Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 12

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 12 – Yonezawa. We are now in the north on the main island of Japan in mountainous countryside. Cathy were here in May and we saw some of the same things today but had more in depth information with dignitaries and Yoshiko Wada telling about things. Our first stop in Yonezawa was at the Sake Brewing Museum Toko no Sakagura. [click any image to enlarge]

This beautiful garden at the Saki Museum had big trees pruned just right. In the winter the snow is deep and comes up to the eves. To protect the precious trees from the weight of the snow structures like T-pees are built around each tree. The framework is covered with smooth wood so the snow would slide off. All this effort shows the value placed on this garden by the people in Yonezawa.

The beams inside the museum had to be reinforced with poles in the winter to keep the roof from caving in. That’s a lot of heavy wet snow! I’ve just now put seeing this area in the wintertime on my bucket list!!

In the old days to time how much how longbto give each process in the saki making the workers sang songs. There were songs especially for each step in the process. This man was retired but came in to show us around. When it was discovered about the songs he sang some for us. What a treat.

Almost at the end of the day we stopped at this shrine. This was our view as we came upon it in a wooded area.

It was gorgeous with a thick thatched roof and lots of wood carving under the eves. So beautiful all by itself with other small shrines on little paths nearby.

Our last stop was to stop at the shop of a wood carver and basket maker. He make beautiful baskets as well.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 11

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 11 – Tokyo Tower reflected in a nearby building near our hotel—Shiba Park Hotel. One day here to do everything there is to do in Tokyo. We all spread out after Yoshiko gave us tips on where we might like to go.

My first stop today was to the Amuse Museum in the Asakusa area that is well known for its exhibitions on “boro “ — old cloths with patches of rags and scraps of cotton. It was done in northern Japan where cotton was precious and warmer than the hemp cloth that they made. The rags were shipped from the southern regions where the climate was warm enough to grow cotton.

In an exhibit case in the Amuse Museum. Something other than boro but made and used by poor farmers. Guess what they are.

 I thought this was very interesting, especially the fins on the bottom.











I’ve been to this museum a few times so I really thought took time this time to read some of the labels. They were touching.

This really moved me. It was at the beginning of the boro section.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 10

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 10 – Mt. Fuji from the bullet train to Tokyo. My best view ever. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it completely and it always seems to sneak up on me. This time I had a window seat and was on the correct side of the train! [click on any image to enlarge]

We went to the International Contemporary Shibori Exhibition at Tama Art University Art Museum. This was my favorite piece in a terrific show. It’s by Lucy Arai who is from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has just become a special friend on the trip.

Lucy Arai beside her piece on the exhibition.

Another favorite at the show. The artist has been on the trip with us and is one of the people I hang with. I was thrilled to see her work in the show. I only know that she is Carolina (Caro-Leena) from Chile.

I really liked this one. I’m not absolutely sure it is a garment.

 I really liked this one a lot.

Of course I related to this one.

I’m proud of this Bay Area artist—Ana Lisa Hedstrom. I adore anything she does and I own a couple of her art to wear clothes. These are paper—something I plan to begin exploring soon.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 9

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 9 – (Facebook + email readers must view the videos on my website – just click the link) This woman was dressed in the stage for us on stage at a reception for our last night in Nagoya. This would be the dress for a very high up person indeed. It was fascinating to see how each layer was added. The model only moved her eyes for the 20or 30 minutes it took for to women to dress her—one on front on her knees and one in back putting on the layers. Both worked together to get everything arranged perfectly.

Here you can see her from the side. Perhaps you can count the kimonos that she has on. Every sleeve had to be tucked as a arch layer was added. I forget how many kilos we were told the outfit weighed but she could walk around on the stage. No on was to see her face; that’s why it’s covered.

Here is a 1 minute video showing the women adding a kimono and how the sleeves are put in place.

This performance was at the reception. Notice the puppet moving and the person manipulating it underneath it.

This big arrangement had a puppet on top and you can barely see its arm is moving. All the action (slow and subtle) was controlled by the group of men below.

