In Sosa, there is a lovely group of folks whose pastime is making winnowing baskets (箕) at the Kizumi Winnowing Baskets Factory (木積箕づくり工房). Many of the members have been making these baskets for years and they make making these baskets look like a piece of cake.
To make the baskets, you have to use a few different materials. Here is some of the bamboo that was hung to dry before being used to weave the basket. It has to be wet again before being woven through the other bamboo or it will break and you will also get a hand full of splinters!
This old lady's fingers are magical, zooming in and out of between the pieces of bamboo.
This basket is getting closed to being finished. The man pictured is working on making the rim of the basket. When you watch them, you can see how much effort they put into even the smallest of details. Each day, they can only complete around 2 baskets, so it makes sense that the baskets cost around $150 (~1万５千円).
After the baskets are finished, they are used to carry rice from the fields or other agricultural goods.
As we were leaving to go back to the bus, I noticed that one of the members was wearing old-style Japanese shoes. They don't quite look comfortable, but I was surprised to see a person walking in them as I usually only see traditional-style Japanese shoes when it gets close to festival time.
In May, at the same place, they have a festival for wisteria, full of the amazing lavender-colored flowers. There are also drum performances, so bring your whole family!
If you would like to try making willowing basket or want to know more information about the wisteria festival, please call 0479-73-0089
The Winnowing Basket Group's Website (Japanese only)
Kizumi 1201, Sosa City, Chiba (匝瑳市木積1201)
How to get there:
If you are going by train, take the Soubu Hon Line and get off at Yokaichiba Station. Take the bus for Narita Station and get off at "Kizumi" (木積)