Beauty of Oshima-tsumugi

What a wonderful YouTube video I found!
This video is about “Oshima tsumugi”. “Tsumugi” means pongee in Japanese. Oshima tsumugi is one of the pongee made at Amami Oshima Island, located at Kagoshima prefecture, Japan. Oshima tsumugi is light, feels nice, and lets air through and we can enjoy it as a daily stylish Kimono. Oshima tsumugi is well known as “Doro Oshima”. Raw silk dyed by mineral included in the clay.
The beautiful color which we call "crow's wet feather color" is made by this Doro (clay) dyeing technique and Yeddo hawthorn. The color changes by light. And more you wash, color will change gradually. It is said that it will become the most beautiful 100 year after made.

Doro dyeing technique requires great care. And they are eco-friendly.

- Making tips with Yeddo hawthorns which are indigenous at Amami Oshima Island.
- Boiling 600kg (about 1322lb) tips for half a day and extracting tannin acid.
- Soaking for a week to ferment.
- Obtaining about 1500-2000 Liter dye.

We can learn ecologically friendly dyeing after these multiple steps.
Tips are used as fuel for boiling the pot to make more dye. After using it for the fuel, huge amount of ash is used as fertilizer. Ash is also used to dye indigo dying previously. Basically, Yeddo hawthorns are slow-growing trees. More than 20-years-old trees are usually cut down for the use of dye. When they cut the trees, they do not cut at the foot of the trees. They leave the root to grow up again. And 7-8 year later, they can use the same trees again. They recycle not only the ash, but also Yeddo hawthorns themselves. There is no needlessness.

No wast… I believe that this is one of the superior points in Japanese culture.
I watch this powerful video many times. On the next blog,, I would like to write more about Oshima tsumugi.  I was very impressed to know that Oshima tsumugi kimono is made by wonderful craftsmen. And have a real desire to share these wonderful Kimono with people worldwide.


Shippo-yaki juwelry

My friend name Tomo placed her champlevé jewelry at exhibition “Japanese young contemporary craft & objects".
Exhibition was held at furniture store (the Red threads) in Nolita. I was invited to the opening reception.

Tomo’s champlevé jewelries are really nice not only for necklace but for OBI-DOME (accessory for Obi belt.).

Before the Edo era, champlevé jewelry decorated Japanese sword, house, and furniture. In Japanese word, Champlevé jewelry is called Shippou-Yaki and this name originated from seven treasures which were engrossed in the Buddhist texts.
As you may see from the picture, Tomo’s Shippou-Yaki is so beautiful that as if they are brightening by themselves. I thought it is wonderful that modern jewelries are made by Japanese traditional skills.

I was interested in Sippou-Yaki’s OBI-DOME so I investigate about them. In Meiji and early Showa era, OBI-DOME became popular as jewelry because of influenced by European culture for example art nouveau. At this time, many Shippo-Yaki OBI-DOMEs were made.
The development of OBI-DOME and Sippo-Yaki have same background, decoration of sword.
In the late Edo era, samurai gave their Netsuke or Menuki (decoration of sword) to their lover as an agreement of marriage. OBI-DOME is originally came from this Netsuke and Menuki. After Meiji era, “decree banning the wearing of swords” published and decoration of sword craftsman’s lost their job. So they started to make Kimono’s accessory for example OBIDOME.
I think, if we make modern Shippo-yaki OBI-DOME, Kimono style will look nicer.

This is "the Red threads" where exhibition hold.


Autumn reading

There is a Japanese book store “Kinokuniya” in NYC.
For the first time in a long while, I drop by the book store. We use internet to get information quickly. But I think book store is better than web in order to get some new ideas.
I was looking for a book which is useful to learn English, but finally I bought books related to Noh, Kabuki, and Bunraku. I could not even reach English text book area.

Every time I learn Japanese traditional arts, we always touch new discoveries.
I find many meanings which I had not pay attention to in Japan whenever I read a book. For example there are many black pines in front of the national theatre in Japan. These are too familiar to me to think carefully. Now, I have a distance from the national theater and it makes a chance to see the traditional arts from another side. I think this is a way to expand my view.

Talking about Kabuki costume, actors change their clothes when the situation changed. There is a technique which we call “BUKKAERI”. This is a technique to change the clothes quickly on the stage. They can change their clothes by removing the basing yarn. After removing the yarn, upper body costume drop and the costume will change completely.
They change their clothes in order to express their real thought or real character. This technique plays an important part especially in “Miarawashi”.
I think the technique and meanings of “BUKKAERI” is different from those of “HIKINUKI”, but some books say “BUKKAERI” is one of the “HIKINUKI”.
The stagecraft of Kabuki’s costume is important factor for the story order. I read the Kabuki book and it reminded me one of the traditional arts which I aspire.

This picture shows one of the Kabuki costume room we cannot see anymore since Kabukiza, one of the most popular kabuki theatre, is now completely renovated. I miss Kabukiza.


The first step to the World

The International Photography Awards(ipa) is one of the famous international photograph awards in the world.
The other day, the photos, which I joined as a Kimono stylist, got a Honorable Mention. A photographer Yusuke took these photos.
You can see our photos at the following ipa website.

We made a photo shooting this April. A makeup and hair artist who are active at NY, London, and Paris were joined our photo shooting. It’s been a pleasure to work with them.
During the photo shooting, we all were saying “Kimono is difficult!”
We had already decided the concept, but when we saw beautiful white models, we went blank. A makeup artist, Mr. Honda made dark contrast to them and made a balance with Kimono.
We are planning to make photo shooting with same members again.
I believe I took a first step to the world by working with them.

This backstage photo is one which was taken at the photo shoot.

I am looking forward to working with them again soon!


Yukata in the Caribbean resort

This summer, I went to Mexico. I stayed at resort hotel, “Riviera Maya” which is located at Yucatan Peninsula.
It was the first time to see cobalt blue Caribbean ocean. Nature color makes the ocean’s gradation beautiful.

I brought my Yukata which was tailored this year.

I stayed at the same hotel for a week. The hotel’s restaurant had “casual formal dress code.” I think “casual dress code” is difficult from “formal dress code.” Neither casual nor formal, and of course business suite does not suit at resort hotel.
I always think that Europeans and Americans, who are used to stay at resort hotels, dress up really nice. I ran out of Western clothes, so I decided to wear Yukata. Yukata is not casual formal, but I decided to overlook myself.

The Caribbean resort hotel seems not suitable for Yukata, but I thought it was nice to enjoy cool evening breeze with Yukata. (It looks like I am in Japanese –style hotel from the picture).
Yukata is comfortable to wear and it is cool. Also it is good where air conditional is too strong.. I thought maybe Yukata is all-purpose summer cloth in the world.

Hotel staff said something to me when I wore Yukata.
Near the Riviera Maya there is a famous resort city Cancun. There are many popular resort hotels in Cancun. One of the staff told me that he had seen wedding with Kimono at Cancun hotel.
I thought it is wonderful to wear Kimono at Caribbean ocean wedding.

Many people spoke to me when I wore Yukata.
“So beautiful!”, “Kimono!” etc.
I told the women “This is Yukata” when she spoke to me “Kimono!” But she said “I know.”

The hotel which I stayed had Sushi Bar. When I went to foreign countries, I always surprised how popular it is.

How amazing Japanese cuisine is!

It is nice to enjoy Caribbean sea wind at the bar with my Yukata.