CRAZY SASHIKO

cs1

To be crazy is far easier for some. Those whose hands are too experienced and too nimble are hard put to feel free and go wild and let themselves go. For many entrants to our recent Crazy Sashiko Contest that was the case. In all modesty, some admitted that their sewing skills were too advanced to try to do something “crazy”. It had to be perfect or they didn’t want to try.

Some reckless souls deigned to try their hand.

cs2

Akiko Ike of Niigata Ginka Gallery in Niigata City, is a highly experienced seamstress. Her fingers very agile, but she prefers the rough and random offshoot of sashiko that she calls Chiku-Chiku, the onomatopoeic word for the sound of a needle passing through cloth. By using pieces of old cloth to sew her Chiku Chiku, she applies squares or circles of old cloth to cover up holes while embellishing the decoration. She comes to Blue & White 2 or 3 times a year and gives classes on this meditative and therapeutic stitchery that brings rescued cloth back to life again.  Her Chiku Chiku koinobori carp banner was the heads on number one choice of all the visitors to Blue & White who voted for three top entries.

Her thick red stitches bring the worn banner back to life and give it volume and thickness and splash. The relentless stitches that Ike san sews are a monument to her dedication to Chiku Chiku, a magic revitalizer to both cloth and seamstress. She has had exhibits all over Japan, and last year in Nimes, France.

Of course Akiko Ike was the unanimous winner of the contest was Akiko Ike with her Chiku Chiku Koinobori sewn with straight stitches of thick red thread on an old Boys’ Day Banner.

cs3

Hayasawa Sayoko, the styley and irrepressible manager of Blue & White is handy with a needle and spends a goodly amount of her time in the shop sewing special bags for Otafuku masks and chop stick covers for the shop and also makes her own skirts out of old shibori and kimono and adapts clothes that make her a stunning fashion plate as she welcomes all who visit Blue & White. Her first entry into a Zokin (dust rag) contest that we held perhaps 8 or 9 years ago, was a never-to-be-forgotten sashiko portrait of her and her dog Tuan and what they think about.

cs4

This year she was more restrained, and though beautiful rather than crazy, she won second prize with her BLUE EARTH. All who visited Blue & White were asked to judge their number 1, 2 and 3 favorites.

cs5

Other entries were also notable and worth showing here. Hopefully they will encourage others to try their hand at the Crazy Sashiko contest Blue & White will hold the contest at the end of each summer.

Kumi Sasaki is both highly skilled with her hands, and her head is filled with flights of imagination that dexterity sometimes brings. She deservedly won third prize in the completion. Her entry is a needlework sculpture of the form of her own hand cut out of cloth and stitched with random and skillful stitch work forms and colors. A joy to behold, it makes you laugh and gaze in wonder. And it is stuffed with sweet smelling mint leaves and serves as a potpourri.

cs6

Reiko Okunushi, whose magic fingers have been creating superb Otafuku quilts, quilted bags, toys and baby blankets for Blue & White for over 30 years, also has a touch of crazy in her. Or, if not crazy, playful and whimsical are qualities that define all her work. Joy and a love of sewing shine out from every unique piece she creates. Her work is distinctive and filled with a perfect combination of deftness of hand and fullness of heart.

cs8

 

cs7

Not only cat lovers were taken with these naïf cat portraits that take sashiko beyond the pure graphic and into pictorial realm.

cs9Stitchery madness!

The helter skelter stitchery on this apron is the work of NoNo Ichi san who hides her considerable sewing ability behind these rough rides of thread on cloth, creating marvels that harken back to the antique indigo BORO that are so popular today.

cs10

Chiku Chiku Junior by Tomoko Ike, Akiko san’s talented and imaginative daughter and manager of their iconic gallery Niigata Ginka in Niigata.

cs11Sashiko Wearables.

These pants will surely stand out in any fashion parade while being durable enough to wash floors in when you get home.

sc12

Colorful T shirt by Akiko Morimoto shows just some of her energy and spontaneity. She even left the needle and thread in the T shirt for further embellishment.

sc13

Uzumaki bag by our own NoNo Ichi San who makes miraculous bags, each one different, each one jaw-dropping. Wild and wonderful seem to come naturally to her.

sc14

Lowly and loveable Mermaid! by Hana, 6 year old grand daughter of our dedicated and forever young Megumi Kajikawa.

sc15Sashiko Faces

Wandering sashiko hat by Asako Sangai, our own irreplaceable artist and Blue & White graphics designer of original cards, calendars, catalogues and announcements.

sc16The Last Stitch Sueko

Meandering sashiko, my own unsteady sashiko on left over pieces of wool muslin collected by Sueko Nakazawa, my husband’s beloved Aunt who taught me about the marvels of Japan and the importance of preserving its textiles and culture. She and her elder sister Toshiko, my husband’s irresistible Mother, taught me Mottainai and the spirit of Japan. They live on in their stitches and in their carefully collected textiles.

 

Posted in Journal | 5 Comments

THE LANGUAGE OF SUMMER

Sum1++

 

Fluffy clouds of August puff out their chests in a brilliant blue summer sky.
Constantly changing sculptures of form and volume, they are a sky show that mustn’t be missed.

 

 

Cloud w txt overlay3 400

Sum3 Not Really By Chance   A GINZA CELEBRATION OF YUKATA

We planned an early lunch yesterday at Shabusen at Ginza’s major 4 chome intersection in order to get our visiting son to his afternoon flight on time. By luck we found a stage show being set up as we saw a nostalgic Japan returning to its origins with food carts and men walking in straw hats and yukata, tents with beer and soft drinks were being set up where you could drink up and cool down, or simply sit in the shade and enjoy the scene.