Here’s a bride and groom all dressed traditionally along with our previous aristocrat. It was a lovely show. The bride and was the climax after 10 or so lovely women in gorgeous kimono modeled on stage.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 8

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 8 – Here is Shibori. This is what we came to see and learn. Today we took a bus in to Nagoya to 3 museums—all different and very enjoyable. This old kimono was in a shibori exhibition in the Nagoya castle. [click any image to enlarge]

Another magnificent old shibori kimono in the Nagoya castle exhibit. Shibori is many forms of tie dye. Where the cloth is tied it resists the dye. With this one a whole lot of tying was required to cover so much of the cloth to get all the white undyed area. The tied cloth is immersed in the dye so it took a lot to resist being dyed blue in an indigo dye vat.

Here is a large piece of cloth tied before dyeing. It very likely a whole kimono length.

Another shibori dyed kimono. I think this is the scarce purple dye Cathy and I saw. Too tired to think of the name of the dye.

Another fantastic one.

Yet another type. All these have been in exhibitions we’ve seen.

The fine scale here meant finely spaced ties. For this one and the previous one cloths were wrapped on poles and scrunched tightly to resist the dye.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 7

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 7 – The real symposium began with me taking 3 workshops. This was dying with akane which is Japanese madder. Lovely color. I tied a knot in the cloth before dyeing to get the variation in the color this was dyed using alum as a mordant.

More akane. The darkest color used camellia ash for the mordant. The lightest had no mordant. Medium color used alum.

Kakishibu workshop. That means dyeing with green persimmons. I learned some more but it was a basic workshop.

Here is paper we tie dyed and dyed with the persimmon dye.

Workshop to dye with bengara a pigment that is red ocher in color usually. Our artist figured out how to get many colors. We folded the cloth like a flag is done and clamped wood shapes to make the patterns when dyeing. This was my second piece which I was happy with.

My first bengara pigment piece. Came out better than I expected. We were in a hurry to get something in the dye. I had no idea what I would get. I manipulated the small triangles which makes them fuzzy rather than crisp.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 6

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 6 – The famous rock garden at Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto. I’ve been here 3 times and this small garden is as beautiful as the first time. The mud walls are especially gorgeous. Yoshiko got us going at 7:30 that morning so we could be the first group to visit. We had the whole place to ourselves. As we left boards of students came in. The next photo a friend took of me sitting there. It was a very hot day and I wore a hemp short kimono that I’d gotten at the flea market the day before. Thankfully I had 2 clothespins to hold it closed. It was completely open under the arms and Boy did I love the air circulating.

I spent a half hour just sitting peacefully.

The Silver Pavilion in Kyoto. I love this little jewel. There is a gold pavilion too and is covered in gold. This one never got its silver coating but is lovely and the garden is too.

Here you get a view of the Silver Pavilion with the cone shaped mound of sand in the garden. I was told long ago that was to look like you were viewing the moon from inside the Pavilion. I’ve always loved that cone of sand.

After the morning of the most special temples we went shopping. Here is the dye supply shop I love. Did a lot of “damage” here again by buying small pieces of many different fabrics to dye. Here you can see rolls of white fabrics for dyeing. The name of the shop is Tanakanao. All kinds of dye supplies are there. I got a package of soot for dyeing.

More at the dye shop. There were piles of different fabrics you could buy. Each type had a sample to show what it would look like after dyeing. There were shelves and shelves of things.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 5

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 5 – Last night at Benese Park Hotel. Much art around inside. Here I am with Yoshiko Wada our fabulous leader. I can’t think of the famous artist behind us.

Lunch at the hotel’s museum was squid ink soup. Delicious but too thick to dye a napkin.

One of the courses in our Japanese dinner had a tidbit on pine needles.

This is inside the Kyoto train station. Gorgeous we were careful not to get lost in it.

An interesting way to use a square furoshiki.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 4

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 4 – An art site on Teshima Island. We took our little boat to this island in the rain but it cleared when we got to this island to see more art installations. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside any of the sites so these were post cards I got. Sort of innocent looking but WOW inside. It is about the size of half a football field. A lot of people could fit inside but only a few when I went in.

Here’s the inside. We were instructed to be quiet and listen for any sounds of water and not to touch any wet places on the floor. We took off our shoes and went inside.

Here’s a peek inside the entrance where it was allowed to take photos. All was silent inside and we slowly walked around and noticed very subtle things.

