Hakone Gardens

In January 2023, the central entry gate at Hakone Gardens was refurbished with the help of a grant from Santa Clara County. The gate is registered as a historic building and is listed on the National Register of historic buildings.
The original 1937 gate was designed and constructed by Shinzaburo Nishiura, with his brother Gentaro carving the ornate ornamental elements which make this gate an important cultural property. Read More …

Maple Bridge at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

The San Diego Japanese Friendship Garden had extended its grounds and now occupies much of the gulch below the original garden which was built in 1915. The extensive expansion allowed several structures to be built including 3 bridges in different styles curved, viewing deck and a zig-zag. Minka-Woodworks Inc. was chosen to furnish the bridges over the course of 5 years. The Maple bridge was the first one to be manufactured and installed. Read More …

An Interview with Dale Brotherton

OWNER AND OPERATOR OF TAKUMI COMPANY (Seattle, WA), DALE BROTHERTON, began working in this field in 1978. He spent 61⁄2 years in traditional full time apprenticeship with a well known teahouse carpenter in the San Francisco Bay Area. This apprenticeship was dedicated to concentrated practice with tra- ditional hand tools and learning refined joinery methods. Dale then spent 2 years as a “journeyman” in traditional residential construction in Nagano-Ken, Japan expanding his skills, studying traditional building design and structural layout. With nearly 9 years of intense study accomplished, Dale returned to the USA founding TAKUMI COMPANY. Since then he has remained committed to the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship completing over 100 projects for private customers, institutions and municipalities. Read More …

Roji Tea Garden—A Short Description

…A contemplative garden landscape which invites the guests to experience a tranquil and purposely self-absorbed but silent process. Guests arrive at the tea garden by first walking through a forest on a steep mountain trail, and after some minutes arriving at a quiet landing in the forest surrounded by tall bamboo and a soft green pelt of moss-covered earth, punctuated by water-worn stones and handcrafted bamboo fences.

The whole effect of the tea garden is designed to put the guest in a state of tranquility. Read More …

Heisei Yariganna Thinking (#5)

The yariganna is a rather difficult tool for the beginners to use, and the sharpening requires some different practices compared to sharpening other woodworking blades. There are two types of yariganna: one with a curved sharpening face that was resurrected in the Showa Era (~1926 to 1989), and the other with a straight edge developed by Kezurou-kai Japan. I’ll show you my way of sharpening both of these blades. Read More …

Evolution of the Kezurou Contest in Japan

The planing competitions put on by Kezuroukai USA are about improving our skills as woodworkers. Competitors are not competing against each other, as much as they are competing against themselves.

There are so many small factors that add up to getting a Kanna to perform at it’s best, and it takes dedication to master these skills. Having a way to gage your progress is very helpful. A thin shaving can tell you everything you need to know about the state of your tool.

A blade that can cut a clean 10 micron shaving has no scratch in its edge deeper than 10 microns. Even the size of the throat opening and the flatness of the sole can all be judged in a shaving. Read More …

No Secrets

“NO SECRETS, just how much –pay attention…’’ Imai-san

The challenge and hope of improvement comes with many tangents. Finding focus helps to establish approachable and appropriate practicality. Connecting the elementary dots of practice creates a working framework, a conceptual platform for performing tasks that lead to solutions-not absolute answers. Read More …

TAPPED OUT – Short note on a helpful idea

My short talk/demo about URA DASHI [at the Kezurou-kai USA 2017 event in October] was basically showing what was needed to be able to produce more ‘land’ at the front edge of the backside, ura, of plane blades and chisels. This process is not what ‘tapping out’ sounds like, maybe an incorrect translation. This is not done on western single steel blades, so maybe that’s where the confusion comes from. It is not possible to tap out the hollow grind on the ura side of the blade to establish more land near the cutting edge of the blade. This area is worn away by the repeated sharpening of the blade. Read More …