Oak is reborn as juzu after half-century helping to make Japanese whisky.

Through most of the 20th century, Japanese whisky was almost entirely ignored outside of the country, and even within its home market, and was often treated like an afterthought by a public much more likely to reach for domestically produced beer, sake, or shochu. That’s definitely not the case anymore, though, as the works of Japanese distillers are now among the most acclaimed and desirable in the world.

So with Japanese whisky having reached unprecedented heights of reverence, Kyoto artisans are now crafting Whisky Wood Prayer Beads.

Kanbe Juzu was founded in Kyoto over 100 years ago, and as specified in its name, the workshop specializes in juzu, or Buddhist prayer beads. Juzu are traditionally carved from wood, but the white oak for Kanbe Juzu’s newest creation are actually serving their second duty, as the wood is taken from barrels that spent the last 50 years being used for aging Japanese whisky.

During that half-century of whisky soaking the wood has taken on a unique sheen and smoothness. Combined with the natural visual graining of the wood, the Whisky Wood Prayer Beads have a strong yet elegant look. Adding to that maturely understated aesthetic is the unique coloring of the cords of the tasseled version, which are dyed using extracts from the whisky barrel wood.

Kanbe Juzu is also making four non- tasseled versions, two with wooden beads only and two that include amber accents, like the tasseled rosary does. The models on the left in the below images are listed as “unisex” while those on the right are “men’s,” but this appears to be strictly related to size (i.e. the “men’s” sizes are bigger) rather than any fundamental difference in design.

Prices start at 3,300 yen (US$28.70) for the smaller all-wood version and range up to 8,690 yen for the tasseled rosary.

As for how Kanbe Juzu came up with the concept for Whisky Wood Prayer Beads, the company says it was inspired by how the years-long process of making whisky is a culmination of the thoughts and efforts of many people. Kanbe Juzu wanted to incorporate those feelings into the rosaries, and it hopes that the Whisky Wood Prayer Beads will also function as conversation starters and allow the wood to continue connecting people to one another.

Related: Kanbe Juzu
Source, images: PR Times
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