On the floor I soon found drops of water and small puddles here and there. I really had to watch were I stepped. Then I noticed some of the drops were very slowly growing bigger. Then some drops overflowed and started making rivlets and some of them ran into other drops and they joined to make little rivlets and I watched with fascination as the drops ran into others and ended up in a puddle. This is hard to explain. Looking closely I could see a tiny ball with water dripping out of it which made the drops enlarge. There were some teeny tiny black dots that fed tiny drops. And some of the tiny black dots were actually holes so the water drained out and the puddle disappeared. This photo from a post card was out of focus but you can see some drops. We didn’t see anything that looked like the metal rings in the photo. All so subtle and completely absorbing and wonderfully inventive. The guide outside said it was a secret how everything was controlled. Obviously the floor and the water droplets acted like oil and water not mixing. I loved it!

My photo outside.

Another installation on Teshima Island. This is called Yokoo House and I liked the red areas. There were other paintings on the mysterious walls too. This is the entrance.

An enclosed garden inside.

Looking at the garden through a red window!! It was fascinating to see how the colors changed.

A look inside the women’s restroom!

This “ room” was Waterfall. It was a very tall cylindrical room with a mirror at the top. Maybe the mirror on top made it look taller. The walls were covered with photos of waterfalls. All of the installations we saw yesterday. It took much of today to absorb all of it. It was glorious to take the day off.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Day 3

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Day 3 – On day 3 we took a small boat to visit islands with art installations. This was the view as we approached the island called Inujima which was named Dog Island after a large rock that resembled a dog. This is an architectural art work that was made out of the ruins of a copper refinery. It was more creative than one could ever ever imagine. Our first art experience on our first island. It now is the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum—a very large installation.

This is what the copper refinery was like in the early 20th century. These photos are from a booklet I bought at the museum.

There were many walls made of brick made of waste that I think is called slag. Many walls were made on the site made of this black material.

This was the entry into the inside of the museum. There were mirrors that were disorienting at the many corners. When I thought to go straight I would be banging into a mirror forcing me to turn the corner. It was pretty dark inside with bits of light coming from the outside somehow.

This room is what we entered at the end of the hall of corner mirrors. Unbelievably odd and unusual.

A few of us were ushered into a small square room. With the doors closed we saw this video which was mirrored so we were surrounded. You know how mirrors can work to see to infinity. That’s what it was like.

This is what you saw when you went into a stall in the women’s restroom.

One of the ruined buildings being over run gradually with vegetation. Everything was visually stunning.

More of the ruins that made up the museum.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Day 2

Shibori Symposium – Day 2 of Inland Sea & Kyoto Pre-Symposium Tour. I’m at the place that is supposed to be the highlight of the Inland Sea part of the tour but I am so full of what we’ve seen already that I’m taking the morning to absorb the art seen and enjoy the patio on our room. I hear surf, feel a delicious soft breeze and taking a breath before the busy Kyoto days and then the symposium begins. There are 33 on this tour from all over and all doing interesting art work.

This is the Benesse House Park Hotel on the island of Naoshima which is surrounded by art outdoors as well as inside. Nothing is usual about this architecture and art. My roommate says it’s called “ brutal architecture “. It’s modern elegant simple comfortable with wood glass and lots of concrete. It’s so peaceful sitting and enjoying relaxing listening to the surf.

Example number one of the art I see from my private patio.

Example two. The large lawn is interspersed with concrete walls and spaces. I see the tops of the walls which are level with the ground. This space is below ground level. It’s another artwork seen from my patio. There are works of art to be visited around the island via a shuttle bus. Everyone else is exploring it at their own space. I’m enjoying being alone. There are art installations on other islands that we have seen. And that is what I was ant to absorb today. I’ll show them in another post.

These “sticks” move from side to side. On the way to dinner last night I saw the rest of the moving sculpture from ground level! The art projects on these islands are unbelievably creative interesting and inspiring.

The Inland Sea from my patio. Just now I see a big tanker ship going by!

This is how my saki was served at last nights elegant dinner. Breakfast was a buffet that was as large as I’ve ever seen. Cappuccinos were available of course and last night I had a decaf espresso. This is a fine place. Tonight will be a special Japanese dinner. We had a choice. That or French dinner. I chose Japanese. The setting is supposed to be wonderful.

Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Day 1

Shibori Symposium – Day 1 (Facebook Viewers – Go to my blog to see the videos) – I led a group of us on the train to Nagoya to see an utterly fantastic museum. Toyota originally was a loom making company. Old looms complete with guides/weavers to work them are there and it’s totally wonderful.

This old loom was run by peddling. It was great to have guides hanging around to run the various looms and explain how they work.

Mr Toyoda got the idea uto motorize a bicycle in 1930 which led him to make his first car in 1933. 1936 was when he made his first passenger car.

Here robots are seen at work. This was so fascinating.

Getting an old power loom going. Wait until it gets started and notice all the pulleys in the museum. Each one ran a loom. Notice too the metal things going up and down slightly behind the shafts. If a thread breaks it’s metal piece will fall down and break the connection and stop the loom. Now I understand why videos need editing! The stuff is truly interesting but making a video of it is hard to keep in mind where the camera is. Or to remember to stop the video.

Be patient a little then you will see how a modern power loom used forced air to move the weft across. The weft thread is red in the video. There are several air jets across the loom that continuously force the weft along. Again at lightening speed. Air is used for cotton weft threads and water for weaving with polyester. Interesting isn’t it?

This close up shows how a power loom today moves the weft between the warp threads by force of water. The display was set up so you could push a button to start the action. The water forces the thread through and the it is cut and the next thread is shot across the warlords. All st lightening speed.

Jacket to be shared!

Here’s the jacket–Cathy Cerny and I are sharing it. I have the summer when I go to Japan and Cathy has the fall when her exhibition opens in the fall. After that we’ll dicide how the sharing will go. Neither one of us could bear to part with it.

Here’s a map of where I’ll be for the 11th International Shibori Symposium. I’ll begin around June 23rd or so. Bye for now! 

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 23

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 23 – Parting sights Friday from Tokyo. Old and new side be side.

Clouds and skyline.

After the fantastic textile reception on our night.

The reception was in a gallery on the Ginza. The show was of furniture by G Nagashima and textiles. One room was an International show of cutting edge textiles. It included large and small work—very exciting. The other room was of wonderful innovative Japanese kimono lengths. One woman we met wove her fabric in a gauze weave out of shinafu—fibers from linden wood bark. She gave us business card folders out of that fabric. When we went to visit where it was made we couldn’t afford a thing. It was very special. Her obi was woven with shifu—weft was made of threads made out of paper. Another length was woven with zenmai threads— fibers made of ferns. We had searched for it but it was too rare to find some.

Our last visit to our favorite tea house inside a flower shop.

Tea was delicious but the ice cream dish with rose buds and rose jelly nuts other things I couldn’t identify was sublime. They were still featuring peonies.

A video of the flower shop at the tea place.

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 22

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 22 – We went by subways and trains (I think we did) to get to the big monthly flea market in the town of Kawagoe. By now I’ve been there 3 times so it didn’t seem daunting at all. I got 3 old cotton kimonos to use for fabric to dye and finally some skeins of sashiko threads. I just couldn’t accept that it was only available in small packages. Tonight I spent doing preliminary packing. I bought a big carton from the front desk at our hotel and will take it to them to send home tomorrow. It will cost an arm and a leg. Next trip I’ve got to leave more room in my suitcases when I leave home. I will take a good look when I unpack and take note of what I didn’t use.

This is the map of the subways and trains in Tokyo. Cathy’s copy is almost worn out. I always had mine at the ready in case she asked for it. Then I just tag along. We transfer all over the place and walk miles and miles underground from one train line to another. You can see from the map that the lines are color coded. Cathy tells me which line to look for in the maze underground. There are thousands of steps up and down to make connections as well as enter and exit from ground level. We are thankful when there is an escalator going our direction or better yet an elevator.

There are signs all over the place to guide you in the subways. We have cards and put $100 on it when we arrived. Then you just tap your card when going through the gates. You need that card at the ready because you may exit and enter several times when executing a transfer. I think we may have around $60 left on our cards—in preparation for another trip hopefully. I’ll be using mine when I come back mid June for the International Shibori Symposium.

