Tokyo - Take-Akari, a hand-carved bamboo lampshade, is Kumamoto-based startup Chikaken's main product. The lampshade is created by drilling detailed designs onto the surface of a stalk of bamboo, then placing a candle inside to illuminate its beauty and surroundings. Chikaken launched pre-orders for Take-Akari on July 21, 2016 via Indiegogo, with delivery set for January 2017.
Since its initial launch, Take-Akari has attracted many influential supporters, including Akie Abe, the first lady of Japan.
"We decided to launch this crowdfunding campaign because we wanted to spread joy," said Chikao Ikeda, one of two directors of Chikaken. "When we first learned how to create bamboo lanterns and saw the smiles on people's faces, that's when we knew we wanted to bring this to the world."
Take-Akari has been showcased in many large-scale events in Japan, such as Kumamoto's annual Mizu-Akari Festival. Every year, more than 20,000 bamboo lamps are displayed to more than 200,000 visitors, and Chikaken manages the lighting design of the whole festival.
Chikaken also held a workshop at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016, and the first ladies of the participating countries all received Take-Akari as a gift.
"We're very thankful for the loyal support of our fans," said Kenshi Mishiro, co-director of Chikaken. "Our goal is to introduce Take-Akari as a form of contemporary Japanese art while simultaneously spreading the Japanese concept of Wa (harmony) to the world."
Take-Akari is fully recyclable and is part of a solution for "bamboo damage" (chiku-gai in Japanese), which refers to the environmental problems caused by haphazard growth of neglected bamboo forests. Pre-ordering a Take-Akari lampshade contributes to environmental preservation in Japan.
Three percent of the funds raised will be donated to Team Kumamoto, a charity organization helping those suffering from the devastating Kumamoto earthquake. Chikaken is based in Kumamoto so this is an issue very close to heart.