Thursday, July 21, 2016

Almost home

I finally made it to Orihime´s shrine inside the Imamiya shrine. As you can tell by the massive shuttles, there is another just out of vision to the left, this is a shrine for weavers. I gave Orihime a coin and made her a promise. One thing I don´t undertand is why I have to give her some money and then give her a promise as well. What do I get for my 2 cents?  The Imamiya shrine is also known for the 2 shops that face each other on the approach through the east gate, one is 1000 years old, the other 400. They both serve the same thing, little roasted rice cakes on a skewer with a super sweet syrup and a nice cold tea. I found you need to eat the cakes quite quickly because as they cool they become very chewy. I loved them.

Just around the corner from the shrine is Mr. Komori´s 2nd hand weaving supply shop. He was so distracted with what he was reading he didn´t even notice I was there. Once he did realize I was there, we couldn´t understand a word of what each other was saying. His lovely wife quickly brought us some iced coffee, which was random and very welcome. We somehow managed to understand each other, and after about an hour of pointing at things, making drawings and many gestures, I got a dismantled goko swift and later with the help of Mr. Komori´s daughter, I finally managed to get a kiwaku winder as well. 

Mid week fire crackers to liven things up at the school.

Heaven is a matcha pancake. Or 2, in this case.

Gion festival came and went in a flash. The beautifully decorated floats are displayed the days days preceding the parade and at night the streets come to life with light, food and music. 

A quick visit to Ohara to stock up on shiso juice and jam and to visit Hosen-in temple. The main hall of this temple has as magnificent view to a beautiful garden with a 700 year old matsu that is shaped like mount Fuji. It is a magnificent tree. It is difficult not to admire it an it is said that it is difficult to leave the temple due to the beauty of the gardens. As you admire the tree you are brought tea and a small sweet. There is one detail, however, about the temple that made me feel very sad and the air a little heavy and difficult to breathe. Some of the wooden boards used to make the ceiling of the temple were recycled from Fushimi castle after it was dismantled in 1623. Around the year 1600 upon losing their castle, 380 samurai commited ritual suicide realizing they would otherwise be captured. Their blood stained the floor boards. After many years in storage, these were distributed throughout 7 temples in Kyoto to honor those deceased. You can see a face on one of the boards and other marks that resemble feet, hands. It was just terribly sad. I had to leave after all.

And back to Kasuri an the final stretch home. All tied, all dyed, all set. And now I am finding it difficult to replicate my sample, for the part with the tiny nassen gasuri, not surprising because that is what happens when you use natural dyes. I changed some colours too, replaced cochineal with Indian madder. I can´t wait to see it finished. The weather is just too hot and humid and I am so incredibly tired. But happy. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Kasuri sampling, parties & fish feeding

It is only now, that we have to create our projects from scratch, that we realize how much we were spoon fed in our last projects. Actually, we couldn´t have got through the amount of work we did otherwise. Two weeks have passed and today I finally managed to get my samples off the loom. 

The design seems simple enough, but there are a lot of calculations to do. And I decided to go with natural dyes which slows everything down even further because of all the preparation of the yarn, pre-mordanting, brewing of plant materials etc. But it is fun hanging out in the dyeing room and trying to communicate with Hori-sensei who is responsible for this department. Yesterday I caught him practicing his golf swing. Apparently you can watch but you must not interrupt and no one thinks this is strange. The not so fun part is the colours not coming out anything like the samples. The only one that really worked was logwood, so I might have to rethink my plant material or my approach. For two of my colours I was actually using cochineal and after those colours not really turning out either I have decided to save money and spare the dead insects.

Before dyeing even became a concern, I spent most of one week binding Kasuri. Then the loom had to be set up as per usual. I am so tired that I can´t imagine having to do all of this again but on a larger scale and getting that all done in just another two weeks. But I am happy with the results, especially with the tiny nassen gasuri.

And to slow things down, all of a sudden we are having parties and getting dressed up in kimonos. Fun!

The first party this week was the Tanabata. In this party we honor the weaving princess, who only on this day the 7th of the 7th month can meet her lover, but only if it does not rain, which it didn´t. It is a sad story. But we get to eat sweets and play games and I won a brass reed sleying hook used to sley very fines yarns like those used for weaving kimonos. Next week we will get to visit one of the floats that will parade in the Gion Festival, also happening this month. So many things to do and so little time.

Last weekend I finally made it to the Golden Pavilion and it was so boring I won´t even bother to show it. On the way back and after much walking I came across a small shrine between Nijo Station and Kyoto City Hall. There was a vending machine, and for 100 yen you got a wafer biscuit filled with pellets to feed the koi fish and turtles and the leftover wafer was for the ducks. Best, most sensible packaging I have found so far in Japan and the best random 100 yen spent.