This is one of many maps in a subway station. It’s important to get out at the right gate or you’ll have a huge walk when you get above to ground level. Cathy is amazing at this.

This was a sign on a track at a train station where we transferred today getting back from the flea market. They are close and on time. You could easily walk on the wrong train if not careful. Our train was for 13:50 if I remember.

One of many posters and signs telling you what to do and not to do in the subways. One sign on the escalator at a department store had a graphic sign saying not to use your iPhone while on the escalator. Tomorrow is our last day and we plan to hit our favorite places again. There is an art exhibition relating to textiles I assume opening tomorrow night which should be interesting.

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 21

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 21 – A nice ball of fiber made from the bark of linden wood trees. The thread and cloth made from it is called shinafu. I loved the shape of the ball which is wound around the thumb. This one is about the size of a croquet ball. It’s the biggest one I’ve seen. They weighed it to determine the price It was unaffordable. I’d like to make them as sculptures. The thread pulls out from the hole in the center. That will be my post for today. We have to get up early to get to a big flea market in the morning. We went to a small one today. Unfortunately I am still buying stuff that can’t be resisted.

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 20

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 20 – Tokyo Tower. A welcome sight the tower was as we neared our Shiba Park Hotel after another full day.

After lunch and two folk art exhibits with two Tokyo friends Cathy and I returned to the fabric store in the Shinjuku area. I wanted more wool because when I washed a little piece in the bathroom sink last night it fulled (shrank nicely) easily. I also wanted the special thread for sashiko stitching. Cathy wanted some of the wool, too.

Shinjuku was really crowded today, Saturday. Yesterday it was so bad we stopped for dinner to avoid the rush hour going home on the subway. This is a photo of people waiting for the light to change.

This is a Starbucks on the third floor of a big building in Shinjuku. This is the line waiting to order—there were 18 people in that line. There were about 20 in the line waiting for their drinks. It was the third or fourth place we tried to get a coffee—all too crowded. We thought no one would know about this place on the third floor. Boy were we wrong. Cathy lined up to get a table while I went for the drinks. A mad house it was.

We stopped to get food to take back to the hotel for dinner. Another mad house. There are food courts in the basements of the many department stores. We’ve made many meals this way and found bakeries too.

This octopus salad was my main course. I also had a tomato salad and a salad with avocado and fresh vegetables. All delicious to eat wearing my pajamas and the hotel’s free slippers.

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 19

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 19 – Finally arrived at Mrs Sooma’s to shop. We got some nice things.

We took the train to Tokyo today. Left at 7:38 and arrived at 1:24 to hot and humid weather and crowds of people. We met a friend who took us to a fabric shop where fashion students go. I bought these linens and silks and one lovely wool for dyeing.

Okadaya fabric store was 5 floors chock full of fabrics. Thank goodness I had in mind what to look for.

Another shot in the fabric store, Okadaya. Originally I wanted light weight wool that was loosely woven and see through. I got one piece then moved on to linens and then quickly to silk organza which dyes fantastically well. Then we got out of there before getting overwhelmed. I am excited about dyeing them with the natural dyes that are new to me.

Our last views of rice fields from the bullet train.

It always surprises me to see the houses so crowded together.

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 18

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 18 – A creative sashiko vest. Today we were taken to Towada about an hour drive from our hotel in Hon-Hachinohe by a textile dealer we met the other day at a flea market in Morioka. She brought along her friend who spoke great English. Her friend was wearing this lovely subtle vest she created from two old kimono fabrics. Here is the inside of the vest showing sashiko stitching covering it completely. The patch was to cover a hole in the fabric. She really gave the old fabrics a new look. Click to enlarge to see the original cloth.

Here’s a closer look at the fabric she created. She was shy so I will keep her identity secret.

Here is the back of the vest. It was her original design.

Vest front. Designed by an artist.

Our first stop in Towada was to visit the Takumi Studio which is chock full of looms making sakiori cloth using bits of rags. People can come in and weave for a small fee for an hour to make a table mat. The looms were the same type that were in yesterday’s post. This photo shows the fronts of a row of looms.

The back of one of the looms.

