Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants, reaching full size in only 2-3 months. Some bamboo has been recorded to grow 120 centimeters in a single day. After reaching its full height, bamboo ceases to grow, hence there are no annual growth rings seen in harvested bamboo. A bamboo shoot's lifespan is typically about 20 years. It has an extensive root system that continuously sends up new shoots and lives for many decades. Bamboo is hard and resilient. It will split cleanly along its vertical grain, and can be split as finely as 0.3mm in diameter. This readiness to split means bamboo renders itself very well to craft.
Using Variations of Bamboo
Bamboo roots spread underground over a wide area, much broader than trees, so they are more than ten times better at preventing landslides than forests of other trees.
Furthermore, bamboo fiber is very thin and makes better quality paper than wood.Today, Rayon, charcoal and activated carbon are made of bamboo.
The heat output of bamboo is much better than wood, it produces 70% of the heat of the same weight in coal and 50% that of fuel oil. It is a remarkable conservation resource because it can be grown very quickly at a low cost.
All Kinds of Bamboo
There are 1200 types of bamboo in the world. The main areas where bamboo is found include Japan, China, Taiwan, SouthAsia, Africa and South America. It is said that there are 600 types of bamboo in Japan with 40% of Japan's bamboo forests living on the island of Kyushu.
Bamboo grows best in deeply shaded places facing north, in warm places, or in sandy areas.
Ninety percent of Japanese bamboo is composed of three species madake (60% of the total) , mousouchiku (20%) and hachiku (10%) . Madake, mousouchiku and kurochiku are mainly used in Beppu.
Oita Prefecture has 60% of Japan's madake bamboo groves, making it the largest production location in the country. Its surface is very smooth and is often covered with large dark brown spots. It can grow 20 meters high and 14 centimeters in diameter. It is easily cut and its skin readily peeled off making it ideal to use for bamboo craft.
Mousouchiku is the tallest kind of bamboo in Japan. Originally from China, it now makes up 20% of Japanese bamboo. It grows 25 meters tall, and 25 centimeters in diameter.
This kind of bamboo is characterized by its purple-brown spots and the very soft fuzz on its surface. There is one line of knots along it, and white wax powder can be found on the lower surfaces. It is used for flower pots, alcove pillars and bamboo trays. Unprocessed bamboo shoots, takenoko, are cultivated for eating.
Kurochiku is a shorter bamboo that grows 3-5 meters tall with a diameterof 2-3 centimeters. It is green in color in its early stages, but becomes darker as it grows. Within one year, the entire stalk will turn black.
It is widely grown in the Wakayama and Shikoku areas as well as in Kyushu. It is ideal for many bamboo products including, walls, fishing rods and ornaments.