From Mt. Fugi (to read last week’s post, click here) we took the bullet train to Kyoto (an experience in itself)
and stayed in a luxurious hotel in an area of the city that was fun to explore.
On Friday we visited Arimatsu town. This ancient area dates back to 1608, and is known as the center of shibori or tie-dyeing. The 400 year success of Arimatsu Shibori began when the lord of Owari decided to protect the industry as the region’s special product and gave credit to Takeda Shokuro. We were invited into the “House of Takeda”
and were able to meet Mr. Takeda who is a direct descendant. He loved sharing his knowledge of shibori as well as some wonderful samples. He was very excited and it was difficult to get a photo of him holding still ?.
I found the samples fascinating as I didn’t realize that after the fabric has been stitched, dyed, and the stitches have been removed; the silk or cotton fabrics are very three dimensional and almost take on an elastic property prior to pressing:
The items in the gift shop were enticing and I must admit I did support the Takeda house a bit! From there we walked down the main street of Arimatsu town towards the Shibori Museum where we were treated to a wonderful shibori dyeing class – but those photos are for another post.
The following day we had a completely different experience when we were invited into the home of Yoshiko Jinzenji.
Yoshiko is an award winning fiber artist who has been quilting for over three decades. Her work is in the permanent collections of the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, NE, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, just to name a few. She lived in Bali for 25 years and discovered a way to dye fabric white using bamboo dyes she created. Since she has moved back to Kyoto, she has designed her own home, and now teaches cooking classes. What an amazing woman! We were invited into her home, provided slippers when we removed our shoes, found cushions to sit on and were enthralled and entertained by Yoshiko’s stories and quilts
while her friends (who are also her students)
served us cookies and tea.
Click here to read about this phenomenally talented, gracious, and charming woman. I assure you, you will enjoy reading her story!
The last day of our trip we visited Aizenkobo
and learned all about indigo dye. The married couple who are “Aizenkobo” were delightful.
He taught in the US for many years, yet she was his “very proud” interpreter. They were overwhelmingly generous with stories and samples of his multigenerational link to the indigo dyeing industry.
He talked about the process for making indigo,
and actually burned a piece of dyed fabric to show how it made the cloth fire retardant.
I had the honor of modeling one of their garments:
The samples of ikat were what I found the most interesting. The threads are shibori dyed before the fabric is woven. Here he is holding up a bundle of tied THREADS after it has been dyed. You can see the regularly spaced white areas where the tying kept the dye from penetrating the fibers:
In the following piece the dark blue/light blue portions that look like crayfish were made by using a solid indigo thread for the warp and the tie dyed thread for the weft.
In the indigo/white portions both of the threads were tie dyed and woven to meet up and create the design. I can’t even imagine the planning and effort that go into this process. I have been continually amazed by the work of these talented Japanese artists!
At this point I haven’t even touched on the classes we were able to take. Stay tuned for next week’s post!