 Sum4

 

The Art of Ice

In times before air conditioning and electric fans, ice was a savior and still is in Ginza’s entertainment area where ice trucks come with their saws and saw big chunks of ice for their customer bars or the ice artistes who form huge objets of ice – fish, rabits, dragons and even encase flowers within the giant transparent blocks of cold.

 

Sum5 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sum6++

 

 

 

 

Organizers of the big
Ginza yukata celebration event.

 

 

 

 

Sum7

 

IKI is Edo chic – the dashing style of people of the Edo period who flaunted their flair in unexpected clothing combinations and accents and splashes of surprise. Subtle textures and materials – this one a gossamer hemp fiber for his yukata instead of the usual cotton – are only seen by a few who appreciate the intricacies and complexities of Japanese textiles and craftsmanship.
This man seemed pleased when I noticed.

 

Sum8

 

 

 

 

IKI Guide Lines
Obi slung low
No apparent restrictions on length.

Air of total insouciance
See the see through!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sum9 

A Chance to BE Daring

Wearing Yukata is an opportunity to express your other self – a bright flamboyant and why not self that more conservative western clothes do not encourage. Summer is the time to let go and bloom. Yukata may just be a vehicle for the inner self to stand out and say something.
It is certainly a blue and white light for stepping out and enjoying life!

 

 

Sum17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sum13 

 

Natural Yukata

Starting young, feeling proud, even little boys love to dress up and join the fun of a summer celebration.
Something special for all ages.
Japanese seem to step into their own character when they wear Yukata.

 

 

 

 

 

Sum10

 

 A Yukata Frame of Mind

There is something bright and breezey about Yukata and their patterns and spontaneous color combinations. These days colors are flamboyant and all over the spectrum. Young girls seem to prefer the most colorful and gaudy patterns. Needless to say, we search out the classic blue and white combinations and this Mother and son confirm its staying power. The blue is a coolant and together with white they are crisp and fresh even on the hottest of days.
The ancients knew what they were doing when they chose blue and white as the natural order of things. It is natural. It is grounded and its simple understated dignity is supremely suited to the quiet Japanese state of mind. Blue and white also gives patterns a chance to make their own statement without letting colors take over the show and disturb the honesty and clarity of the design.

Sum12 

 

Yukata Variations

Just off Ginza a family is gearing up and taking turns taking photos of eachother. Each one has his own style. Yukata chic in all its various forms. They were all having a grand time getting ready to make their full family debut on the Ginza stage just coming together on Ginza 4 chome, one block away.

 

 

Sum14

 

Always Look Back!

With Yukata, and Kimono as well of course, it is always best to have a look behind. Not only are there slim and narrow shoulders, but the bottoms are also good! and the way the obis are fastened there is always worth studying.
There are innumerable ways of tying an obi and often the knots and bows and twists that you find are surprising and fun and original.

You find IKI where you are least expecting it.

 

Sum15 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sum16+

 

 

 

 

 

Ginza is more Ginza when it is wearing Yukata.
Japan is more Japan when it wears Kimono.
All are more beautiful when they are Blue and White.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Journal | 11 Comments

CRAZY SASHIKO CONTEST!!

crazy sashiko

Image | Posted on by | 4 Comments

FLEA MARKET STYLE 蚤の市ファッション

Sunshine at last broke through constant days of rainy season rain today, and bright blue skies blessed the OEdo Antique Market on the first Sunday of July, bringing out palpable enthusiasm and high wire fun.

The crowd was lively and spiffy today after weeks and weeks of cancellations and rain coats and umbrella Sundays. Tokyo International Forum played host to more than 200 plus dealers and probably 10 or 20 times more onlookers: strollers, browsers, enthusiasts.

雨ばかり…な梅雨時期のつかの間の晴れ間、7月初旬の週末に開催された大江戸骨董市へ、大興奮しながら行きました!

数週間にも渡るキャンセル続きだった東京国際フォーラムの骨董市に、200店以上の業者とその数倍もの、バイヤーやお客さん、コレクターで賑わっていました。

Flea1

Today it was the customers and dealers who caught my eye today even more than the treasures spread out for them to buy. People had style. They had panache, and in many cases they were wearing finds from previous flea market forays. Most of all, they had a sense of dressing with flair.

宝の山から何を買おうか迷っている間にもこの日は売り手や買い手に目がいってしまう日でした。彼らには独自のスタイルがあり、粋な服装、過去の蚤の市で入手した戦利品を着ていました。

Standing up and being noticed may have been one of the reasons they came. I snapped away on my iphone without even being polite enough to ask permission – the poses were too fleeting, the moment was more a second and needed to be seized. But in every case, they smiled in response to my iphone intrusion, although sometimes I was so surreptitious that they didn’t even notice.

そこに立っているだけでも存在感があるから人が寄ってくるのでしょう。許可を得る事無く遠くからこっそり写真を取ったのですがーーー動作は一瞬だし、気づいてもらう必要はあったかも。。。けれども携帯で写真を撮らせてもらった時には、皆さん微笑んで下さいました。その後もまた、誰にも気付かれずにこっそりドキドキしながら写真を撮りましたが。。。

Flea2

Sometimes it is the dealers who dazzle. This man deals in Asian Textiles and is a walking billboard for his closet. But when he wondered why I was taking photos, claiming he was just the same as everyone else, I disagreed and complimented his comfortable sense of style, his sense of self. He seemed genuinely surprised.

