learn how to make fences to begin with.

竹垣

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