Saturday, November 8, 2008

An unexpected adventure

This afternoon my friend Mici, who has helped so much with the show, took me to an old town, Sasayama. This is a place almost completely off the American tourist path. It has a long main street with Edo period shops. Some have been remodeled to look modern from the street but they are the typical deep narrow buildings with a street-side shop, often open air, that characterize buildings from before the opening of Japan in 1867.

Two of these shops, evidently owned by the same family, sell antique textiles and Mici says they are much less expensive than what I will find in Kyoto. Once the woman who owns the shop realized what I did and how much I knew about these fabrics she invited us up a set of incredibly steep narrow stairs to view the treasured kimonos there. She pulled out kimono after kimono to show us. We were breathless. Mici says she is "a very particular lady", but she was very happy to talk to people, especially an American who really appreciated what she had.

This is a very expensive shibori kimono depicting the Grand Canyon.

In the second shop, which sold kimono pieces, I discovered a really spectacular piece of jishiro cotton. This is a white background katazome fabric dyed with indigo. It requires incredible skill applying resist paste using two stencils to leave delicate lines and dots free to take the dye. Nobody is doing this now and the piece was Edo era. It had been dyed with the same pattern on both sides to use for a summer kimono. Of course it was incredibly expensive, but by this time we had built up enough goodwill to persuade her to sell me a small piece from the end. Wow!

Mici says happily, next time you come we will go there and spend more time (yipes, and money).


Fran├žoise said...

How far is it from Kyoto?

Gerrie said...

Karen!!!! What a treat. I am so jealous. That Grand Canyon piece is incredible.