On my first day of this trip, I flew from Haneda to Oita Prefecture in the Southern Island of Kyushu. I drove snowy country roads to meet bamboo artists for our upcoming workshops in Sonoma and San Francisco.
Beppu is known for bamboo crafts started in the late 14th century. During the Edo period (1600–1868) the city flourished as a tourist town and bamboo baskets were popular as regional souvenirs for travelers and also the baskets were used by local people for every day lives.
I visited the Beppu City Traditional Bamboo Crafts Center. Here, free classes are offered throughout a year. The city is encouraging people to continue the traditions.