The kimono arrived–promptly, as I have come to expect of Ichiroya. It is all that I could have wished for; it is so beautiful. From the full kimono picture, it is difficult to see all the wonderful shibori and subtly-dyed detail, but it is a joy to look at, to examine, and to discover new nuances of pattern and design. The color is more vibrant than the image from which I ordered the kimono, but I was already certain, from experience, that it would be the case. The close-up is only a small segmentof the design but it is possible to see the variety of ways in which the shibori has been used. I have always been fascinated with shibori; in case I haven’t already explained, shibori is shaped-resist dying that has been used for many centuries in many countries, Japan being perhaps the foremost.
Because they knew of my interest, Andrew and Linda, my son and daughter-in-law gave me this wonderful volume on shibori that I have had sitting in a prominent place and have probably perused and oohed and aahed over only once or twice since I received it. Last night, having hung the kimono in its place of honor, I brought out the book again and I was blown away. The part of the shibori story that I have been planning to tell is my discovery in the Museum of Kyoto of contemporary uses of this ancient artform, in other words, Shibori Now, which just happens to be the subtitle of the book. I bought these beautiful scarves in Kyoto as gifts and Brent bought the single one for me.
You would think that bringing to Japan one of my bags, made entirely of traditional Japanese patterns like the wonderful large wave or seigaiha pattern on the front flap–repeated many times over on our Tokyo hotel’s elevator doors for example, would be superfluous, like bringing coals…., but I have never had such an enthusiastic response. We were first checking out a department store in Osaka and wandered into one department where we attempted to communicate with a saleswoman about the various kimonos. At one point she pointed admiringly at my bag and when I indicated to her that I had made it myself, she clapped appreciatively. The same response–with variations–came from a Ryokan matron, a taxi driver, a museum shop salesgirl, and various and sundry other folks.
Those Japanese have such good taste.
I have written much about my working with traditional Japanese patterns and deconstructed kimonos, a search that has taken many hours of my retirement–a joyous search, I might add, because I have always been fascinated with the Japanese aesthetic. I can probably trace that passion back to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and one of the finest collections I know of Japanese art and design. Mass Art was just a stone’s throw away and the teachers there were fond of using the Museum’s collection as source material for assignments. I can even remember a fabric design–probably my first–using the ubiquitous stylized waves of Japanese art. So I was excited that a major exhibition of “Kosode: Haute Coutoure Kimonos of the Edo Period” would be at the Suntory Museum in Tokyo when we were there. While we were in Kyoto, we had visited the textile museum and arrived in time to see a fashion show of contemporary kimonos which, while pretty, were less than awe-inspiring. Most of the kimonos sold on Ichiroya‘s web site–and certainly many of those I had bought in order to deconstruct them–were far more compelling. Continue reading Japan: The Art of the Kimono
Many respondents regretted the fact that I hadn’t documented Brent’s Tokyo performance. In answer, I am posting a picture of the designated spot where he stood, the pink awning, taken with my iPhone–the only camera I brought to Japan–from my 23rd floor vantage point. You can see the awning on the right side of the picture, just about in the middle (from top to bottom).
There is a Korean performance artist–Kim Sooja–whose videotaped performance, A Needle Woman, consists of the artist, wearing traditional dress with a long braid down her back, seen only from the back, standing very still in one spot in the center of crowded areas of major cities–Tokyo, Singapore, Delhi, New York, London etc.–while rushing pedestrians maneuver around her.
Brent and I are presently in Tokyo; I have made loads of notes and will post some experiences, but this is my first chance to go online for any extended length of time. It has been extremely hot since we arrived more than a week ago, first in Osaka then in Kyoto which appears to be the hottest spot in Japan with temperatures in the high nineties–or thirties, depending upon how you’re measuring, and now, in Tokyo the temperature is hovering around the ninety mark. We were out earlier in the day, then walked a few blocks to lunch and returned to the cool of the hotel room where Brent slept off his persistent sinus headache. Continue reading Japan: Performance