Tag Archives: Kimono

No time for jet lag…

It’s the end of Saturday here in Japan -only three days into the tour and we have already experienced many wonderful things! I always think I will have more time to blog our adventures than ends up being the reality. There is a desire to record the day to day-ness of it all, balanced by the reality of the schedule while still remaining in the moment. So tonight I have a bit of time to catch up here, so will backtrack a bit first…

There are certain stages of the tour …milestones of a sort. The first one being- having spent almost two years gathering the group and organizing the details-I finally get to meet everyone in person! The majority of us departed from LAX (Los Angeles) and others we will meet in Japan at Narita Airport. We had a little time at the departure gate to introduce ourselves and put names that have been on lists and in emails to the actual faces! We have three people traveling with us that have been on previous tours but even still I have not seen two of them for many years so it feels good to catch up a bit! As always, when I meet the rest face to face, I’m so pleased that this tour always attracts such a wonderful group of people who want to learn more about silk, Japan, and textiles in general. Cloth people are just good folks! I’m not quite comfortable until the plane door closes and everyone is on board. At this point, final boarding is done and the door closes- I relax.
A 10.5 hour flight passes quickly and uneventfully in relative comfort. Watching a movie or reading a good book wearing noise cancelling headphones takes one away like an old fashioned Calgon bath. A couple of people knit the hours away.
Arriving at Narita we gather up the rest of the group and Hirata san who has been at the airport ahead of time to meet the early arrivals leads us and our luggage to the hired bus for the trip to the the Ginza where we will stay for the following 3 days.
Hotel check-in and a brief rest was followed by a short walk to Hirata-san’s favorite Ginza shabu shabu restaurant with those who were interested.

Tokyo Ginza is where we stop first with a small hotel one block off the main street. The first day was reserved to visit the Mingei-kan- the Folk and Craft Museum which represents the finest of simple and masterful craftwork for use in everyday life. We traveled there by train and with 17 people trailing through the train stations for their first time and using their Suica cards we arrived without too much confusion! Once inside the museum we were given a short introduction in English by a docent. The Mingei folk and craft museum celebrates the beauty in the handmade object-useful items used in everyday life. Beauty is appreciated by all and to have and use basic things of beauty enhances and enriches ones life. Simplicity and beauty can be seen in everyday objects here. We were fortunate to discover that a temporary exhibit of shibori by Motohiko Katano was on display during our stay and a highlight of the visit. No photos inside the museum are allowed so here are a few from the outside and a short video…

Motohiko Katano shibori

From there we divided into two groups- one headed to a craft and folk art shop called Bingoya to see works by current craftsman across Japan. My group returned to Tokyo Ginza where a couple of us were to meet up with Megumi-san who would introduce us to a kimono shop specializing in Amami Oshima Tsumugi. Two of us will travel to Amami Oshima at the end of the tour and this visit was to educate us a bit about Amami textiles and dorozome (mud dyeing) which is done there. Completely fascinating and a very special treat!
Following this Megumi-san (an expert in kimono and known to the best shops in the Ginza) took us to several shops to see the finest of kimono made with top quality textiles.

Tea was enjoyed at the end of the day in one of the oldest tea shops along with fruit and agar.
Returning to the hotel, everyone went their own way, some meeting up with Hirata-san who led a group to Tsukiji for sushi dinner and others who just couldn’t walk one more step went next door to Ginza Six for dinner.

Ok…gotta run! It’s monday and we’re in Kyoto where I was able to steal an hour of early morning computer time. Will do more catching up later!

giving new life to old silk

once upon a time there were many many kimono. some were worn daily, some were worn for special occasions and when they needed cleaning, they were taken apart, cleaned, then sewn back together.  as time passed, many of these kimono were no longer being worn. the outer fine colorful silks were often stripped of the inner linings and resold to be remade into other things. but the lowly inner lining silks-though also fine, but often plain and with little pattern or color, were set aside (if not discarded!) since no one knew what to do with them.

Richard has been collecting them and remaking them into his beautiful silk mandalas.  he is here once again to give a workshop and for the past couple of days we have been preparing things.  today, we took some pieces out to get a few photos and some video for the daily dyer.

mandalas group

my, they looked glorious! so alive & revivied.

detail mandala

for this workshop, we decided that we wanted to concentrate on using some of these silks and show what can be done with them . we will be using them freely both for the arashi  and the mandalas.  if they don’t start being used, they are simply going to be discarded.   silk was used as a form of currency at one time, so it is interesting to me that something that was once so highly valued is now being cast away.

i like the intention of these pieces we are making.  some of the silks are quite old.  they were important enough to have been saved by someone all this time.  some appear to be hand loomed, even hand spun!  imagine throwing that away.  some are simple but perfect for dyeing.  some have spots or stains. all are unique in various ways. most of the blemishes were no longer noticeable once they were dyed.  my favorites are the ones where you can see the slubs, tyoffs and the uneven tensions from the weaving. like these-

there was more than enough for the workshop so i spent some time today sorting and ironing and packaging up some to put into the shop.

i like that we can use this silk from the past in our work today. i can learn things just by looking at it! and some of it is here now in the shop.