Stitches Out Today and Lots of Going Around Tokyo

Stitches OutFirst thing today was to get my stitches out: we couldn’t do anything else before the stores opened anyway.  The hospital was a 10 min walk and the whole hospital procedure took only a half hour  Then we were on our way to roll! We went to Asakusabashi, the area that is a wholesale district for textiles and dolls, Cathy took us to a doll store she remembered from 7years ago!

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2013-06-03 at 21.18.34I got some shots of the Sky Tree’s top from there. Then to Akakusa area for traditional kimono and souvenir shops. I bought a print in a tiny antique shop. it was so small we had to take off our backpacks and go 2013-06-04 at 01.30.20in single file. The print has something  to do with textile making but I am not sure what. Next to Mitsukoshi department store to look around. Cathy remembered going there as a child. One floor was devoted to art gallery exhibitions. One was of cats. There was a fantasy ” cat fish” that was charming but too expensive to consider. The last was to travel to Daikanyama T 2013-06-04 at 01.31.53Site. Our goal was the Tsutaya book store. An amazing modern, stylish area. There was a tiny “green” dog park which had a rate per hour. Also available to rent were dog prams and there was a dog spa attached. Everything was fashionable, young, and modern: people, dogs,  buildings, and shops. We ate at a Hawaiian restaurant there then dragged ourselves to the hotel. What fun! Tokyo is up to date that’s for sure!
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Yuki City Known for Tsumugi Weaving

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Our friends drove us to Yuki City to see tsumugi weaving. Silk is spun from cocoons that have been pulled apart rather than being unwound from the cocoons. We went to a school and a small mill.

It was fascinating to see the weft being tied for weft ikat and the weavers working on traditional jabata blackstrap looms.
2013-06-02 at 22.20.20This group picture is of the owner of the mill and his wife and their son.

They were so generous to answer our 100 questions! Our friends drove us back to Tokyo for our last two days. It was another wonderful and full day.

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Mt. Fuji and Tokyo

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On the bullet train from Nagoya to Tokyo2013-06-01 at 21.28.44 we glimpsed Mt. 2013-06-01 at 22.34.37Fuji which was thrilling. In Tokyo we met friends who took us to walk around the Imperial Palace, then to the Kioi Art Gallery which has a collection of old stencils and examples of summer kimonos that were stenciled.

2013-06-02 at 00.41.09Then we managed to find the parking garage for the Sky Tree building in the crowded streets. The building itself is the tallest structure in the world (I think). It was such a mob scene that we left and gave up our dinner reservation. Looked like 10 floors of shops. We did two floors without loosing each other, bought pastries for breakfast and left. My camera couldn’t capture the height of the tower.
Our escape was to a wonderful sushi restaurant in the neighborhood of our friends. We spent the night in their lovely home: a rare and very special treat. [click photos to enlarge]

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My Eye After One Week and the Ginza

photo[ Sorry 😥 – only a couple of photos today – having problems sending photos to my tech wizard Bob ]
We were on our own today until time to go for the bullet train to Nagoya for the Shibori Festival  on Saturday.

After breakfast as usual at a Starbucks near the hotel we set off to explore the Ginza. I wanted to see the Uniqlo store I’d been hearing do much about. The fancy stores were packed next to each other and all the buildings were high rises. There were lots of pedestrians, but not a crowd on this Friday morning. Uniqlo opened at 11:00 as did everything else. We strolled around on the side streets where there were smaller shops packed in until they opened.

uniqlo- tokyoUniqlo has 12 floors of fashionable, affordable clothes for men, women and children. Everything was there that one would need, including underwear, tights, socks and some accessories. Since we had spent the day before at the highest end fashion designers and been observing what the young people were wearing, I thought they covered all the bases for what the  fashion minded would want to have. There was a lot of stuff for lounge wear–sort of like pajamas that you could wear around the house for lounging. Lots of niceT-shirts and other casual wear, too. The company stresses casual wear and cheap prices and comfortable fabrics.  Seemed like everything was around $20. The fabrics were breathable and nice to touch. The colors were many.

My problems concerned that things were made in China and the new fibers are made with petroleum products. They seemed to out Gap the Gap in displaying a huge quantity of appealing clothes– especially with the low prices.  Just didn’t seem right after all the Japanese crafts people are working so hard to keep traditions alive.  I came away thinking people don’t need to have so many clothes especially when it impacts the environment.

