Purpose of this site:

Hello, and welcome.

First, I want to thank you for visiting my blog.

My name is Edgar and I’m currently creating a photo-journal of my progress in creating a Japanese table called a kotatsu.

In addition to this I will also be attaching relevant videos and images that inspire me in this endeavor. I hope you enjoy what you see and decide to interact, I sincerely look forward to creating an on-going rapport regarding this project. Hopefully you will take the time to visit my investment project over at kickstarter.com and contribute so that I may be able to better achieve what I sincerely believe can be a profitable (both creative and monetary) experience for all involved.

(Header image provided by Tanaka Juuyoh)

39 thoughts on “Purpose of this site:

  1. I’ve been fascinated with Japanese carpentry ever since I found out that their methodology places great emphasis in both the practical, but perhaps more importantly, the aesthetic. Take a look at the level of detail in the craft. Particularly take note of the last 30 seconds where the builder uses a taper to allow the movement of the two jointed pieces in solely one direction, simply put: (すばらしい!) amazing!

    But these techniques are not confined to museums, they are also used to construct homes! It may seem tedious and perhaps even inefficient to some to do it by hand, but as the director says–over the loud sound of a saw–with a large smile, ‘he’s having fun’ (boku mo tanoshii desu ne).

    • Dear Edgar!
      Greetings from Shizuoka!
      Thank you so much for your long message!
      Your blog is certainly off the beaten tracks!
      Great work that a lot of people will enjoy!
      If you need anything directly from Japan just tell me as one omy my many jobs is to export anything from thios country!
      Take good care of yourself and keep me informed on your progress!
      Best regards,
      Robert-Gilles

  2. So, before I get ahead of myself with more videos I’d like to take the time to discuss what a kotatsu is so that I can segue into my progress on here. A Kotatsu (炬燵) is a low height Japanese table that (in modern uses) utilizes an inverted electric heater in the center.

    The heater itself is held in place by a bracket bolted onto the internal structure; this is done for two reasons; first it creates the actual structural integrity of the table, if made properly (ideally using the techniques seen above) they are resistant to both tension and torsion in all directions. Second this allows for the table to posses a removable table top to place the futon–which acts as the insulator of the heat–over the table; this also means that it can be used as a regular table after winter. After all, the kotatsu’s main purpose was to be the sole source of heat in a home–and often remains as such in many Japanese homes.

    Here is a visual representation (image obtained from Lucky Hill’s WordPress blog) of what it should look like inside:

    The kotatsu initially used a type of charcoal pit underneath the home’s elevated wooden floor as the heat source. This then would allow for the table to be placed over the pit:

    It should be noted that a kotatsu’s presence in Japan is centuries old, there are images of a kotatsu in art within museums and textbooks depicting the significance of it in daily life.

    4
    5

    As seen above the kotatsu is in actuality the center piece of the home, and as I found out long ago, where guests are directed to when visiting a Japanese home. It serves as a place where the majority of the days normal activities are held: socializing, eating, or just enjoying the simple pleasures of tea and a gaze.

    3

  3. Happy New Years (likely belated), followers. I wish you all the best!

    Here’s what I was looking at while working on my year-round tan, and putting ideas together. While enjoyable, I wish I was out in the water with my classic nose rider!


  4. Right, so some *updates regarding the Kotatsu project:

    – Mark I Kotatsu (1.0) was built and assembled on the 27th of
    December and went through a 4-day trial period with
    success.

    – Mark I Kotatsu (2.0) has reached about a 50% progress status, now
    currently awaiting heater and misc. parts to arrive from Japan
    (delays expected)

    – Mark I Kotatsu project has been accepted by Kickstarter.com (woo!)
    and will soon enter Phase I (Financing), an ad with my proposal
    and rewards listing will be uploaded within the
    coming days! Stay tuned!

    – Progress shots and trial shots of 1.0’s will be uploaded soon!

    *Sorry for the weird text format, WordPress auto re-aligns my text.

  5. Delays!!!

    My modem finally gave up the ghost and I’ve been without internet until this afternoon.

    Its wasn’t an entire loss, though, I did manage to focus my entire attention on 2.0’s design and improvements. Progress was made; so it might have been for the best after all.

    So, enough talk: lets see the goods, yeah?

    Day I (after blue-prints/design schematics/market research was complete):


    (Outcome of a bit of QC)


    (Buying materials and tools)


    (Total haul covered the big cart entirely!)


    (Putting materials into my ‘canyonero,’ I didn’t really need to drop the rear seats after all. I guess that sort of makes up for the 13MPG average.)