Most of the photos need no comments. They speak for themselves.

お客さんだけでなく、売り手がキラキラ輝いていることもあります。

この男性はアジアンチックな衣装に身を包み、彼のお店の歩く看板になっています。
写真を撮り続ける私に不振感を抱いた彼は、自分の服装なんて他の皆と同じじゃないか!と文句を言ってきましたが私は全くそうは思いませんでした。彼の心地よいスタイルのセンスを褒めちぎると、心底驚いていました。それに皆、写真への感想はなくただただ思った事を話します。

Surely I am prejudiced but I think Japanese flea markets excel for their exquisite – mostly – collections of beautifully handmade antiques, the history they explain, the extraordinary rendering of natural materials, and the artistic way in which they have been collected by each dealer and artfully set out for people to muse upon, be enticed by, inspired by.

これは私の偏見なのですが、日本の蚤の市は彼らのこだわり方がとても素晴らしいと感じます。素敵な手作りの骨董品、彼らが話す物の歴史や背景、天然素材の面白い魅せ方や、ディーラーから集めた商品を魅力的に並べ、それに引きつけられ悩み込む人々をさらに触発するかのような芸術的に陳列させる事へのこだわり方です。

They are a social diary of Japan’s past. How people lived. What they lived with and worked with. The objects of living and working and playing are all there. There are objects of faith, what people believed in. And what people are attracted by, including huge selections of antiques and art from other countries. The market is a fascinating stew of what catches the eye and the imagination.

過去の人がどのように暮らし、何と暮らし働いたか。人々が暮らし、仕事をし、遊んだかつての物達が蚤の市にはあります。暮らしの中で信じた物、信頼したもの。そして、数えきれないほど多くの選別された骨董品と海外からの骨董品に美術品の何に人々は惹き付けられていたか。そんな過去の日本を伝えてくれる彼らは、歴史的資料のような存在です。

Flea3

It’s about learning from the tastes and fixations of others.

質感と色留めを学んでいるところです。

Flea4

 

Flea5

Often it is the dealers who enchant me. This man, recognizable by his signature jaunty hand knit skull cap worn in all seasons, drives 12 hours down from Yamagata twice a month, wondered where Basho was, my black dog who always joins my flea market adventures. Too hot, I told him. He brings tools and artifacts from the heart of Japan’s farmlands, its mountains, its deepest country traditions.

よく、売り手に私はうっとりさせられます。この男性は山形県から遥々12時間も掛けて月に2度来ています。彼が年中被っている帽子がトレードマークで、この日はいつも私と一緒に蚤の市に遊びに行っている愛犬の芭蕉が居ない事を気にかけてくれたので、暑すぎるのよ!と彼に伝えておきました。彼は、日本古来の田舎に由来し使われる農耕具などを取り扱っています。

Flea6

 

Flea7

The banter, the exchanges, the reassuring sense of connecting and sharing stories and knowledge and experience is a draw for dealers and customers alike.

偵察に来ているお客さんたち。経験や知識を語らいセンスの一致を確かめ合う様は売り手や買い手を惹き付けます。

Flea8

 

Flea9

 

Flea10

 

Flea11

HATS for all heads.

Flea12

 

Flea13

 

Flea14

 

Flea15

 

Flea16

 

Flea17

BLUE   青

Flea18

Mosquito netting fashion!   蚊帳のお洋服!

Flea19

KNOTTED IN BACK   帯締め

Flea20

Style from behind.   後ろ姿。

Flea21

Up front style.   そのまんまのスタイル。

Flea22

The Tokyo OEdo Antique market scene – everyone is welcome. Old ways kindle new styles and everyone can step outside themselves and have a great time. Held at Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho, 1st and 3rd Sundays.

以上、東京大江戸骨董市の風景でした。古いものや様式は新しいものに輝きを持たせます。ちょっと一歩を踏み出せばとても素敵な時間が過ごせる事でしょう。東京国際フォーラムにて、第一第三土曜に開催されています。

 

 

Posted in Journal | 14 Comments

SEEING CIRCLES

Oki circ

 

My circular vision started in Kyoto recently at the magnificent house and pottery of Kawai Kanjiro. In his garden is this huge round stone, a house warming present to the potter when he built the house, a perfect expression of Japanese aesthetics in daily life.

私の、まるに対するビジョンは、京都にある陶芸家河井寛次郎氏の壮大な邸宅に訪れた際に広がり始めました。そこの庭にある巨大な円形の石は新築祝いに送られたもので、日本の美学を完璧に表現しています。

Oki1

 

Oki circ or sm

 

Japan is made up of all manner of shapes, textures and colors, of course, but last week in Okinawa, all I could see was circles.

日本という国は、形や色はもちろん全ての作法も形から作られています。O(お)きなわの滞在では、私が見たもの全てがまるでした。

Everywhere I looked I found circles, from the colorful handmade plates, all different, all typically Okinawan at the always delicious izakaya/pub Yomitan Monogatari where we headed, just after arriving, to the fluorescent purple beniimo dumplings for dessert the next day at Yuimaru Cafeteria attached to the Yomitan Pottery Coop. (pardon the unfocussed photo. This cameraman was just too excited by the incredibly good purple dumplings).

どこでも私はまるを見つけました。沖縄到着後に向かった読谷物語という沖縄料理居酒屋では色とりどりの手作りのお皿、翌日訪れた読谷陶芸小屋の脇にある、ゆいまるカフェではとても明るい綺麗な紫色をした紅芋のまるいお饅頭をデザートに頂きました。(信じられない美しさの紫色のお饅頭を前に、あまりに興奮しすぎてピントが合っていない写真をお許しください...)

