I contemplate myself a Japanophile. In 2018 I visited Japan for the primary time after years of anticipation. I had lastly discovered the proper journey companion in my boyfriend – who’s simply as positively obsessive about Japan as I’m – since I’m not one to journey solo, until it’s for work functions. Within the first week we arrived we already agreed that after this journey we might come again to Japan as quickly as we might. And this 12 months we made it again, in March, proper in the course of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. We hesitated for a very long time if we must always journey in any respect, however the state of affairs in Japan appeared pretty gentle and beneath management, besides for large occasions and most museums every thing was nonetheless in operation. On the similar time the state of affairs in Europe was getting worse, so we felt it is perhaps even higher to flee to Japan than to remain in The Netherlands, the place we’d go beneath lockdown, which had simply occurred in Italy.

So on 12 March we arrived in Japan protected and sound, and we couldn’t wait to begin exploring the nation once more, this time for 4 weeks straight. After I’m overseas I all the time attempt to mix enterprise with pleasure, I like to go to museums, exhibitions, craftsmen, factories and inventive studios. This time I reached out to the Dutch Embassy in Tokyo, to see if I might join with likeminded Japanese and alternate data of textiles and biodesign. I met up with Bas Valcks and Carolien van Tilburg (who was now working in Tokyo and had beforehand organized a networking dinner in Paris, once I was there to participate in a panel dialogue about
dwelling supplies at Avantex). Bas had invited Kaori Ieyasu, from Edelkoort’s Pattern Union to hitch our little meetup. We talked about how travelling throughout the corona pandemic is perhaps a good time to find the nation, as a result of there have been far much less vacationers. Little did we all know {that a} week later the EU borders closed and the Dutch authorities urged us to return dwelling, reducing our journey quick to only one week as a substitute of 4 weeks.

woven silk scarves with a sample impressed by historical Japanse Jomon pottery at Gen Maeda

Fortunately we nonetheless had the perfect time throughout that week. We stayed in Tokyo whereas visiting Kamakura, Enoshima island, the ramen museum in Shin-Yokohama and we travelled to Yamanashi prefecture, dwelling to Mount Fuji and an essential textile area with a over 400 12 months outdated textile heritage. On the final day of our journey we met with Tetsuya Igarashi, a Senior Researcher from the Yamanashi Industrial Expertise Heart. Kaori-san had launched us and Tetsuya was so form to indicate us round a number of textile factories and designers.


At 10:00 AM we met on the Yamanashi Industrial Expertise Heart the place Tetsuya-san took us to the textile archives. The area is very recognized for its woven “kaiki” materials, which interprets into “silk from Yamanashi”, a luxurious lining material for kimono and haori (formal coats). Within the Edo Interval, sporting expressive color was prohibited by regulation. Nonetheless folks would categorical their model and standing via color and decorations hidden inside their clothes. Daring colors and chic materials had been used as lining as a substitute. Tetsuya confirmed us many vintage silks filled with symbolism, which as a part of his work he tries to analyse. Aside from the colors, the motifs present for which season the material was designed. For instance plum blossom and petals are used for winter collections and sakura for spring.

kaiki silk material from the Yamanashi textile archive

textile archives at Yamanashi Industrial Expertise Heart


The decorations within the material are made via the method of ”e-kaiki” (warp-printing), the place the warp threads put in on the loom are printed after which woven, at first hand painted by brush and later by utilizing stencils. The material is known for being tremendous mild and tender as a result of the silk threads will not be twisted to extend density. Weaving these delicate and skinny threads right into a dense material requires unbelievable ability.

kaiki silk material from the Yamanashi textile archive

visible clarification of e-kaiki at Yamanashi Industrial Expertise Heart

The Yamanashi Industrial Expertise Heart is a public analysis institute that helps the design of native textile manufacturing and promotes and preserves the regional heritage. The constructing is supplied with a prototyping lab with a number of jacquard looms, the place new designs and strategies are developed and perfected, as an illustration creating photorealistic weaving strategies and clean color gradients.