    Stay tuned for part II.

  6. Update: Leg design mock up

    So I’ve been gong flat-out on putting the new ideas into practice for 2.0 while trying to filter through my images of 1.0, without much success. A lot of them are incredibly dark and I’m entirely to blame for that; I prefer low-lighting settings, particularly in my home and my eyes have adjusted to that setting so when I shot videos or took pictures the lighting seldom appears as I see it.

    Anyhow, there will be some images of 1.0 coming, but for now I just want to show you the techniques I have used (and adapted from those seen in the videos above) to build this kotatsu; this is 2.0’s mock up/practice leg and table side.

    Enjoy!

    Vimeo doesn’t want to embed so follow you’ll have to follow the link:

    I want to note that the leg/side demo seen is my second run, ever–if you look closely you can see the first in the background–and it works exceptionally well (structural, snug and tight but able to move in only one direction); and considering it was all done by hand: a cordless drill, dove tail saw, chisel and a classic 11” file. And subsequently a few cuts, splinters and bruises.

    I want to capture this process soon and upload on here and include into my kickstarter video, but since I’m a one man operation its kind of hard to zoom as I work on it.

    By contrast here is how it is done with a table saw/tenon jig, the results are about the same if I’m honest, though if I had the time to sand all of my demo pieces I’d say I could get it to look as tidy/square. I intend to purchase both when/if I go into Phase II (consumer production). Have a look:

    http://www.woodsmith.com/magazine/extras/173/tenons-on-the-table-saw/

  7. 1.0’s trial run update!

    My Mark I Kotatsu 1.0 was a mock-up for the prototype (2.0) I’m going to use to launch my project, this is a pre-prototype to use as a basis to improve upon (dimensions/materials); these are images I captured of that 4-day trial period.






    (Kotatasu 1.0 assembled and in use)

    (Kotatsu 1.0 heater on!)

  8. Mark I 2.0 development update.

    So the above is 1.0, now Id like to show you what you can expect 2.0 to look like, she is currently sitting in my living room at about 65%, the wood for the table-top (douglas fir) is being planed and glued as we speak. I still need to make the mortise and tenons (as seen in the video I uploaded) into the legs, but I finished putting dowels inside each of the internal pieces so this should give you an idea. (*Note I’m 1.81m so I made my legs a bit taller and the table is wider than what is normally seen in Japan, though I will be able to make them any height/width when I take orders.) Have a look:










    (note: the book is where the heater unit would be attached; red corresponds to my blue prints)

    I like the look that Douglas Fir has when it is left unstained, but treated with multiple coats of Tung oil which will make it water-proof and have the look that I’m looking for.

  9. Kickstarter.com reward list.

    This is the reward list I was thinking of submitting:

    $1+ (Arigatou): My sincere gratitude expressed in an email with a seasonal themed e-card for making a contribution, name listed as sponsor/investor on website and product pamphlet. And you will be entered to into a drawing to win a Fukubukuro (Japanese Lucky bag!).

    $5+ (Arigatou Plus): Hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor/investor on website and product pamphlet. And will be automatically entered to win (1 of 3) a 6” scale kotatsu

    *$5-25: Hand made kotatsu table origami made with washi, name listed as sponsor/investor on website and product pamphlet

    $10-25 (Arigatou gozaimashita): Hand written letter of appreciation, assortment of Japanese snacks*, name listed as sponsor/investor on website and product pamphlet.And will be automatically entered to win (1 of 3) a 6” scale kotatsu

    $35-60 (Doumo arigatou gozaimashita): Wabi Sabi ocha cup (Made In Japan), Japanese snacks, hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor/investor on website & product pamphlet. And will be automatically entered to win a (1 of 3) 6” scale kotatsu

    *$65-100 (Honto ni arigatou gozaimashita): Cast Iron tea pot trivet (Made in Japan) and Japanese snacks, name listed as sponsor/investor on website & product pamphlet. And you will be automatically entered to win (1 of 3) a 6” scale kotatsu

    $120-250 (Honto ni arigatou gozaimashita deluxe!): Hand-crafted wooden sign (Made in USA) with your desired inscription or 6” scale kotatsu, Japanese snacks (poki/kit-kat etc…), hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor/investor on website & product pamphlet

    $300-350 (Kampai!): Hand-crafted wooden sign (Made in USA) with your desired inscription or 6” kotatsu, Wabi Sabi ocha cup x 2, Wabi Sabi sake cup x 2, Japanese snacks (poki/kit-kat etc…), hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor/investor on website & product pamphlet

    $450+ (Yatta!): Mark I Kotatsu (+S/H), Wabi Sabi ocha cup x 2, pack of Japanese snacks (poki/kit-kat etc…), hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor/investor on website & product pamphlet

    $1000+ (Yatta deluxe!): All of the above + tour and demonstration of operation grounds + Investors Luncheon

    *Japanese Snacks: Japanese Strawberry/Framboise Kit-kat, choco/Strawberry Pocky, Ramune soda. I’m open to suggestions but these are what I had in mind. I’ll take a vote when this gets launched.