Oki2

 

Oki3Laughter for breakfast.  笑う朝食。

Breakfast each morning featured round Genki muffins bursting with nuts and raisins and grated carrots and bran lovingly prepared by our ever Genki hostess, her cheese soufflés if you will, and we did! were heavenly circles of well being.

毎朝の朝食は元気顔のプレートでした。私たちの元気なホステスによって愛情を込めて用意されたマフィンは、ナッツやレーズン、擂り下ろした人参ふすまを入れ焼いてあり、彼女の作るチーズスフレを私たちも作ったら
それはそれは綺麗なまるが出来上がったのです!

Oki4

 

Oki5And the free will creations of TONARIYA Bakery in Yomitan who specialize in baking spheres of all flavors and colors. Their offerings changed every day and made it difficult to decide which round masterpieces to take home..

TONARIYA is open daily except Monday from 10 until they run out which is always early in the afternoon.

読谷村にあるぱん工房おとなりやでは、自由な発想で球体を焼き上げるプロが生み出す日替わりの球体を目の前に、どのまるい傑作品と一緒に帰るかいつも悩みました。
ぱん工房おとなりやhttp://asian1026.blog51.fc2.com/ 毎週月曜日を覗く 朝10時から売り切れまで営業しています。(売り切れは午後早くだそうです)

Oki6Even more delicious to eat!  まだまだ美味しい食べ物が!

Oki7HITSUKI (Sun / Moon – great name for circles!) Glassworks in Yomitan makes incandescent circles. Their light fixtures breathe warmth into a room. Their bud vases help flowers stand up and be noticed.

読谷村、日月(まるへの素晴らしい呼び名です!)のガラスのランプシェードは、光輝くまるを作り出します。
その光は暖かさを部屋の中にもたらします。
つぼみの花瓶は花に存在感を与えます。 

Oki8

 

Oki9

Circles at the new age antique shop INDIGO sneak up on you. They are circles without bragging about it. I have been coveting this rusted lampshade as long as I have been going there, but they treasure it as a symbol of their wabi sabi taste for living with the beauty of cast away objects of everyday life.

斬新な骨董品屋Indigohttp://indigo-f.com/にある まる が忍びよってきます。 それらはまるで、まる である事を主張していない。

Their brochure proclaims a wonderful philosophy: LOVE YOUR LIFE. Their shop proves that they do. As I love their assortment of workaday things that are loved.

この店のショップカードには素晴らしい人生観が記されている。
「自分の人生を愛そう」
彼らに愛され集められたものを私が愛するように、彼ら店がその言葉の意味を証明している。

Oki10INDIGO Antique shop in Yomitan.

Oki11 Somehow the young owners of INDIGO with three little children succeed in combining things in exciting ways. I was dying for this plant, but they wouldn’t part with its partner pot. And the grouping of objets in an old box makes the whole composition shine under a basket sun overhead.

なんとか様々な雑貨を面白く魅せようと、若いご主人とその子供達の努力が実っています。どうしても私はこの植物を欲しかったのですが、植木鉢無くしては購入できませんでした。

Oki12

And the grouping of random objects in an old box makes the whole composition shine under a basket sun overhead.

古い木箱に詰められた雑貨の集合体。太陽が降り注ぐ籠の下で全ての陳列の構成が輝いていました。

Oki13Bulbous rice pot for cooking perfect rice directly on the fire.

まんまるの、炊飯土鍋。

 

Oki14Delicious circles at KOme Matsukura in Urasoe, Okinawa, perfect rice and vegetables sublime from Miyagi Prefecture, in an artistic and original setting.

米や 松倉http://komeyamatsukura.net/ の美味しい、まる。 宮城県の美味しいお米とお野菜のお料理をアーティスティックに盛りつけてあります。

 

Oki15While searching for a new potter we had been told about, we had a surprise encounter with round white dishes drying on a beautiful old blue Suzuki jeep, younger sister to our own old red one. Blue and white always comes in unexpected places.

人づてに聞いた陶芸家を探していた時の事、偶然にも出会った、乾燥中の白くまるいお皿がとっても綺麗な青をした古いジムニーの上にありました。私たちが乗っていた赤いジムニーの妹にしました!
青と白は、いつでも意外なところにひょっこり顔を出します。

Oki16

 

Oki17The combination of blue and white pots in a rain drenched garden of Yamada Shinman is unsurpassably beautiful and only confirms my theory that blue and white in use is far more beautiful than simply lined up and “looking pretty” on display.

雨が降り注ぐ山田真萬氏の庭に置かれた氏による青と白の組み合わせの陶器は、私の理論である、ただ単純に並べられた可愛らしいディスプレイよりも青と白が用いられる様は遥かに、最高に美しいと確信します。

The same holds true for circles. They are far more beautiful at work. Aren’t we all?!

まる にも同じ事が当てはまります。 作品になるとさらに美しくありません?!

Oki18 

Oki19

 Yamada san’s brushwork is free and bold and powerful. He is a master of blue and white.

自由で大胆でとても力強い山田氏の筆遣い。彼は青と白の巨匠です。

Oki20Shinman Yamada draws inspiration from his own wild garden around him when making pots and painting his natural designs in blue and white.

山田氏は青と白の絵付けをする際、彼の自然溢れる庭からのインスピレーションを感じ、描きます。

 

Oki21 The ultimate sphere: a luminous sunrise during Okinawa’s rainy season.

