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Exhibitions - 07.28.2022 - 01.15.2023

A Bamboo Exploration with Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

Accessible Virtual Tour

07.28.2022 (Thu.) ― 01.15.2023 (Sun.)


Mon. – Fri. | 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM (PST)
Sat. – Sun.  | 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM (PST)


JAPAN HOUSE Gallery, Level 2



A fourth-generation bamboo artist, Tanabe Chikuunsai IV (b. 1973) dramatically pushes the boundaries of the artform. While continuing his family’s tradition of weaving bamboo flower baskets and smaller sculptural works, he is also renowned for using bamboo as a material for large-scale contemporary artworks and installations at museums and other venues around the world. The exhibition LIFE CYCLES examines the Chikuunsai artistic lineage, Tanabe Chikuunsai IV’s creative process, and the life of Japan’s bamboo forests.

Born in Sakai in Osaka, Chikuunsai trained in sculpture at Tokyo University of the Arts. He then studied traditional Japanese basket weaving in Beppu in Oita prefecture and with his father, Tanabe Chikuunsai III. Keenly aware of artistic life cycles, Chikuunsai is passing down to his children the skills and knowledge he inherited from earlier generations. He is also conscious of the life of the bamboo he uses in his work. As he harvests bamboo from the woods of Kochi in Shikoku, he also strives to nurture and preserve the forests. For his site-specific installations, Chikuunsai previously used torachiku, or “tiger bamboo,” which has now become scarce. For this installation, he employed two other types of bamboo—madake (“Japanese timber bamboo”) and kurochiku (“black bamboo”), which is also disappearing. The exhibition highlights the importance of conserving the bamboo forests, or chikurin, for future generations.

As he weaves the bamboo strips, Chikuunsai reflects upon connections, or tsunagari, between humans and nature, present and past generations, and the cultures he brings together through his installations. When an exhibition closes, he dismantles each installation and saves the bamboo strips to use in his next work—creating a generational connection between his works, deliberately avoiding waste, and extending the bamboo’s life cycle.

LIFE CYCLES | The Forest

Tanabe Chikuunsai IV stripping bamboo  

LIFE CYCLES | The Cycles

Bamboo Installation, Connection, in Tokyo Nihonbashi Takashimaya by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV  

*To watch the video in full screen, please click on the image above, then click on the YouTube icon on the lower right-hand corner. 

Tanabe Chikuunsai IV Interview


*To view the flipbook in full screen, please click on the "Fullscreen" icon on the lower right-hand corner from the window above.

Introductory Exhibition

The LIFE CYCLES exhibition begins in the windows of the JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles second-floor space with a large abstract bamboo sculpture and a small-scale installation, both powerful artworks that hint at the spectacular main installation inside. Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are introduced to the Tanabe Chikuunsai family lineage—four generations who have been weaving bamboo into works of artistic and cultural importance for a century. One bamboo basket from each of the three preceding generations and two works by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV demonstrate the evolution of bamboo basket weaving. This introductory section opens two weeks before the Main Gallery on July 13 allowing the public to observe the artist and his team creating the large, site-specific installation. (When the main installation is complete, a time-lapse video of its fabrication will be shown in the Sub-Gallery.)

Main Site-Specific Installation

Bamboo Installation in LIFE CYCLES Exhibition by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV  

The Main Gallery features a large-scale, immersive bamboo installation by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, made especially for the JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles space. Constructed through weaving about ten thousand bamboo strips, it is held together with tension. The fluid, organic form winds and twists across the gallery, allowing visitors to approach and view it from multiple angles. The exhibition invites study and contemplation of the bamboo material, Chikuunsai’s technical artistry, and concepts of connectivity, continuity, and cycles that form the core of the artist’s work. A video projection of the bamboo forests, or chikurin, of Kochi prefecture in Shikoku, from which Chikuunsai has traditionally harvested bamboo, accompanies the installation. An artist statement and a video of Chikuunsai’s art-making process explain his efforts to preserve these bamboo forests for future generations.

Read Artist Statement

Note: Traditionally, the Japanese family name comes first, followed by personal name or artist name.

The Tanabe Chikuunsai Lineage of Bamboo Artists

Tanabe Chikuunsai IV is the fourth in a lineage of bamboo artists based in the Kansai region of Japan, specifically the city of Sakai in Osaka prefecture. For many decades, the artists have woven strips of bamboo into elegant baskets used for flower arrangements, particularly for display during both the chanoyu tea ceremony (in which powdered and whipped matcha is served in bowls) and sencha tea practices (in which tea leaves are steeped in hot water and served in small cups).

As with many Japanese cultural traditions, skills and styles are passed down from one generation to the next. With artists, lineage names are also often passed on, as with Tanabe Chikuunsai IV. The lineage name is made up of the family name, Tanabe, and the art name, or , Chikuunsai, meaning “Bamboo Cloud Master.” Each generation of artist is given a personal name at birth, for example Takeo in the case of Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, then they work for a period of time with a junior artist name, such as Shōchiku. Upon the retirement or death of the artist’s father, they inherit the prestigious art name Chikuunsai, becoming Tanabe Chikuunsai, followed by a generational number.

Chikuunsai I sitting next to handwoven basket
Chikuunsai II with his family, learning how to weave bamboo baskets
Chikuunsai III with his family
Chikuunsai IV sitting next to his work at Shokoji Temple

    Photo of Tanabe Chikuunsai IV by Minamoto Tadayuki

    About Four Generations

    Explore Bamboo


    *To view the flipbook in full screen, please click on the "Fullscreen" icon on the lower right-hand corner from the window above. 

    Learn About Bamboo

    Exhibition-Related Programs

    Tanabe Chikuunsai IV | Live Bamboo Artist Talk & Demo Tanabe Chikuunsai IV with his bamboo artwork

    Photo by Minamoto Tadayuki


    07.28.2022 (Thu.)


    06:00 PM - 07:30 PM (PDT)

    Check Event

    Tradition & Modernity in Japanese Bamboo Baskets Bamboo basket by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

    Photo by Minamoto Tadayuki


    08.16.2022 (Tue.)


    05:00 PM - 06:00 PM (PDT)

    Watch Now

    Sustaining Black Bamboo | The Artist and the Woodsman
    Black bamboos with a white play icon

    © Kanasaki Chikuzaiten


    11.02.2022 (Wed.)


    05:00 PM - 06:00 PM (PDT)

    Watch Now

    Bamboo in Japanese Culture & Lifestyle | Limitless Potential of Bamboo Yoshihiro Yamagishi sitting next to a stack of tiger bamboo baskets

    Courtesy of Taketora


    12.07.2022 (Wed.)


    05:00 PM - 06:00 PM (PST)

    Check Event

    Reading Material

    From Roots to Shoots: Bamboo as a Cultural Icon Dishes using bamboo

    Read Article

    Weaving Sustainability: Bamboo Craft in Japanese Tradition Godai: VOID by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

    Read Article

    Exhibition Brochure

    The exhibition brochure is available for download.

    Exhibition Credits

    Presented by | JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles
    Exhibition Production | Tanabe Chikuunsai IV
    Chikuunsai IV Installation Assistants/Apprentices | Nakamura Emika, Hayashi Jumpei, Ichikawa Yona, Hamada Yoshiaki  
    Exhibition Photography and Video | Minamoto Tadayuki and Hashiguchi Akiko  
    Exhibition Support provided by | Yumekoubou, TAI Modern, Kanasaki Chikuzaiten, Yamagishi Chikuzaiten

    Media Sponsors

    Los Angeles magazine and KCRW logo

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