    I really wanted to try and include the origami option, but the truth is that after 8-hour days working on building a table my hands are so tired that I wouldn’t posses the ability to make anything even remotely presentable, and for that reason I’d have discount it as an option. Maybe I’ll include a few washi in the letters for others to have a go at it themselves? I should have images of the cup, trivet, sake cup when the heater comes in from Japan.

    My senbei has been removed as an option, while they came out pretty good they have an incredibly short shelf-life, after about an hour after air drying them they taste stale–regardless of placing them in or out of a container. I then tried my hand at dango, and the problem with was that it was perishable if not kept cold, so shipping is out of the question. But, I will say this, my raspberry flavored dango were quite refreshing when served cool–I made the dough with raspberry sauce, and then served them with a raspberry sauce. My yaki-dango needs work, mainly a better tare; shoyu-honey isn’t that great. I made one batch with ocha instead of plain water and it had mixed results.

    The mini kotatsu is a bit funny, it won’t have a detachable top. But I have an image of it in my head and it looks exactly like a wooden nigiri plate (zushi geta?) with 4 legs instead of 2, and when I test out the parts how I want them lined up it looks like that, too; so maybe I should advertise it as having dual purposes! Haha! But I really wanted it to be used as an ornate holder-piece for tea, something like how this is used:

  10. I got a missed call message on Saturday from 213 number (LA), since I dismiss unknown numbers I thought nothing of it. Except I got another on Monday from that very same number, apparently my package has been damaged in transit from Japan. I was told to contact the sender and UPS to place a claim as it has been deemed a total loss.

    A rant using a select choice of words would normally follow but, I’m trying to maintain my composure so I tried to place my focus on this project and channel my frustration positively. Here is what came out, this is my first and only time drawing manga… or animated manga, or well whatever this is. I wanted to link in my ad as an add-on to my spot/pitch video:

    http://megaswf.com/serve/2002738
    (Note:Right click video and un-click loop)

    K-sketch is a fun program, albeit terribly buggy. I lost my initial file (3 hours!), then had to remove several actions to get this final re-do to work. Enjoy!

    So, now I have to secure a refund and then try to obtain another heater, also the weather has been most unkind as of late so the table-top has been placed on hold until the rain/moisture/humidity decreases enough to get back to work. Thermal expansion and moisture/water retention is your enemy when trying to align and glue together several pieces of wood.

  11. Update!

    I’m still trying to acquire a refund for my loss/damaged goods after submitting my claim, but I think I found a better source for my goods. Unfortunately it will still require a delay to get here since they are still being purchased and shipped from Japan. (If I had the capacity I’d reverse engineer the simplistic looking technology and sell them here in N. America. I can’t believe that the S/H alone is just as much as the product itself… insane!)

    More on that later.

    But I wanted to share these recently acquired ads, amusingly they suggest to me that there is a demand for a taller kotatsu even in Japan; as I said I’m ~1.81m and therefore I had to build mine with the dimensions to suit my stature, but take a look at these kotatsu ‘high heels’:


    So maybe 2.0 might be less authentic (dimension-wise) but is evidently more desirable and practical for both domestic (N. America) and Japanese markets? 1.0 stood at 15” before placing the removable table-top and I kept on knocking it over, also the heat radiating underneath was far too intense for my legs when sitting upright; I seriously had to keep it off unless I was laying down or on the zaisu. Sitting on the zaisu (really just my un-bolted computer chair) required to be placed near the edge of the futon as I would frequently knock the entire table over if I moved about underneath.

  12. Update!

    Video editing is underway:

    Refund should be completed sometime this week, all that is left is to order it after that this should be 85% complete and ready to be launched on KS. But since I’m doing the editing myself without any idea what I’m doing its really up in there when it will be ready. Lets see how this pans out, I have a few ideas that I want in it but over all I just want the product to do all the talking.