最高の球体:沖縄の雨期の光り輝く夜明け

 

Oki22Back at Blue & White, Okinawan circles and works by other potters draw the attention of passersby. Here the huge splotchy platter of Hiroshi Matsuda is fresh and spontaneous.

Blue and White の店先におかれた、沖縄のまると作品たち。道行く人の目を引きます。
大きな斑点がある、まつだひろし氏による巨大な丸皿は、新鮮でのびのびとした風合いです。

Oki23And the perfect circle of thick random sashiko stitches on indigcloth by Kazuko Yoshiura is the pride of Blue & White.

Blue and White にある、吉浦和子氏によって完璧な まる の刺し子が施された藍染め布。

Oki24

Even mundane rubber bands sing the song of blue and white circles.

ただの輪ゴムでさえ、青と白のまるの歌を唄っているようです。

 

Oki25

Why my fixation on circles? I wondered and discovered that the significance of ENSO Zen Circle is Absolute Enlightenment. The wholeness of spirit. The way you paint the Enso is the way your life is now. Mine is clearly wobbly.

なぜこんなにも まる に固執してしまうのでしょう?! 不思議に思いながら気がついたのは, 円相(禅における書画)が持つ意味は究極の悟りだと。精神の完全性です。
円相を描いたとき、そこに現れる まる は今現在のあなたの人生なのです。

私のそれは、あきらかに不安定なものでした。。。

 

Oki circ

Posted in Journal | 8 Comments

AND SOMETHING RED . . . 赤いもの...

Not all Japan is Blue & White as I may often imply.
 A recent trip to Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures, conclusively proved it also comes in a soul-singeing spectrum of red.
私が常々言っている青と白が日本の全ての色ではありません。 先日訪れた京都と滋賀の旅は、思い返せば心躍る赤色に溢れかえっていました。

red1Scroll of Daruma overlooking partakers of Shojin Ryori, vegetarian food, at Tenryuj Temple in Kyoto.
京都の天竜寺で精進料理を頂いた際、達磨の掛け軸が私たちを見下ろしていました。

red2Bib on archaic carved wooden saint a Chomei ji Temple in Ohmi Hachiman at the top of 808 ancient steep stone steps.
808段の石段を登った頂上にある、近江八幡は長命寺の木彫りの古い地蔵につけられた前掛け。

 

Kei Kawasaki staged an unbelievably stunning exhibit of Only Red – Benibana dyeing at her Gallery Kei in Teramachi, Kyoto, on May 17 – 21 last month.
川崎啓氏のギャラリー、ギャラリー啓http://gallerykei.jp/map.html にて5月17日−21日まで開催されていた展示会は、全ての作品が紅花染めの赤色で埋め尽くされた、素晴らしく魅力的な展示会でした。

red3Sometimes dancing. Benibana/safflower boy’s kimono, hemp.
時に舞い(紅花染めの男の子の着物(麻))。

red4Sometimes translucent. Safflower hemp kimono for a girl.
時に光が透き通り(紅花染めの女の子の着物(麻)) 。

red5Sometimes with a shibori design of plums.
梅の絞りがデザインされていたり。 

red6Sometimes in rolls with other shades of red.
様々な赤色の巻物 。

red7Sometimes quietly resplendent on its own.
ただ静かに煌びやかさを放ったり。

red8

red9

red10

red12Safflowers, the source of all that red in the preceding kimonos at a memorable exhibit of Benibana textiles at Gallery Kei, from 17 – 21 May, in Kyoto. The collection was doubly astonishing because Gallery Kei usually concentrates on indigo country textiles, bast fibers and an irresistible, not to mention incomparable expression of wabi wabi Japan.
その展示会において、全ての着物を赤に染めた原料である紅花です。 普段ギャラリー啓では藍染めの織物、強靭で抵抗性が強い魅力的な靭皮、日本の侘寂に象徴されるようなコレクションが並んでいます。ですので今回彼らが開催した、真っ赤な展示会には幾度となく驚かされました。

 

red13Shades of red at the main hall of Chomei-ji Temple.
長命寺の赤色の陰。 

red14Persimmon tannin dyed goods in many shades, many shapes, modeled by the maker, and salesman.
柿渋染めは衣類や布、雑貨にと様々な形と表情を持たせます。業者の方にモデルになってもらいました。

red15Bell tower at Chomeiji Temple in Ohmi Hachiman.
近江八幡の長明寺にある鐘です。

red16Intriguing pot by Kawai Kanjiro at his beautifully preserved house in Kyoto.
京都にある河井寛次郎記念館に展示されている、氏によるとても面白い壷。

red17Torii donated by believers at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.
京都の稲荷神社にある、府民より寄付された鳥居。

 

red18

red19Red into forever.
ずっと続く赤。

red20An eternity of red.
永遠の赤。 

There will be a special program on INDIGO/AI, on NHK Bi no Tsubo in Japan on May 30 at 7:30 pm, and on June 3 at 11:05 am.

It will also be broadcast on NHK US on June 2 at 2:05 pm, Tokyo Time.

Blue & White and Amy Katoh’s house in Karuizawa will be included.