I saw lots of things that appealed to me (nice T shirts and tank tops) but didn’t feel I wanted to support all that consumption so I didn’t buy anything.

We ventured into the food area of a department store to get pastries and food for dinner on the train. I was very aware of all the people around this time and didn’t get run over.

More Places We Visited in Tokyo

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We started off at The Japan Folk Crafts Museum — in a beautiful traditional house. I remember when Cathy and I went there in 2007 when there was an exhibit of textiles from India.  There was a very long wall hung with turbans unrolled and hug cheek-by- jowel.  They inspired me and to this day I have been weaving narrow warps. There was a stunning Ainu exhibit this time and a room with textiles from Okinawa that was very special.

2013-05-29 at 21.06.50Next was a visit to The Iwatste Folk Textile Museum. It is a glorious small museum of Horoku Iwatate’s textiles.. This time it was African textiles. She has travelled and collected textiles of the highest quality. She is well known for her collection of  textiles from India and has written at least 2 books about them. Her museum was rather far out from the center of Tokyo in an area with chic shops–the subway stop is Jiyugaoka on the Toyko Toya line.

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Then we visited the street where the famous 2013-05-29 at 23.15.21fashion designers have shops the area is called Omote-Sandeo, I think. Issey Miyaki, Comme des Garçons, Haat, Tsumori Chisato are some shops where we went inside.  The buildings on the store are quite interesting, too.  This is the area where the tea/flower shop is that I wrote about out our first day of the trip. We visited Morita again, the antique textile shop in the area then stopped for a lassie at Muji.

2013-05-30 at 03.23.40Then back to the hotel, then out for a very special dinner.We travelled all over the place on the JR trains or subway: lots of stairs up and down. Another day filled with wonderful things to see and experience.

Busy Day in Tokyo

2013-05-28 at 18.54.25We took a Tokyo Cruise Boat to Asakusa in the morning. The river was packed with high rise buildings on both sides for miles. At the Senso-Ji  shrine there were mobs of tourists. I remember standing under that huge lantern when I came in 1967.  [click photos to enlarge]

2013-05-28 at 19.36.58Near by was the Amuse Museum (the real name) where there was a lonely exhibit of old textles and farm equipment.  The patched cloth garments and blankets are called boro.


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Then to the Tokyo National Museum for a big exhibit of Shinto treasures and other parts of the museum were interesting, too. Then to the Ginza to see designer clothes and pick up food for dinner in our room. Yoshiko knows how to pack a day full of wonderful things to see!
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A Thrilling Day in Kiryu

2013-05-27 at 17.11.59We stooped first at a paper maker’s ( mr. Hoshino ) studio and saw how water marked paper was made. They were making paper for diplomas for the local schools. Paper making is fascinating to observe, especially when is being made “for real” , not just for demonstrating. We began our day of big shopping buying his handmade papers.

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Then we went to a place that is a textile archive of things made by Junichi Arai. He is the person who put the town of Kiryu on the map. He is known world wide for extremely innovative textile art and technology. More shopping was done. Lunch with Mr. Arai and his wife was next–a sumptuous feast. Of course we gave our gifts to him then.

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The third stop was a living textile museum. It is called “The textile Research Institute of Gunma”. It was fabulous with lots of types of looms and people there to demonstrate how each one worked. Gunma is the Prefecture for Kiryu.

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The last stop was to visit a contemporary designer, Osamu Mita, and his weaving mill. They have things in the Metropolitan Museum catalogs.  There were 20 or 30 huge power jacquard looms working and we were able to walk around them. It was great. Maybe the best part was shopping for his contemporary textiles: scarves, throws, fabrics. I guess that was not the last stop because that was the Jibesan Center, for local industrial products in the town. They showed lots of the textiles from other parts of the world. Everyone was too shopped-out to check out the items for sale. Then we took the bullet train to Tokyo and got to our hotel around 8:00.

A busy and wonderful day we had. Now to explore with Yoshiko Wada to see her favorite places in Tokyo. The prospect of packing and getting everything home looms.

Beautiful Red Silks, Silkworm Farm and a Silk Factory

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We travelled around Takasaki by bus. The first stop was to Mrs. Haruko Yoshiniwara who did huge research in red dye that was used for under kimono. The color was glorious.

2013-05-26 at 21.28.30The next stop was to a farmer who raised silk worms and the mulberry trees to feed them. He had a huge space in one barn where the worms were eating and slowing down ready to molt. We learned many interesting things about raising them. The was another barn where the cocoons were made with the little cubicles for each cocoon. Another barn was for the last stage before cocoon making where they ate more than ever.

