Bamboo fencing is a valuable element in Japanese gardening. It is a way to create a special space while adding beauty at the same time. We will start with a well-known style from the famous Katsura Detached Palace in Kyoto. The photos are taken at Otsuka Bamboo in Kyoto, Japan. For a demonstration of Japanese fence knot, see Otoko musu.

Yuji-san is selecting bamboo branches according to size & node spacing.


The branches are woven together with the large ends at one end. Side branches are tucked under the main front branches.


Learning the basics, Don Pylant is interweaving left and right side branches. Work from the bottom to the top and keep the stems on the bottom.


Here is a small section of the waddle assembly showing the side branches woven behind the main front branches. Notice the branch taper from bottom to top.


Here is the assembled frame to hold the wattle. It is of 1″ lumber and is pre-drilled and pre-nailed before assembly. I like to glue joints as well.


Yuji-san makes adjustments to node alignment and tightens the stem spacing. The woven side branches have been bundled to make handling easier.


Nailing holding strips of split bamboo to the front of the section. This helps compress and hold the wattle in place.

The branches are aligned parallel with the frame, end compressions strips are in place, the side wattle is trimmed and saved for the next step.


The trimmed wattle, along with additional that is cut to fit is added from the opposite side. A tight fit keeps it in place longer. If it is loose, you will end up constantly adjusting and replacing it.


Horizontal compression strips of bamboo are applied and the wattle edges are trimmed to fit within the frame.


Carefully sawing bamboo covers. The corm is slowly rotated while sawing to prevent stringy cuts. The jig helps keep the cut straight. The miter cut at the top is done on a special bench


Yuji-san is attaching the cut, cleaned and beveled half-round culms over the frame and Otsuka-san is attaching the cut, cleaned and beveled half-round culms over the frame and compression strip. The holes are predrilled.


The finished model. This piece is an example of two sections of the Katsura fence. Abutting sections are alternated so that one section has large branch ends to the left and the next to the right. This creates a sort of checkerboard affect.

After construction, the wattle would be straightened and any errant wattle would be replaced behind the main front branches. Additional half-culms are added to the top of the fence. Fasteners are hidden with decorative black palm rope. You can see how these knots are tied in this video on Simple Japanese knots. The real thing is usually about 2 meters in height.

Don Pylant, Kyoto Japan, 2001.