Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Amy Katoh's "Remarkable Hands of Japan"

Yesterday I ventured to a new-to-me neighborhood here in Tokyo to see an exhibit of textiles from Old Japan, collected over decades by Amy Katoh, owner of Blue and White.  To find the Kakinuma Shoten Warehouse, I followed Amy's directions, walking from the train station over a bridge and along the Onagi River.  It was an overcast day, but still lovely to walk under the canopy of cherry blossoms!

I saw Amy's dog and knew I had found the warehouse.

This is a ceremonial "Maiwai" garment from Chiba - made to celebrate a good harvest.   
The turnip symbolizes abundance.

Amy describes how fisherman in old Japan would use sashiko stitching to reinforce and add strength and warmth to layered garments. 

How about this charming child's garment, in the "100 points" tradition - where neighbors would donate bits of cloth to be stitched into a garment for a new baby - for protection and good luck. 

More interesting Boro. 

Whimsical detail, and notice the sashiko stitching . 

On display were heaps of "Chiku Chiku Zokin" - traditional dust cloths.  This is sashiko at its most practical. 
I believe these items were made by Akiko Ike.  They are also available for purchase at Blue and White.  Utterly charming!

I brought one to Denver for Grandma Mary Lou but I doubt she'll dare use it for cleaning:). 

A stroll back along the river and to the train station... wrapping up a little mini-adventure and a nice way to keep active in the mid afternoon - trying to get over jet lag!  

Leaving the warehouse and reversing my path along the river, I felt like I was leaving Old Japan refreshed and renewed, heading back into current day. 

And.... for much better photos of Amy's exhibit, please check out this post by Stephen Szczepanek of Sri Threads.  I'm definitely bookmarking his blog - wow!