Rare 50+ Year Old Madaké Bamboo

Harvested 1968 - 1972

Each winter I travel to Japan for the purpose of harvesting and otherwise acquiring bamboo. Some time ago, I had the good fortune to acquire a supply of rare madaké that was over half a century old and exceptional quality for shakuhachi. This madaké was the complete stockpile of bamboo belonging to a retiring shakuhachi maker in Osaka. Noticing that each culm had a small piece of newspaper stuffed into the top to retard the drying process, my wife Kayo removed one of these scraps of newsprint to discover that the date imprinted on it was 1968. Inspecting several other pieces at random revealed that this bamboo had been cured for 50 years or more without having cracked. It showed no signs of insect infestation, nor experienced any other damage. Each culm was in pristine condition, having a beautiful patina indicating its age, and material that was distinctively hard and solid. This is quite unique as many shakuhachi in Japan today are made with bamboo cured for an amount of time insufficient to allow the internal fibers to stabilze and harden properly. Such instruments are prone to cracking as the bamboo expands and contracts as it experiences changes in temperature and relative humidity.

The date on the newpaper pictured is Showa 45, Shigatsu Ju San Nichi (April, 13, 1970)

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