This fence uses vertical slats of bamboo held over a wooden frame with horizontal split corms tied with palm rope. It is also capped with three half-culms to protect from rain. This style of fence can be either one-sided or two-sided. It sometimes employs ornately scalloped diagonal braces on the garden side of the fence.

Yuji-san uses a large 6-way bamboo splitter to create slats for our example. The splitter is centered on the top of the cleaned corm and tapped to use kinetic force to move the splitter through the bamboo. The result is 6 evenly cut slats.


The slats are flattened by removing the inner membranes and leveling the sides of the culms. This allows the slats to lay flat when attached to the frame.


Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have an industrial power planer in the shop! This makes quick work of it and produces slats of even size and thickness.


The slats are matched according to aesthetics and nodes are carefully positioned.


Here, the matched slats are lined up and the nodes are placed so that no consecutive slats have nodes that line up.


The slats are then attached to the frame, predrilling the holes before carefully nailing with galvanized nails.


The sample section has all slats in place and ready for the cross pieces.

The cross pieces are half-culms created in a similar way as the slats, but using a special bamboo knife or two-way splitter. They are attached using screws in pre-drilled holes. Care is taken not to tighten too much as that would split the culms.


In order to feed the palm rope through the tight slats, an awl is used to separate them slightly, then a thin metal hook is inserted from the reverse side to catch and pull the rope through.


In this case, the knot calls for double rope. The knots are centered over the screws to hide them.


The knots used for the Kennin-ji fence are very decorative and make up much of its character.


By using double or more ropes, the knot is larger and stands up better.


This knot is known as the “man knot” due to its resemblance to a walking man when complete.


The finished Kennin-ji gaki.

This is a small example of this fence. A full sized fence may be supported by decorative diagonal support posts as well as the internal posts. The fence is capped with another half-culm for protection. Fasteners are hidden with decorative black palm rope. You can see how a basic knot is tied in this video on Simple Japanese knots.

Don Pylant, Kyoto 2001