  13. Thank you, Robert-Gilles for your kind response (you’re my first comment!), and your generous offer; I’ll definitely keep you in mind for future transactions!

    I have some update stuff to upload and the last part of my Market Research: I finally went to see the ‘competition’s’ (Marukai Japanese Super Market) product now that I have completed, barring some sanding and oiling, 2.0 and well… I will try to maintain a level of self-imposed modesty and solely allow the images to speak for themselves.

    First, here are a few teaser shots of mine (2.0), literately the minute that I assembled it and stood it up–unglued and held only by the mortise and tenons/interior dowels–and was test fitting the table-top (please excuse the scattered tools and the lamp; my camcorder doesn’t shoot stills well, they are always fuzzy and dark):




    *Dimensions
    Table: 109.2cm x 109.2cm x 47cm (43”x 43”x 18.5”)
    Table-top: 114.3 cm x 114.3cm (45”x 45”)

    A more thorough review of 2.0 and nicer shots to come! I can stand on it, step on top of it as it is, I even did a back spin on it given how stout it is. I’m very satisfied with the outcome.

  14. Market Research update II.

    Preface: As I said I’m going to remain objective (as much as possible) and allow you the readers and investors to draw any conclusions.

    As I mentioned above I went to Marukai Japanese Super Market in Costa Mesa, after going to Mitsuwa for a quick look at the new inventory and products and chatting up a few locals about it. I picked up some Furikake to play around with when I got home.

    Now, when I arrived at the Marukai I was somewhat startled to believe it was an actual Japanese Market, as I had only been to Mitsuwa in Costa Mesa and Once to little Tokyo in LA. First was the smell, it smelled more like a Chinese 99Ranch, and rather than Japanese patrons and staff like at the Mitsuwa there were… a more mixed variety. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and kept my profile low looking for an assembled kotatsu as seen on their website. I wasn’t naive enough to expect it to be in a make-shift chanoma bordered by Shoji with a futon on it, but at the very least I expected an assembled one (a tenjibutsu to be used for promotional use), but as I scoured the entire store with no success I decided to retrace my steps. As I was making my way past every isle I had passed in my previous circumvention I noticed a woman stocking the shelves.

    I took a chance and assumed she was Japanese and asked her if they carried any Kotatsu as I couldn’t find any. Luckily she was, and after a brief conversation trying to establish that I was in fact after a heated table (being a Spaniard I’m likely not the first thing you think of when you think about Kotatsu) she walked me across the store asking me what size I wanted, to which I replied ‘Zenbu, onegai.’

    I then started to think I may have said something incorrectly as I noticed we were going near the front exit of the store and I thought I was being escorted out (Market Research isn’t exactly espionage is it?!); but she directed me to the side corridor of the store where the employee toilets were and pointed towards these boxes:




    I tried to hide my disappointment, as both an observer and a Market Share rival, I wanted to see them up close (those plastic legs look so flimsily even on the ads) and the table top looks like it would collapse if you tried putting anything over 40 pounds on it. When I regained my composure I asked ‘Tenjibutsu doko desu ka?’ ‘Nai,’ was her response. I looked over the box some more to see if I could at least get a peek of it as I didn’t want to ask her to open a package I had no intetnion of buying. None were observed.

    She mentioned that ‘all Japanese people know that these only come in two sizes,’ perhaps being sincere or just her failed attempts to try and close a sale, I then simply pointed to the ‘Made In China’ on the box and said with a lamenting ‘Demo, Oka-chan.’

    <img src=" ” alt=”” />

    Her face did the ‘Shikata ga nai’ thing I have seen and she says that no one could afford Japanese made tables, though through my personal research I find that most kotatsu and heaters even in Japan are made in China/Malayasia/Singapore. Very few, outside of an Onsen Ryokan of course, are made from actual wood. And even then they are made using inferior carpentry skills and veneered and pressed plywood (wrapped in faux wood-trim vinyl), relying on screws and ill-placed brackets with no actual structural integrity. I know this because 1.0 was made using these same techniques and materials, which is what led to further refine 2.0’s design.

    I muttered ‘Deshō. Arigato, oka-chan.’ bowed and left the store. (We may be Market rivals vying for the same Market share, but I still respect them!)

    Here are pictures I found on the net of the interior and heater for this kotatsu and the picture within the ad Marukai/SunGoldUSA (the latter houses a Chinese/Mandarin call center only in El Monte, CA, as I found out) have for their larger table for a retail price of $280 (US) before tax and shipping:



    (41.75×29.5×14.5inch)

    Draw your own conclusions, friends.