2013-05-26 at 22.44.15The last stop was at a factory that reeled off the silk from the cocoons by machine. Hardly believable that fine silk thread could be made from the cocoons mechanically. I bought some lumpy skeins made of the waste silk which is the outer part of the cocoon. Thought I was buying one skein but instead there are about 10 huge skeins!  I am trying to think up was to use it up so mr creative juices 2013-05-26 at 22.49.34are going.

We stayed at a Japanese inn in the mountains. A stream burbled outside our shoji screens all night. We also had a fantastic gourmet dinner with local foods. Now off to Kiyru (spelling?) to see the famous Junichi Arai.
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A Visit to Hiroyuki Shindo, the Famous Indigo Dyer and My Gift

Woven Bookmarks Peggy Osterkamp > click to enlarge

We visited Mr. Shindo, the world famous indigo dyer on May 25. I gave him my bookmark when he sat at our table at lunch. He told our leader, Yoshiko Wada, that it is really a work of art and he hung it on a wall along with work of other well known textile artists. I am 1

Mr. Shindo lives in a town famous for traditional thatched roof houses. It is in a gorgeous valley with rice paddies and lovely mountains. It is near Miyama.     [click photos]photo 3

My Big Black Eye

photo 4On Friday I got knocked over while shopping for pastries in a big department store fell on the side of my face  I am so lucky I didn’t break anything but i did go screaming in an ambulance through Kyoto rush hour traffic to the ER. Got 4 stitches and went back on Saturday morning to be checked out. All Is normal–I have a big black eye. The department store people really helped and our tour leader met me at the hospital. It is a 10-minute walk from the hotel.

We leave today, Saturday, for small villages and will live out of our overnight bags for3 nights at 3different places.  There will be a lot a special people we will meet and we all are taking our gifts to present. Here are some pictures of the gorgeous traditional Japanese buildings.

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Bullet Train to Kyoto

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It was fun to see the sleek bullet trains going in an out of the station but hard to catch a picture. So these are the best I could get.

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Kyoto has beautiful shrines and buildings which is what Kyoto is for me. This gate is to a shrine nest to our hotel.

Yoshiko took on a tour of her favorite designers and shops. I did some serious shopping. I need to get money today. Weather is hot but manageable.

Shibiri: Day Two

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We worked all morning to make new patterns. I was surprised I could do it, even though mine were fairly simple and crude. See me working hard to finish a sample to get it into the dye pot.  The photo with 4 patterns is of my accomplishment for Day One. The other two pieces were on Day Two. photo 3We visited the Toyota museum in Nagoya in the afternoon. It was heaven! They used to manufacture looms and spinning equipment. Now they make sophisticated power looms. Old and the new were shown and demonstrated. We saw the shuttle-less looms at slow motion. So we could see the rapier actually moving and carrying the wefts. Also in slow photo 4motion we saw the water jet method of shooting the wefts. So exciting to see these and other mechanisms up close and in slow motion. A working water wheel worked an old spinning machine! They make big spinning machines, too. All the old and looms as they progressed were there. The photo shows the huge space where the equipment is.
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Saw wild silk production Today

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We left our Japanese inn in Matsumoto ( on a train to Hataka and taxied to visit a wild silk living museum in Azumino City– southern part of Nagano Prefecture–called the Tensan Center. tenseness means the Wild silk, I think. We saw things I’ve never known about silk production in a great exhibit and video.  The eggs are put on oak trees to hatch. The silk worms eat the leaves of this oak and make their cocoons in the trees. This variety of silk has a much larger cocoon than regular silk that feed on mulberry leaves and the cocoons and silk are a lovely light green.

They sprinkle the eggs on drops of paste on paper and then attach them to the branches. They left some moths develop for breeding. A pair of moths is put in a small wicker cage to mate and the eggs are taken from the cages.  These eggs are about the size of capers, photo 4much bigger than regular silk moth eggs.  It was totally fascinating. It wasn’t the time for feeding on the trees, sadly, or to see them making the cocoons. There were two weavers weaving the lovely spun silk. I bought a gorgeous silk scarf–will need to have another show so I can wear it.Then soba place for lunch and trains back to Matsumoto then to Nagoya.  We met the group at the hotel, and a hot pot-like dinner.  We start class at 8:15 on Saturday.  What a glorious whirlwind it has been!
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First Day of Shibori Class

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This first photo shows my fingernails after my first dyeing! Don’t know if the will ever come clean. The second photo is one of the patterns we learned that we dyed today. The workshop is sponsored by The World Shibori Network. It was a surprise to see the big sign outside the classroom building.

