Christian Martini shares the joy and beauty of Japanese bamboo brooms in this how-to article inspired by Masanori Yamakami's workshop.
Japanese Bamboo Broom
A BAMBOO BROOM is the perfect tool for gently sweeping away debris from your moss garden. The Japanese have been using these simple brooms for ages, and Japanese landscapers continue to use them for their effectiveness without the obtrusive noise of a leaf blower. In addition to this, they are simply a joy to use and a beauty to behold. To construct your own bamboo broom, you will need to have access to a bamboo grove where you are allowed to cut down some bamboo culms, and you will need a bit of steel rebar tie wire or thin gauge copper wire. You will also need a drill, pliers, a fine toothed bamboo saw (a hacksaw will work), and a pair of pruners or loppers.
When you enter the grove, you will need to find the oldest bamboo culms which will have the densest branching and therefore make a better broom. The oldest culms will likely be smaller in diameter and dirtier than the newer ones, so make use of these. You can also look up into the canopy and shake the culm to see which ones have the densest branches. Cut down the poles at ground level and cut off the branches with your pruners or loppers. If you are going to use the culms for other projects, you will want to make a small cut on the underside of the branch with your saw, and then snap it off cleanly by pulling the branch down swiftly. This will leave a smooth culm without any sharp stubs. You will need approximately 40-50 branches to make a good, full bamboo broom. You can probably get about 10 branches from each culm depending on the size and species. The broom handle should be made from a culm measuring about 1"-1.5" in diameter and should be cut to 3.5'-4' leaving a node at the top and bottom.