Max and I found the Takesumi shop while walking around Ubud and have been incredibly pleased with the products and their packaging. We were quickly convinced that we should at least share some of those wonderful products with you.
A few days later, we got the chance to meet the founder and producer of those Takesumi products. Georges Bernier is French, has been living in Bali for 30 years and developed his bamboo fashion brand before getting involved in the Takesumi bamboo charcoal products. When he told us the story behind the latter, we just couldn't resist. Let us tell more about this.
The Takesumi Story
Georges discovered the Takesumi by chance seven years ago in Ubud, in a warung held by a Japanese woman. This product intrigued him so much that he decided to meet the woman who produced it in Bali. This woman was Natsuko San. When a landslide ravaged the town of Kintamani and killed 39 people, leaving widow and families without any resources, she was the one who decided to build a Takesumi oven in that very same village to help the local villagers. As Natsuko didn't have much time to manage it, Georges took over the project. Constantly thinking about it, day in, day out, he learned everything he needed to know to become the only manufacturer on the island.
The Art of Takesumi
For thousands of years, Takesumi has been used for purification, healing, and longevity. In medieval China, Korea, and Japan, every village would have a Takesumi Master. Farmer and King alike would use this "Black Diamond" to purify the air and water, heal infections and reduce the acidity of foods and drinks. It's no coincidence that the life expectancies in these areas were some of the longest in the world. Modern science has confirmed the remarkable absorption qualities of Takesumi.
The Takesumi production
The bamboo must be burned to perfection according to an ancient technique which is passed on from father to son. As described by Georges, you need to switch on "the dragon" first: a big oven made out of ground clay bricks and bamboo. The Sumi-Yaki (master burner) will make the oven heat up to more than a 1000 degrees before finally closing the air inlets. The following pyrolysis is when the fire is deprived of oxygen so that flames go out. For the following 11 to 28 days, with the remaining heat, the bamboo stored in the oven is carbonized.
Unfortunately, today it is increasingly difficult to find the know-how of the ancient grand masters. Nowadays, iron ovens are slowly replacing the traditional ovens. However, those come with technical limitations and therefore produce Takesumi of only limited quality. In fact, currently, the Takesumi charcoal only reaches its full potential when produced following the methods passed on by the grand masters, and stored in the oven for exactly 28 days.
The Takesumi properties
Bamboo charcoal has many features. Whether for food purification, body care or farming, Takesumi, or "Black Diamond" as the Japanese call it, can be used in many ways.
Known to attract and retain a lot of harmful substances, Takesumi is used to purify water, clean the air, deodorize and dehumidify interiors and even to treat health problems.
Activated bamboo charcoal purifies water from chlorine, toxins, nitrates, sulfates, pesticides and other residual impurities that would usually end up in your body. While eliminating these toxins, Takesumi will also release more than 200 trace elements and so transform your water into a mineral water of incredible quality.
The Ethical Aspect
Here is a part of the annual Takesumi letter that simply says it all and that we wanted to share with you.
"The frog does not drink the pond in which it lives... Our position is without compromise when it comes to the protection and the durability of our natural environment. This planet produces what we share with you. For us, it's merely a question of appreciation and respect. Not only regarding management of the environment but also the strict principles and the protocols which guarantee a fair treatment for the people involved in the production of our products. They all live in the small village of Kintamani and produce around 90% of what we sell. Our wish is to continue to assure that they are well paid well and treated respectfully for their work. We hope to encourage a sustainable practice."
Both the story and the properties of the Takesumi items made it clear to us that we needed to bring those to you. Especially because you can hardly find them anywhere else in Europe, particularly not in such high quality as produced by Georges in Bali.