  15. Update… of sorts.

    I received a notice this afternoon that the heater just shipped from Japan, so perhaps another 2-3 weeks before it arrives? (Zannen, ore wa samui desu!) Unfortunately the artisan goods will have to be procured at a later time, why? Logistical issues that I will spare you readers of…

    I’m trying to build ideas for my ad and I’m editing the footage that I have now to see what’s left to add into it; this is mainly taking up most of my time, though I get to spend time with my kotatsu–extended trial period–and in the process I’m practicing calligraphy to make signs for the ad and preparing for the prizes (their isn’t much I want to show at this moment, but there is a shot of my work in my Vimeo demo; Kanji is incredibly difficult!). It can be quite messy if you are making your own sumi (ink), too. I mixed on another table, away from the kotatsu (still bare wood at this point) for obvious reasons.




    I’m in my mid 20’s now, but I seriously had a double-take moment when I saw some of these shots. It was almost like looking at myself 14 years ago. Wishful thinking? Perhaps, but I thought so, and still do as I look them now.

    Speaking of Wishful Thinking:

  16. Update 2.0 pictures!







    This will likely be my last update on 2.0 until the video is finished and 2.0 is sanded, oiled and fitted with the heater.

    I had some shots of me eating Niku-jaga and Katsu curry on on it, also some of me standing and sitting on top of it. but like most shots made inside they are too dark and blurry. Maybe I’ll try to play with the settings a bit.

  17. Made where?

    As I mentioned earlier, most kotatsu products, even in Japan, are outsourced to other countries. I recently managed to locate older models in an attempt to procure Japanese goods. However, when I asked the retailer for the labels and pertinent information he presented the following:


    So, it isn’t that Japan has recently decided to outsource due to the Yen’s strength after all, in 2004 the Yen hovered around 115 ¥:1 USD. What I want to know is how far back I would have to go before I found a unit that was actually made in Japan? I guess you can add Indonesia to the aforementioned list.

  18. Contributions

    I wanted to mention that while I’m not allowed to state my charitable intentions, should I reach full funding, on my Kickstarter ad (which I fully respect), I’m certainly not bound to such stipulations here. My intention is to donate 10% of future sales under the donators names (not just mine) to an ongoing relief fund for the victims of Fukushima–I was deeply moved when I saw how relieved a family who had evacuated their homes barefoot were when they were personally delivered shoes in a shelter by this relief fund. Since then this person has made a series of trips back to Fukushima and Minamisanriku with similar efforts. I will come in contact with the individual in question and see what can be done and inform donators of the details when I attain them.

    Also I’d like to make another donation and be able to promote the ‘Save Japan’ relief fund made by the Motorsports community, it was created last year and promoted by professional Japanese drivers in various forms of MotorSports.

    http://www.js-style.com/savejapan/index.html

  19. Kotatsu unconfined!

    I came across this image on Flickr and actually laughed; its hard to see, but these Tokyo University students set up a kotatsu outside the campus building–including a padded tatami mat and enough drinks and snacks to see them through the night. I kept this in mind when I was refining the specs (structural) for 2.0… well that and footage of a Drift Matsuri I saw when I was still in highschool; the unknown drivers were unsatisfied with the mock-up ‘tire table’ that were seen scattered throughout the pits, so they brought an actual kotatsu, futon and cup ramen for them to enjoy during the 24 hour track event. Its a pity countless of my HDD have died since then and I have no way to regain said footage. If I remember correctly, removed bucket seats acted as zaisu!

    I like the idea of traveling outside with a kotatsu. And so do these guys:

    Here is another image of researchers of a Solar eclipse under a kotatsu out in the snow, its from a removed article on Mainichi News titled ‘Kotatsu help melt the ice.’

    Maybe during hanami I might take mine, and a bottle of sake out to see it. I miss not having a sakura tree outside my house.

  20. Back to school!

    This is just amazing, I have no formal training in woodworking nor do I possess any previous carpentry skills prior to building the Mark I series kotatsu; so for me this was like being shown ‘sensei’ at work. ‘Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!’ (素晴らしい!) were what raced though my head as I smiled watched the 3 video.

    This is seriously worth watching, Edo-period techniques and years of craftsmanship–you have to admire jiisan’s dexterity at his age–just shine through this video(s):

    I’m seriously motivated to replicate a few of his tools, should this project advance successfully. They look so simple, but they are effective and possess a wabi-sabi charm to them; something even the most expensive power tool on earth couldn’t buy. I already have my eyes on a few kanna. (If I’m honest I find the sound of power tools overbearing and annoying after about 10-15 minutes.)