こんにちわm(__)m

がいこくへのほうそうは、6/2 14:05 (にほんじかん)です。よろしくおねがいします。

 

Posted in Journal | 3 Comments

MENDING MY WAYS 私のお直し

mend1In our accelerating and disposable world, have we lost sight of the preciousness of things, the importance of keeping them safe and honoring them? Once used, things are quickly thrown away and replaced with a new one. Like tissues, coats, sweaters, watches, computers, televisions – big things even – are not repaired. They are simply thrown out and replaced. (Blue jeans are the ironic exception here. Worn, deliberately “distressed”, purposefully patched, their raggedy fade is integral to their value. New jeans have no cachet). There is danger here that the tendency to reject things once they are used, can wash over into human relations.

Have we forgotten that things were made to be used and honored and used and honored again? If they break or wear out, they can be mended and put back to right. With patience and persistence, almost anything can be mended and made usable again. It is counterintuitive to use them, wear them out/ or break them and then simply throw them away and go and buy something else just like it.

Some things are irreplaceable, like this lid of a jug, the most treasured objet in my whole hoard, made by my favorite potter in Okinawa, Omine Jissei san. A bamboo pole fell on it during an earthquake and broke just the lid, shattering it into a heartbreak of pieces and chips. The pot was miraculously unscathed, Heartbroken, but resolute, I will bring it to my “fixer” at Morita Antiques In Aoyama who, in time, will put it right and give it new character. The mends will be part of its new story.

あっという間に使い捨てをする今の時代、私たちは物を大切に扱い敬い、価値を見出し大事にする事を忘れてしまってはいないでしょうか。ティッシュを始めとした日用品、衣類や時計に、修理すらされていないパソコンにテレビ、これらを使い古してはすぐに新しいものに取り替えていないでしょうか。(ちなみにジーンズは皮肉なもので、意図的にダメージを加えたもの、修繕したりまだらに色を落とされたりしているもの、古いものー古着に価値が見いだされ、新しいものにはそれは見出されない)一度きりの使い捨て、という傾向は私たちの人間関係にも影響をもたらす危険があるかもしれません。

私たちはかつてのように物を大切に使い続けるという事を忘れてしまったのでしょうか。使い古した物を捨て、代わりの新しい物を幾度も買いに行くように、壊れたり使い古したものもきちんと幾度も手直しして行く事が出来るのです。大切な宝物ほど修繕できないものがある事も事実です。

これは私の大好きな沖縄の陶芸家大嶺實清氏の作品であるコーヒーや飲み物を入れてサーブする時のポットの蓋です。地震時に、竹筒が上におち蓋が割れてしまい、割れた破片、かけらをみて心が張り裂けました。不幸中の幸い、ポットの部分は奇跡的に無事でした。ですが大事な物を失った事へのショックが大きかったのも事実です。そこで“私のお直し”先の一つである東京青山にある「古民芸もりた」に行き、このかけらを元通りにしてもらいました。 ちょっと見た目や表情が変わっても、こうしてお直し後の新しく生まれ変わった、宝物との時間が始まることとなります。

mend2 Mending has been a way of life in Japan for centuries. Among the greatest treasures in the Shosoin Collection in Nara, a 8th century treasure house of textiles and other implements of the Imperial Household, open only in November, are the mysterious patched priests’ robes or Kesa that, to my eye, are among the most beautiful textiles on earth. In the spirit of the Buddha who wore rags, tireless stitching transformed old disused and fouled rags into Funzoe, deep veritable brocades of cloth that was too precious to throw away. They became compositions of resplendent beauty and their patching raised them to a level of incomparable meaning and mystery.

年に一度11月にのみ公開され、奈良の正倉院に収蔵されている8世紀にも渡る皇族が着用した織物、道具の数々の国宝の一つに、僧侶の装束である袈裟があります。この袈裟に施されている継当ては何とも言えない不思議な、そして私にとっては地球上で一番美しい織物に映って見えます。仏陀の精神では、ぼろい布でもしっかりとした縫い目の古布を身にまとっており、それは奥深い本物の価値があり捨てる事ができる筈のない金襴※だったのです。(きんらん※金糸を絵緯(えぬき)として文様を織り出した織物。中国では〈織金(しよくきん)〉というーkotobankより引用)そして、それらの構成された煌びやかな美しさとそれに施されるあて布は、他に類を見ない特別さと神秘性を一段と強いものにしたのです。

mend3 While no kesa, this simple farmer’s kimono of homespun striped indigo, (generosity of Stephen Szczepanek of SRI Threads) has been torn and worn and patched and mended time and again, with no attempt at artfulness or design of placement, just simple obdurate bits of cloth sewn onto the tear or the wear. Honesty is its own reward and the mending is a song of “take me as I am”. Nothing fancy, nothing twee. Just the mends.

With a little patience anything can be mended in Japan. I remember one Christmas, the two presents from my husband were a pair of my own sheepskin gloves the dog had chewed and I had thrown away. My resourceful young husband had retrieved them from the trash and lovingly stitched them back to life. The second was a beloved jam pot from Finland that I had knocked over in a battle with a bee and inadvertently smashed into bits. He mended it and each crack was filled with his love and care for what could still give good service and pleasure to behold. He wrapped them beautifully and put them under our second Christmas tree. Other presents he gave me over the years I may have forgotten, but these two I never will. The preciousness of things repaired!