Tetsuya Igarashi and I on the Yamanashi Industrial Expertise Heart

weave research in clean color gradients on the Yamanashi Industrial Expertise Heart


Subsequent we visited Funakubo Orimono a producer of umbrellas and neckties. Masaru Funakubo is the self taught manufacturing unit proprietor. In fashionable society the demand for conventional put on like kimono and haori declined. The place it as soon as had been a thriving textile trade with over 6.000 factories within the late 60’s, in the present day solely about 300 small (household owned) factories stay, most belonging to the regional weavers’ union. The diminishing demand for these garments additionally led to a lesser demand for lining material. With a purpose to protect this material, strategies and its heritage Masaru-san was decided to search out new purposes for the kaiki materials. He began making umbrellas, sunbrellas and neckties from the luminous silks utilizing the “hogushi-ori” (untangling weaving) method.

Me, serving to Masaru Funakubo to untangle the kari-ori, earlier than weaving
partly completed hogushi material on the loom

The undyed warp yarn is first woven with a short lived weft to carry the warps loosely in place. This “kari-ori” (prep-weave) is then positioned on a display printing desk after which printed with the design. After printing the warp is reinstalled on the loom and the momentary weft is eliminated one after the other (untangled). Then the fabric is woven. The patterns are characterised by a blurred or brushed look (kasuri or ikat).

jacquard weaving loom with punch playing cards at Funakubo Orimono

silk necktie material element

checking the density and yarn depend of the material


We proceed to Watanabe Textile the place designer, architect and photographer Tatsuyasu Watanabe weaves probably the most lovely modern materials. He hacks the loom and its conventional weaving strategies to develop new woven textures by utilizing pure and eco-friendly yarns like cupro and paper yarn. Together with his materials he designs merchandise like throw blankets, cushions, baggage and scarves. Tatsuyasu-san is an effective instance of taking inspiration from conventional crafts and elevating them to a contemporary aesthetic that does justice to its historical past.

the studio of Watanabe Textile

woven textiles by Watanabe Textile

Tatsuyasu Watanabe and I within the Watanabe weaving manufacturing unit


Subsequent we go to Gen Maeda, a material provider of pure and earth-friendly materials, based in 1921. President Ichiro Maeda tells us that subsequent to preserving the custom of kaiki silk they develop materials for the long run. Their assortment of materials consist of lovely high-quality textured materials in natural cotton, silk, ramie, linen, wool and cupro. A lot of their materials are undyed and a number of the colored materials are dyed utilizing pure pigments akin to cherry, mugwort and primrose from the foot of Mt. Fuji and its pure spring water. These plant dyes by no means produce exactly the identical color twice, because of altering seasons, temperature, and so forth. In order that they leads to one in every of a sort materials.

myself, Ichiro Maeda and Tetsuya Igarashi at Gen Maeda

material at Gen Maeda, developed along with the Yamanashi Industrial Expertise Heart

luminous silk with a sample impressed by historical Japanese Jomon pottery at Gen Maeda

Subsequent-door we pay a go to to Fujichigira, the place president Makoto Katoh receives us. Fujichigira is a material provider and producer that regionally cultivates unused farmland with “akane” (madder), “ai” (indigo) and “shikon” (gromwell), producing pink, pink, blue and purple colors. They’ve additionally developed a woolen yarn referred to as “VANAWARM” along with the Yamanashi Industrial Expertise Heart that absorbs and incorporates the heat of daylight on sunny days in winter, to maintain you further heat and comfortable.

native dye crops and naturally dyed silk at Fujichigira

We discuss sustainability, developments within the Japanese and European textile market and each firm asks me if I’ve concepts how they will enhance and revive the trade. This to me is a usually Japanese customized. The Japanese take delight in what they do and their eye for element is unparalleled. They take years and generations to grasp a craft and constantly attempt to enhance, nearly to a fault.

weaving exhibition set up at Fujihimuro Gallery

Lastly we went to Fujihimuro Gallery, which is situated in a former “himuro” (ice storage home). It’s a great gallery house designed by Taku Sakaushi Architects / O.F.D.A. that homes a present exhibition and set up about weaving. Among the partitions on the within of the gallery, made from fiber strengthened plastic strongly remind me of the mycelium MycoTEX by Neffa. Subsequent to the gallery there are a few designer retailers and ateliers by the accompanying artist-in-residence programme. It’s a very nice place to go to!

Fujihimuro Gallery, picture: Masashige Akeda ©

All in all I actually hope to return to Japan to complete the remainder of my journey as quickly as we are able to journey once more and to fulfill with all the opposite individuals who had been so form to plan to take me on journeys and to exhibitions round Kyoto.


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