  21. Kotatsu unconfined Pt. II

    So, as I mentioned earlier I have an inclination and have built a kotatsu (note: 2.0, images above) that I can travel outdoors with. As I thought about it more I wondered: I’m sure I’m not alone… Hey, what would a restaurant that catered to an outdoor kotatsu ambiance look like?

    After some research I came across Sanzoku in Iwakuni, definitely my kind of place:



    So now I–and subsequently anyone else reading this–know while kotatsu is typically found indoors:


    Keep in mind it has also firmly established itself to an have equally enjoyable and inviting presence outdoors:



    I’ve read some reviews online and many say that its quite the hotspot and a local favorite for yakitori, and is best enjoyed during Spring for hanami as the outdoor dining area is surrounded by Sakura trees.

    If you’re in area take a look at their site to be further enticed:

    http://www.irori-sanzoku.co.jp/

  22. Made in China strikes again!

    The heater unit arrived on Friday and after inspecting it I can, once more, confirm why I have a distaste for Chinese made products. Over all it functions, but the problem is the engineering… or rather lack thereof; Its as though they place absolutely no forethought into their designs at all, and place all of their collective resources in mass-producing them in volume. Quality Control is probably an afterthought, at best.

    I had a narrative running in my head when I was trying to find a solution to this:

    Worker: What good is a four-sided triangle for?
    Plant manager: Doesn’t matter, but I need 10,000 by the end of your shift!

    Update

    I got the heater thing sorted, it took a bit of drilling and chisel work, but it works as I had originally intended. I measured the dimensions 10 times (no joke) before I got to work, and as a result the internal housing for the heater is secure; the outlet lead in and the temperature knob interface are on the same side as the mounting side–this is what I meant about thoughtless designs/engineering.

    Anyhow the housing is incredibly secure, it didn’t even need the screws on it to remain suspended upside down. There is less than a piece of papers width between the 2 adjacent panels and the heater; I had to slide the heater in from the top and into place. I placed the screws on of course, but that, it seems, is more a formality than a necessity. I shaped some shrouding for the heater out of tempered wood paneling–I got various long strips of it for for free when I bought my wood. Its incredibly odd stuff, its fire-resistant, but it also has a flaky type of cardboard inside; one that emitted a distinct chocolate smell as I drilled into it. I’m not sure if it was an intentional feature, but I don’t like chocolate myself, so it kind of struck me as a weird innovation for choco-philes… is there really a market for scratch-sniff wood paneling?

  23. Update

    I have used 2.0 for 48 hours straight (I left it on while I slept, but it has an auto shut-off temp sensor) to see if there were any flaws or unforeseen consequences I could encounter during prolonged use. And I’m relieved to say that everything gets the green light, that isn’t to say there aren’t improvements I want to make. but as it stands it its a functional prototype. Here are few improvements I have in mind:

    – The internal pattern/panels aren’t actually necessary as a structural support due to the stout side panel and leg design, so I might revamp the lay out to only accommodate and house the heater so as to prevent obstruction underneath.

    – I’m definitely going to continue to look for Japanese made kotatsu heaters, but for the time being the Malaysian
    ones will have to do, the Chinese made version (currently in 2.0) is not an option.

    – Sliding mortises within the internal structure will replace the current dowel design, which is what i initially had in
    mind when I made the blueprints for 2.0.

    – I may make the side panels from 2×4 for 2.0 as well if I can master and adapt a technique I have recently from a kashigata mold maker. Its risky as it requires a series intricate cuts–similar to dovetails but enclosed. I’ll talk about this further at a later time.

    – I want to make the table top with an outer structure using 2×4 as seen on these pictures of Sanzoku:



  24. Fukushima: one year after

    I attended a documentary premiere (Never again) with residents from Miyagi and Fukushima last night, the two with families of their own recalled the events as they unfolded and the perils that had befallen them after March 11th. One of the speakers, Sugasawa Kyoko, described in detail how a relative of hers has been diagnosed with a serious of terminal tumors throughout his body after ingesting local milk. And the incompetent oversight and outright negligence on behalf of the local government and Tepco. She and several other concerned mothers mobilized online and built a series of data to share their findings. A commendable effort indeed.

