Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 6


Tiny and unusual shape silk cocoons at the studio of the known artist Masakazu Akiyama outside of Miyazaki on Kyushu Island. Mr. Akiyama is famous for raising silk worms that make fine delicate silk threads. After seeing the silk worms we were shown an outdoor freezer under lock and key full of these precious cocoons. Very fine silk threads are unwound from the cocoons in their studio. Then dyed in natural dyed and woven into gossamer cloth. [click photos to enlarge]

Watch this short video to see the silk worms feeding on mulberry leaves. They were hatched a week ago. I forget how long it takes them to be full grown and begin spinning cocoons—maybe about a month. The air conditioning fans made too much noise so we couldn’t hear the sound of the munching that people say can be heard.

When it’s time to make their cocoons each silk worm is put into a small confined space so each individual cocoon is separate. This is an old style contraption. There were hundreds of frames in the cocoon barn with grids for the cocoons. The worms get to be the size of the tomato worms we had in our garden as a kid. That’s BIG.

Here Mr Akiyama is giving his babies more mulberry leaves to eat. It’s interesting that’s the only thing that silk worms eat all over the world.

I’ve never seen so many indigo dye vats in one place before. This shows about half of the indigo dye house. The vats are of different ages. Ones that are fresh are the ones used for dying. Other rest until ready. This way they can dye practically whenever they want I assume.

a woman is dyeing cloth in one of the indigo vats. The open vat shows the characteristic foam when a vat is “ happy”. The vats are in the ground with steam heat to keep the warm. Usually vats are in the ground for temperature control.

A gossamer scarf woven with the fine silk threads.

5 thoughts on “Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 6

  1. my next visit will include Kyushu. I was also wanting to find out if silkworms were still being raised on Amami or do they receive their silk thread from Kyushu? looks fabulous!

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