UNFINISHED BUSINESS in NIHON


Returning to Japan

to see and do things I didn't last year

For the time being the blog will be quite detailed and not only focus on technical dye matters, but also give a glimpse how and why I get to places, what happens there and really how involved it is to gather knowledge. Currently I am in the last stages of preparations for a return trip to Japan to visit the Hiroyuki Shindo Little indigo Museum, go back to Arimatsu and try to connect to Harisho studio that specialises in Sekka, go to the Nippori Fabric market in Tokyo, have a look at some ceramics and hopefully drop into Bryan Whitehead in Fujino. He is an American living in Japan, growing Indigo and silkworms for production. He also runs workshops.I also want to buy some fabric to turn into accessories and I know just the person to buy it from. Nagashima - san, a Sekka dyer (above).

Sekka is Japanese for 'Snowflake" and is a great passion of mine. It is a kind of Itajime clamp dyeing and requires a lot of skill to get the intricate patterns.How I met Nagashima and how I managed to be able to see her again, is a long story. If you are interested, read on. When I was at the Arimatsu Festival last year I approached her because her fabric was so beautiful. She had a display and does the most wonderful Sekka dyeing. I took her card and was trying to communicate that I would love to see her in her studio, but nothing came of it due to communication failure.

That's when Sadako, a lovely Japanese lady, one year on, comes to the rescue. I am still engaged in a flurry of correspondence with this remarkable person. She is a powerhouse at 60+ and does ball room dancing! In her spare time she translates for a dye studio her boyfriend is involved in. When I approached this particular studio in Tokyo whether I could visit, Sadako replied in perfect English. We arranged to meet and she picked me up at the railway station to take me to the meticulous workshop, that btw. sells to the Museum of Modern Art in New York!I spent a couple of precious hours there and did some dyeing with dyer Kanako in their organic vats (sigh), an employee, sweet and kind.See photo below.We arranged at the time that I should go back there to learn Katazome (stencil dyeing) for a week in a little apprenticeship, but that didn't happen (yet). You may gather where all this is leading to...Sadako (ball room dancer) has approached and asked Nagashima (Sekka dyer) on my behalf if I could come and visit her in her studio. Nagashima remembered me (!!!) from last year, and was very hesitant at first to see me. In fact she declined, because her studio is in a tiny flat and she doesn't want to show it to anyone.Sadako is not easily deterred and somehow managed to convince her to let me watch her at work.

And- the third lady from the Tokyo workshop, Kanako, who has left the aforementioned studio in the meantime to start her own, will come with us on our tour. So there will be 3 dyers, (2 Japanese, 1 Australian-German) 1 formidable woman orchestrating it all, who are going to visit Nagashima's Sekka studio, all brought together by the love of textiles and dyeing. I think this is wonderful and that's why I love travelling. The web we weave... time to get packing.

Artisanal textiles and dye workshops   Sydney​

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