    Sukuma Hirohide was the other speaker, a former resident of Fukushima; he had concerns about his children’s health and undertook privately funded research to measure the contamination levels of the soil at his children’s playground at the local school. After analysis the results showed a concentration of cesium and strontium exceeding ‘safe’ Government exposure levels for adults (exceeding 1.0 uSv) and equally high level concentrations of cesium in the urine sample of another families child (who had taken extensive precautions regarding exposure) who had been placed in a local daycare in the aftermath. It was concluded that contaminated food, likely produced locally, was the culprit. His findings, when taken up with the local council for review, were dismissed and he was ridiculed for his efforts and condemned for his initiative.

    Unfortunately my camera battery has not been charging and the replacement won’t arrive until this week so I was unable to capture the candlelight vigil for the victims of March 11th. At the time I was overcome with a somber and ominous feeling, as the impact and implications of the aforementioned still weighed heavily upon me, but I took solace in knowing that despite this devastation and despair they still maintained the capacity to articulate their message(s) for the improvement of another societies safety and awareness. That alone warrants high praise!

    I’m sorry for not being able to say it to you in person Hirohide-san, Kyoko-san: Mina-san, otsukaresama. (皆御疲れ様)

  25. Today’s lunch

    I managed to have lunch (well 5 PM is still lunch, right?) after shooting some footage today since the replacement battery came in, and I got these images in between making the dashi for the miso soup. The graining on the tabletop really is highly extenuated after 6 coats of tung oil, the camera doesn’t pick up it as well as it is in person and the image resizing doesn’t help, but it does give you an idea of what it looks like; I still have another 4 or so I want to put on the table top. The drying period is quite long, though–it can take up to 3 days.

    (Tonkatsu + Cabbage + Rice + Bulldog sauce; I’ve been away from the kitchen so no homemade apple chutney tonkatsu sauce was available)

    I know what you’re thinking. And, No! I don’t normally have that much sake to drink at lunch, or dinner or any other meal for that matter… they were props for the scenes I shot earlier in the day. I did have one or two drinks though, video editing is boring and laborious, I’m afraid. I’d rather stick to designing and building a kotatsu. Plus I’ve come to realize that I’m a terrible cameraman.

  26. Current Status!

    Well, not exactly… but partly true. I have been putting ideas together for 3.0 (production table) and sketching some rough blueprints while putting the final touches on the video/ad for my project. I’m about 85% satisfied with it, but as I said: I prefer designing and building tables far more than video editing. My ideas don’t always translate as well as I’d like onto film, likely a shortage of talent, but I’m satisfied with what I have made so far.

    Its been in the 50’s F (15-20C) and raining here and under the kotatsu is just the place to be, as seen above. It really is amusingly addictive; I must have caught myself nodding off twice in 2 hours, while reluctantly getting up to do odd things required a greater degree of effort each time! I even convinced myself to forget preparing a nabe and just stay under for a few more hours and just settle for a few bowls of ochazuke later on. (I stand by my choice.)

    I really do want to bring this experience to as many people in N. America as possible!

  27. PROJECT LAUNCHED!

    That’s right, I have launched and the process is currently being reviewed by kickstarter, I will have the pertinent information when it is made available to me.

    In the mean time enjoy this rather amusing short of コタツネコ (kotatsu neko; kotatsu cat)

    And the equally amusing revised コタツカトウ (kotatsu katou)

  28. Videos!

    A Canadian chap shows his skills.

    Another video of another Master Daiku (Carpenter) in Japan.

    And with carpenters from the E. Coast, very nice work, indeed. I particularly like the kanna (plane) collection.

    I have a contact in Japan with a similar amount of used kanna (some over 150 years old) just waiting from my order! With any luck I’ll be able give him the green light with this project, those thinly shaved pieces of wood made with the kanna resemble katsubushi to me. I’ve seen some made with those kanna that are semi-transparent and over 3 meters long!

  29. Stuff

    I finished this piece that I was working on days before the 11th, but I left it unfinished to meet deadlines; I was trying my best to make the washi paper look as real as I possibly could. The meaning behind the character 勇: courage, cheer up, be in high spirits, bravery, heroism 勇気 courage 勇 bravery 義勇 heroism, bravery. If you look at it from afar/shrunk, you can see that the Hinomaru (Japanese flag) appears.

    I couldn’t decide on the background, I might alter it again.

    • How NOT to use a kotatsu!




    (I kind of want to put these in the instruction manual for 3.0 for a laugh, but also as a disclaimer.)