Shibori is everywhere–big banners waving in the train photo 5station–even the sign for the restroom. The last picture is of a Shibori pattern on a Noran which is a curtain over a doorway.  I thought it might explain what I am talking about.  We are doing specialized tie dye.  At the end of the week we will come back to the town for their annual Shibori Festival. The town is Arimatsu which is near Nagoya. Class was only in the morning. In the afternoon we went to a flea market at a temple a train and subway from

photo 1Arimatsu. I got a Shibori scarf at a bargain price.

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A Day Going to a Weaving Company

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We took so many trains today I lost count–small, medium and the bullet train. We went to the town of Udea in the Nagano area surrounded by mountains. The name of the weaving company is: Koiwai-tsumugi. Www.htp:// The photos show the outside of the building which is a large, very old, beautiful traditional Japanese house in a residential neighborhood. The hand hewn beams in the weaving room

2013-05-15 at 19.57.54were lovely and worn. The daughter showed us around and answered every one of my weaving questions. Cathy’s two friends shepherded us on the trains and taxis and translated. There were about six looms with three2013-05-15 at 19.52.27 old ladies weaving the tsumugai cloth (spun silk weft yarn) for kimono, place mats and coasters. We saw the dying area and the warping area and the show room with things to buy–expensive, of course since everything was hand woven. It was heaven!  We bought bento box lunches at the station and ate in the showroom.

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More train rides as we went to Matsumoto. We admired the gorgeous castle (please Google it) on the taxi ride to a lovely Japanese inn. We had a bath, of course, and dinner. The four of us slept in our room on futons and tatami mats. We found WiFi on the second floor–available but not spoiling the tradition of the 300-year old inn.

A Wonderful Full Day in Tokyo

Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, and fashion school - Toyko Peggy Osterkamp
Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum
Peggy Osterkamp
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After croissants and coffee across the street from our hotel,Washington Shinjuku, we discovered we were next door to a famous costume museum, Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, and fashion school. It felt like FIT in New York.  The exhibit was a big one and beautiful–18th century European gowns and dresses in movies we knew and several that Princess DIana wore.  Here is a picture of one of the students studying the show.  I couldn’t resist asking for her picture!

After a lovely lunch of sashimi Cathy’s friend helped buy our train tickets for our advevture to silk weaving places on Thursday.

Then We walked an hour from our hotel to the Minami-Aoyama District. This is an areas on everyone’s list where the Issey Miyaki and other like designers have shops and where lots of young people are walking the streets in interesting costumes. We happened on an absolutely wonderful place.

Aoyama Flower Tea Shop Peggy Osterkamp
Aoyama Flower Tea Shop
Peggy Osterkamp

2013-05-14 at 23.42.55We were looking for a place to rest and have tea and saw a sign in front of the Aoyama Flower Market for a tea shop in the market.  The flowers were lovely but when we slid open the door to the tea shop we were totally transported! These pictures are of the tea shop at the Aoyama Flower Shop. We both had glorious raspberry parfaits. A large, black plastic bucket was underneath every stool–to put your purse and shopping bags in. This is a great idea.  I can’t say enough praise for our experience there.


We know for sure we are in japan

food 2We got settled in the hotel in Tokyo then went out to explore. It was surprising to see lots of people on the street, at 8:00 maybe going home from work. We are near a big subway station–Shinjuku Station. We knew we were in Japan for sure when we saw all the plastic food 

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displayed in front of the dozen or so food places in our big hotel. Cathy and I decided to have pot stickers–perfect for slight hunger before bedtime. The 10
1/2hour flight was easy.  Now to see if we can sleep all night. I love the Frenchi Toasto sign the best!


I’m Off to Japan with Yoshiko Wada on a Textile Tour

Plane to Japan
Just textiles! No shrines, gardens, just textiles and wonderful food and Japanese inns! I’m turning my bog into a travel blog with daily updates and photos of my adventures. From Tokyo we’ll go to a town with silk manufacturing. The tour begins in Arimatsu where we’ll learn shibori techniques and participate in the annual shibori festival. After that, more artists and crafts people along the way. We’ll end after the tour back in Tokyo and go to Yuki City to see tsmugi weaving.