I just liked this view down a row of looms. The cords are made of rags or fabric made into cords. The other end of the cord is a loop which goes around the weaver’s ankle. When the ankle pulls back it pulls the end of the bow-like piece down which raises the other end of the bow which raises the heddle bar that lifts half of the threads while weaving.

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 17

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 17 – Hon Hachinohe, Japan. This is our last stop before ending up in Tokyo for 5 nights. The photo is of the technique we came here to see. The technique is called “hashizashi”. I took this photo in the museum here; it’s a variation of sashiko. It’s a form of stitching diamonds and instead of working the needle like in kogin the needle goes into the fabric perpendicular to the cloth one stitch at a time. The video looked like a blunt needle went between the threads of the foundation cloth. I’m feeling pretty vague about the technique still.

This technique seems to be traditionally done on aprons. I hope we’ll get more information tomorrow. The technique is called hashizashi.

We expected to find sakiori cloth woven in this area as well as the diamond pattern stitching, called “hashizashi”. We saw a woman weaving it in a shop. It was interesting to actually see her weaving and the motions she did and the loom. This photo shows the fabric which is fairly thick since it is woven with strips of cloth like for rag rugs we are familiar with.

Here is the woman weaving the sakiori cloth. She randomly selected different colors of rags, choosing from some bundles of rags she had by the loom. This is an old technique used to make sashes for the kimono called obi. The old ones I have are so soft and subtle compared with these new ones where the colors are not faded and are much brighter.

Click to enlarge We were braver tonight for our dinner “restaurant “ and stoped in this tiny stall in a lovely little alley. There was room for a very small charcoal fire ringed with pieces of fish on sticks cooking and 6 tiny stools.

Here are the fish grilling around the fire ring. The ones that are cooked are standing away from the fire. Cathy had the best salmon she ever tasted and I had a delicious fish. This town/city? is on the coast with a big port and known for fishing.

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 16


Japan Tour 2018 – Day 16 – Kogan Stitching a development from Sashiko. This type of stitching is only in the Tsugaru area in northern Japan and that’s the reason we are here. It differs from the sashiko that I’ve seen before is the patterns but it is done with a blunt needle and the threads of the foundation cloth are counted. Sashiko with which I’ve been slightly familiar is done with a sharp pointed needle. It was usually done with a thick white thread on indigo fabric. It was interesting to find out that when it got old and dirty it was over dyed with indigo. The stitches were still there but barely seen if it was dyed a very dark shade.

We started out with breakfast at Starbucks which was in an old historic building and not having a plan but we knew we wanted to see the kogin fabric and maybe sashiko as well. A stop at the visitors bureau on the way back to our hotel gave us some leads marked on a map. We chose this shop which turned into a gold mine. We forgot to take pictures as what happens when one gets involved so here is the business card with the contact information. Minako Hikima’s shop had lovely things to sell as well as supplies for stitching. After some conversation she offered to take us to a famous kogin teacher and see her wonderful collection of old kimono fabrics. What luck for us!!

This is where we were taken. We had tried to get here twice but the phone recording said only by reservation so it was really lucky for us that we got to go there. It is the gallery of Mrs. Yoko Sato famous as an artist collector and teacher. It was just grand to see and learn about so many of the patterns used and the histories of the different types. A video at the end of this post shows her stitching and the interesting way it’s done and how she uses the needle.

On the way from our last stop at an indigo shop we saw this man cleaning up after pruning this big pine tree. There was a huge amount of pine needles to sweep up. I’m told they pluck individual needles to accomplish such gorgeous trees in Japan.

For dinner we chose a place we saw last night but it was fully booked. We tried our hotel and they didn’t serve dinner but suggested a little place down the street. We peeked in and went into a small neighborhood sushi and yakatoti restaurant where a customer welcomed us and bought us a bottle of sake. We were quite the topic of conversation and they were surprised we could use chopsticks. And we all did pretty good with sign language and laughter. Here we are after finishing off the sake.

Here’s the video of Mrs Sato stitching. Notice how she holds the needle and uses her special needle and how she tensions the stitching.