    I’ve been having a delay due to my bank, so after some choice words in a conversation with the employees at my now ex-bank, and no other recourse… I was left with no other choice than to close my account and switch to another. So this has regrettably prolonged my launch date a bit further, to my dismay. With any luck this will be completed within the next week and I can finally get this launched.

    I also put another 2 coats of oil on the table top of 2.0, with only slight changes. I think I might need to sand it and re-apply to get any further alterations. I’m not sure if I will, though since I’m quite satisfied as it is and the process thus far has given me plenty of experience and information for future use.

  30. I have been asked to remove my initial prize list, due to constraints and regulations on the kickstarter website; I respect their decision, yet I feel the omitted portions of the prizes to be integral to my project and ability to interact and with you the contributors. (I also had to remove some parts from my video, which I may post in its entirety here at a later date.)

    So I remain committed to and will gladly make good on the following prize list:

    $1+ (Arigatou): My sincere gratitude expressed in an email with a seasonal themed e-card for making a contribution, name listed as sponsor on website and product pamphlet. Bonus: you will be entered into a drawing to win a Fukubukuro (Japanese Lucky bag!) worth $100!

    $5+ (Arigatou Plus): Hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor on website and product pamphlet. Bonus: you will be entered into a drawing to win a Fukubukuro (Japanese Lucky bag!) worth $200!

    $10+ (Arigatou gozaimashita): Hand written letter of appreciation, assortment of Japanese snacks*, name listed as sponsor on website and product pamphlet. Bonus: you will be automatically entered to win (1 of 3) a 6” scale kotatsu!

    $35 (Doumo arigatou gozaimashita): Wabi Sabi ocha cup (Made In Japan), Japanese snacks, hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor on website & product pamphlet. Bonus: you will be automatically entered to win a (1 of 3) 6” scale kotatsu!

    $65 (Honto ni arigatou gozaimashita): Cast Iron tea pot trivet (Made in Japan) and Japanese snacks (pocky/kit-kat etc…), name listed as sponsor on website & product pamphlet. Bonus: you will be automatically entered to win (1 of 3) a 6” scale kotatsu

    $125-250 (Honto ni arigatou gozaimashita deluxe!): Hand-crafted wooden sign (Made in USA) with your desired inscription or 6” scale kotatsu, Japanese snacks (pocky/kit-kat etc…), hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor on website & product pamphlet

    $300-350 (Kampai!): Hand-crafted wooden sign (Made in USA) with your desired inscription or 6” kotatsu, Wabi Sabi ocha cup x 2, Wabi Sabi sake cup x 2, Japanese snacks (tailored to your tastes), hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor on website & product pamphlet!

    $450+ (Yatta!): Your own Mark I Kotatsu (+S/H), Wabi Sabi ocha cup x 2, pack of Japanese snacks (tailored to your tastes), hand written letter of appreciation, name listed as sponsor on website & product pamphlet!

    $1000+ (Yatta deluxe!): All of the above + tour and demonstration of operation grounds + sponsors Luncheon and an exclusive Wine Cruise in Dana Point, CA!

    I’ll have a poll soon of what kind of snacks should be available to contributors on Kickstarter once we get rolling. And I’ll be sure to record and post he drawings for all of the aforementioned prizes, I’ll put all your names and for your respective contribution and pick from there. I’ll try hard to get a live recording of it, I have a webcam but its audio/visuals are incredibly poor ~1.3mp quality.

  31. Happy Friday!

    Good news! We have reached popular status on the Kickstarter project list, we have found ourselves within the company of some multimillion dollar projects. Now its time to make every effort to translate that into actions that will allow us to inform others not currently familiar with this project!

    As for me, I will be brainstorming with ideas to accomplish this all this weekend under (what else?) the kotatsu! The wether here is absolutely dreadful and anticipated to remain as such until Monday-Tuesday.

    Here is what it looks like out my window as we speak:


  32. Update!

    Despite my efforts to try and open this blog to a dialogue I have been left waiting and mostly talking to myself… no matter though, becuase we have been having a lively conversation at Crunchy Roll, please do join us!

    http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-759535/anyone-like-kotatsu

    Also, I’m excited to say that Rinkya has notified me about the status of my artisan goods (ocha and sake cup) and I will be posting images of them soon!

    We also have 2 new contributors that are a good morale boost to push us up to get this project fully funded!

    Thanks again, everyone!

  33. Its done!/かんせい です!

    This is one is for you, Strawberry shortcake 16, mashimaro32, Level¹Imp, Luuk, R.L. Fink, Md. Muazzam B. Sham Khiruddin, Ben Oduro, Vinh:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: