We are Kochi-ke: Yoshihiro Yamagishi

What bamboo teaches us

“Ever since I was little, my family and elders told me that our local bamboo grove was the safest place to take shelter during an earthquake. It wasn’t until later on that I learned why–a reason that I now take to heart as an important reminder. Although each bamboo plant seemingly grows independent from one another, they’re actually all connected underground. Bamboo have special stems called rhizomes, which are linked together, creating lands that are so non-erosive they’re often compared to reinforced concrete. That’s why bamboo can withstand strong earthquakes–because they are all supporting each other. In a world where the challenges are relentless, the wise bamboo reminds us that solidarity is power.”

“Although I was determined to continue our family legacy of bamboo artisans that began more than 120 years ago, the reality was…I wanted to quit every single day for the first eight years of my training. I remember feeling like I didn’t know what greater purpose I was serving by completing the repetitive and menial tasks involved in the extremely long production line from collecting raw materials in the mountains to creating usable products. But just when all hope seemed lost, everything changed.”

“‘The work you do is extraordinary. I feel so healed when I see this bamboo.’ Those were the simple words that changed my life–gifted to me from a customer whose home entrance we renovated with a traditional bamboo fence. Extraordinary? Healed? After years of feeling so lost and questioning whether I was doing any good for the world, her words–delivered with such enthusiasm and sincerity–meant everything to me. Until then, all of the hard labor had completely numbed my ability to notice the beauty of bamboo, but her words helped me see it all again. Fast forward to now, I could not be more proud to be the fourth-generation successor of our company Taketora, and I haven’t stopped falling deeper in love with this craft.”

“Its infinite shades of green, smooth texture, fresh clean scent, magical notes that ring when the hollow bamboo bumps each other in the wind…even after all these years, I still get goosebumps whenever I visit our forest. I always look up at the tall, majestic plants–flexible yet firm, wise yet humble, confident yet subtle, independent yet united–and I cannot help but feel like they are speaking to us directly, reminding us what matters in life. Even if it’s just a little bit, if I’m lucky enough to welcome you here someday, I hope you feel it too.”

“We are Kochi-ke (Kochi family)” is all about highlighting the stories of the people who make us proud to call Kochi our home. Whether you are living in Kochi now or have only visited once, you are part of the Kochi family

Yoshihiro is based in the small village of Awa (just over 45 minutes from Kochi City by car), which is home to a unique type of bamboo called torafudake or toratake (tiger bamboo) that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Yoshihiro’s company (@虎斑竹専門店 竹虎(TAKETORA 山岸竹材店)) turns this beautiful and distinctively-patterned material into a variety of products such as cutlery, vases, accessories, slippers and…even a fully-functioning electric vehicle (not for sale, however)!

Taketora official English website: https://www.taketora.co.jp/c/special/english

After a full bamboo immersion with Yoshihiro, how about a delicious seafood lunch at retro Kure Town, located only around 7 minutes from Awa Station by train? Learn more: https://visitkochijapan.com/en/see-and-do/10415
  • We are Kochi-ke: Yoshihiro Yamagishi

  • We are Kochi-ke: Yoshihiro Yamagishi

  • We are Kochi-ke: Yoshihiro Yamagishi