袈裟が無かった時代、農民の衣類は手織りの縦縞の藍染めで出来ており(Stephen Szczepanek氏によると、スリランカの糸)それは繰り返し繰り返し手直しーデザインの試みなどはなく、布の端切れをただ単純にまた端切れや衣類に施し、それを着、裂かれ、当て布をしてまた着る、を繰り返していました。布が持つ誠実さのお礼と手直しを施す様はアメリカのアーティストの曲にある”Take me as I am “のように、何の飾りも可愛さもない、実にシンプルに、お直し、なのです。

 ちょっとした根気と忍耐があれば普段の日常生活でもお直しが可能です。あるクリスマスに、夫からプレゼントされた2つのプレゼントがあります、一つはウールのの手袋で、愛犬が噛みちぎってしまい泣く泣く捨てた事がありました。ですがそれを見ていた思いつきと工夫が素晴らしい夫は、その手袋をゴミ箱から引っぱり出し、なんとも愛らしく縫い合わせ、また使えるようにしてくれました。もう一つはフィンランド製の保存便で、これは私が蜂と格闘した時に何も考えずにその保存便で力一杯蜂を仕留めたところ、見事に破片となってしまったのです!!ですがその破片の一つ一つを、夫は愛と思いやりでつなぎ合わせてくれたと同時にまた使えるようにしてくれただけではなく、綺麗に包装し直し、再度クリスマスツリーの下に置いてくれました。以後何年にも渡り夫がプレゼントしてくれた数々の品物は忘れてしまいました!が…その二つは一生忘れる事はないでしょう。とても貴重な、お直しをされたプレゼントだったのです! 

 

mend4 Blue and white plate by Ai Kobo Special Abilities workshop in Tokyo, on rag weave place mat by Tamagawa Fukushi Senta, another Special Abilites Center. Blue & White spotlights the creations of many special abilities workplaces throughout Japan.

The operative word is MOTTAINAI – too good to waste. Making the best of what you have. Washi and cloth were the most commonly available materials to use as reinforcements, but other fillers were also used. Paper mends on glass. Gold lacquer mends on plates. Washi mends on baskets. Today at the flea market, I even found a lovely old 19th century fluted blue and white plate that had been patiently mended with a surprising patch of dark wood lovingly carved to the same thinness and flute. Another first for me – I have them all the time in Japan.

多摩川にある特別用語施設で織られたランチョンマットと、藍工房特別養護施設による藍と白のお皿です。私共Blue & White は日本全国にある障害を持つ人々が働く施設から生み出される素晴らしい創造力と作品にも注目しています。

 重要な意味を持つ言葉、「もったいない」ー無駄にできない。持っているものを最良にするー和紙や生地は最も手に入れやすく、また一般的に素材の補強に使われているものですが,他の素材も同じように使われています。紙はガラスのお直しに、金の塗料は陶器のお直しに。和紙は籠のお直しに使われています。今日のフリーマーケットで私が見つけたものは19世紀の藍と白のお皿に溝が掘られたもので、そのお直しは深い色の木で同じ細さに削られた繊細な継ぎ跡が施されており、とても興味深く素敵な品物でした。私のお直し新発見です。いつもいつも、日本で新しい発見を私はしています。

 

mend5 Just as I found it at the flea market years ago. Old washi ledger papers pages used to mend glass sembei jars? Why not!

数年前に骨董市で見つけました。古い和紙の帳簿の一ページで煎餅の保存便がお直しされている??素敵じゃない!

mend6 Washi circles of old ledger book paper were used to restore shoji in an old minka in the mountains by Seiichi and Reiko Hagiya – master menders and restorers of all things paper including this old Daruma painting on washi I once found scrunched up and forgotten in a tansu drawer in an antique shop in Oiwake, Nagano. The Hagiyas have mended and reinforced and pasted it onto the sliding kura door in the entrance to this old minka to keep out wind and cold.

山の中にある古民家の障子です。ハギヤセイイチ.レイコ両氏-紙の修復の師範-により古い和紙の帳簿を丸く切り取り継ぎ当てお直しされています。また、下の写真は、以前長野の軽井沢にあるアンティークショップの古い箪笥の中に、存在を忘れられていたしわくちゃの和紙に描かれた達磨です。両氏はまた、このしわくちゃになった和紙に強度を持たせ、蔵の入り口の引き戸に張りつけてくださり、古民家に入る寒い時期の隙間風の改善に力を貸してくれました。

mend7   mend8 The never‐give‐up Hagiyas knotted nets of cotton twine to enmesh white pebbles of similar size to replace the matching nobs long since disappeared in the generations of use this medicine chest of drawers has seen.

絶対に諦めない精神を持つハギヤ両氏は、長い間紛失していた薬箪笥の取手ですら、白い小石をネットに包み再現させてしまいました。

mend9 Running rabbits, 19th century Imari plate was in pieces when I bought it. Repairs just add character and history.

19世紀の伊万里焼、走り回る兎のお皿。買った当初は割れていましたがお直しにより、新たなキャラクターと歴史が生まれます。

mend10 Tender mends to the plates of Omine Jissei above and an unknown potter of the Edo era, 18th century perhaps, make the dishes more distinctive and give a feeling of care.

大嶺實清氏の作品、とてもやわらかな表情のお直し。

mend11 A beloved soy sauce container by Fumiko Kikuchi, now 93, and still kneading bits of her soul into each pot she creates.

キクチフミコ氏によるとても可愛らしい醤油差し、93歳になる現在でも彼女が生み出す作品一つ一つに、彼女の思いが練り込まれています。

mend12 Imagine! Repairing with wood! Honed and fluted to match the contours of the missing piece.

信じられますか?!木のお直しです。研磨され、溝を埋め、そして欠けて無くなった破片にもなっています。

mend13 The playful repairs in the plates and dishes of Pasta Coh, a delicious Italian restaurant across the street from Blue & White make the food fun and make you hope your meal will be served on a mended plate. The chef repairs them himself.