Japan Tour 2018 – Hirosaki Night Time Storefront Gallery

Japan Tour 2018 – Hirosaki – Night Time Storefront Gallery – [to view slideshow click HERE and/or click the first photo below]
A mosaic of night life scenes taken tonight in the town of Hirosaki. Our hotel is in the bar district and many of the door ways and “storefronts” were lovely and/or interesting. There were so many taxis waiting around. Made me think of the Broadway district in San Francisco years ago. 

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 15

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 15 – We are in the town of Hirosaki which is sashiko country. The cloth is sometimes covered with stitching and sometimes white stitching in vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines. The stitching is done on one or more layers of cloth. Originally it was for mending and later to make cloth heavier for warmth. There are several types of designs and reading about all of this is terribly fascinating. We went to the Hirosaki Koginzashi Institute and saw a lovely collection of old kimonos and patterns.

The Institute is a place where local women bring in sashiko pieces they have been commissioned to stitch. Here are two women having their work checked in and recorded.

The women are given pieces cut carefully one by one by women at the Institute and assigned what designs to stitch at home. There is an enormous inventory there of stitched items to go to shops for retail from little coasters to buttons to larger bags.

This old kimono was once had white stitching on dark blue indigo cloth. After some aging it was completely over-dyed in indigo almost obliterating the intricate stitching pattern.

This is a pattern on a short kimono- like jacket that Cathy and I found in a little dusty antique shop. We are “fighting “ over who gets to have it. I saw it first but we agreed ahead of time if we both wanted the same thing we would flip a coin or negotiate. So we will see what else comes up and decide who gets it. I passionately want to have it. The indigo is a light shade because people couldn’t afford to pay for many dips in the dye to make a darker shade. And it fits me perfectly and is very wearable and the fabric is strong even though it is old. [see some Instagram comments below]

  • finniganh Peggy do you think this was done in part using the ikat method?
  • tludlowhunter Love it! I’m pulling for you to win !!
  • lisascenic I like the way this is both structured and unstructured.
  • shiborigirl Love the combo of kasuri, sashiko and indigo!
  • peggyoster@finniganh yes there is ikat too
  • ysabelladreamer A Solomonic solution, though I am not Solomon, would be to SHARE. It on a weekly monthly or yearly basis. Determine the time set dates and exchange it!!!! It would be the Solomon Ikat short kimono….
  • ysabelladreamer I must say it is a wonderfully executed gorgeous Ikat. The star pattern of stitching is extraordinary. It almost looks like a tie die. But you could not do tie-die and ikat on the same fabric, I think …. The shade of indigo is so perfect as an old looking piece. For you who knows so much about textiles, techniques of weaving, the process of indigo, tie dye, embroidery and much more: this is a found “gem” ( i would love to have it too!!!) Since you saw it first, i am rooting for you to have it (Solomonic solutions are puzzling but if you decide on it put it on writing it helps clear the mind) Does Cathy knowledge of textiles rivals yours?
  • peggyoster Yes she knows her stuff. Interesting way to settle this – will let you know.

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 13

Japan Tour 2018 – Day 13 – Today we visited the stencil dyer, Mr Shintaro Ono in his shop and gallery. He showed us how stencils were used on cloth and then his collection of textiles in the gallery.

This elaborate old doll in Mr. Ono’s collection really impressed me. I’m told it is of an empress and a figure often associated with Girls Day. It was large—at least 2’ high.

Mr. Ono in his shop in front of a noran dyed with one of his hundreds of traditional stencils. If you visit me you will see it hanging in my window. I was completely seduced by it even though the window behind it is distracting.

Here is Cathy shopping. This is a typical area in a traditional shop in Japan.

We did some shopping in this antique store. China and textiles were the featured items. The aisles were narrow as seen here and moving by one another with all the old dishes on display was a challenge. Now I know what “a bull in a china shop” is really like. We are still muttering about a large old textile with the traditional purple dye. We are thinking of sharing it. We will go back tomorrow if the shop is open on Sunday and decide what to do. The muted purple dye was gorgeous— made from the roots from old wild plants that are not allowed to be used anymore.

Here we are after a hard day of shopping after ice cream and a coffee. It rained all day and was really cold and windy. We were glad for our raincoats. I really needed my wool beret. We heard there was some serious flooding where we’d been in Murakami last week. Photos on TV showed water in the rice paddies over flowing their dikes.