何とも遊び心があるお直しが施されたお皿でしょう。麻布十番Blue &White の斜向いにある、とっても美味しいイタリアンレストラン、パスタコーのお皿です。シェフご自身でお直しをされています。お食事もそれを頂くあなたも楽しくなる事でしょう!

mend14

mend15

Under indigo kasuri covered cushions a cozy corner in an old minka was once a horse stall. 

藍染めの絣に覆われた居心地のいいクッションが’置いてある箇所はかつて馬小屋だった古民家の部分です。

mend16 Cushions covered with a riot of antique kasuri/ ikat patterns need mending each year. Spare bits of cloth are zealously saved to replace torn corners and cover various holes. Finding just the right match of size and tone of blue and pattern is the challenge.

クッションカバーは、なんとも面白い古い絣の模様でその年ごとにお直しされています。当て布にされる数々の端切れは多種多様な穴を修復するために大切に保存されています。その穴に合うサイズ、と藍色に合う色、模様を探し出す事はとても手応えのある仕事です。

mend17   mend18 Bad dog! A dining room chair falls victim to a young puppy.

いたずらっ子の仕業!!!!食卓の椅子が、子犬の犠牲になってしまいました。

mend19 Bad Bad Dog! Mend over matter. Mending with cachet is part of the fun. This graceful chaise longue, covered in kame nozoki indigo, quick dip in the indigo pot, was ravaged by our unruly young Labrador, Basho. A shaggy blue embroidery by Shobu Gakuen appliqued to hide the damage creates a new sofa and helps to take away our pain at the wanton destruction.

本当に悪い子!!!!筋金入りです!!!!!お直しは強いです、そして上質なお直しは楽しみの一つでもあります。この優雅な長椅子は、しつけを守らない私たちの飼い犬、若いラブラドール、芭蕉の仕業で背もたれの部分が破壊されてしまいました。その部分に、瓶覗き色の藍に染められた糸で作った布を覆っています。(瓶覗きとは藍の中に素早く浸した淡い藍色の事です)鹿児島県にあるしょうぶ学園の皆さんにその瓶覗き藍の糸でもじゃもじゃの刺繍をしてもらい、無惨に破壊された部分を隠しそしてまた新しいソファに生まれ変わった事によって、私たちのショックを取り払ってくれました。

mend20 Make the mend matter. Make it part of the presentation like this stole of spotted silk indigo the artist burned by mistake, and so she finished the holes off with gold beaded bling and stitched around it to make sure they would be noticed. Mends are nothing to be ashamed of. They show care and persistence and a steadfast appreciation for something in your life. Kansha is the word in Japanese – appreciation and gratitude for things/ goodness, service, usage received.

そしてお直しは重要です。藍染めのシルクのストールの白い水玉部分を、作者が誤って燃やしてしまいました。そこで彼女はその穴を玉がついた金の糸で穴の周りを刺繍し、あえてそのストールを魅せる演出にしたのです。お直しは何も恥ずかしい事を隠すものではありません。あなたの生活の中での思いやりや物を存続させること、確固たる感謝を表す事につながります。日本語で、感謝、とは物やサービス、良い事、全てに対する事への謝意の現れです。

mend21 A multimended bag of indigo mosquito netting, kaya just keeps on going. With time and patience, nearly all things can be mended. Cups, plates, photos, glasses, trousers, books, vases, sweaters, bones, feelings, relationships. Bags. Hearts are harder.  

全てがお直しで作られた、藍染めの蚊帳バッグです。時間と根気があれば、ほとんどのものがお直しできます。コップ、お皿、写真、ガラス、財布、本、花瓶、セーター、骨、感情、人間関係、鞄。私たちの感情、心のお直しの方がそれらより難しいのかもしれません。

mend22 But we can try . . . . .

ですが、やって見る価値はあるかもしれませんね。

mend23 Mid 20th century? child’s rice bowl, mended with a smile.

20世紀半ばでしょうか。子供用のご飯茶碗が、笑顔のようにお直しされています。

 

Posted in Journal | 4 Comments

HAPPY BLUE YEAR

Blue1

JAPAN’S A BIG BLUE PEBBLE                                                        thank you Kathryn

Blue2

A flying saucer. A nearly perfect blue saucer by Omine Jissei of Yomitan in Okinawa.

Blue3

Old Ema prayer plaque, wooden shrine votive, 19th century perhaps.

Before the year of the snake has slithered away and the Blue Horse trotted in let’s put on our blue goggles and see just how much blue there is in our world.

Tokyo’s very language is blue. Crisp winter skies are a brilliant crystalline blue. Under them, shiny blue garbage trucks ply the city streets. Blue traffic signs tell us where to go in a city that largely does without street names! People wear blue. Ubiquitous jeans – Muji is starring them this year. Uniforms, of course, are blue. Mums wear blue suits to their children’s school meetings, first days of school. Wherever there is a message to be communicated, the communicating language is blue. And often the most heart filled blue is indigo. Blue as the language of communication mostly likely sprung out of a traditional indigo society – Japan Blue as early 19th century visitors called it – whose favored and most available and permissible color was indigo.  It could be grown and dyed at home and most houses produced it. The color of clothing of the common man was indigo as labor intensive as it was.

Blue4

Indigo laundry line at Kosoen, Indigo Dye Workshop in Ome, in the western blue hills of Tokyo.

Blue5

Indigo stripes, produced by itazome, clamping cloth between two boards with grooves carved in them produce stripes, are a speciality of Kosoen.

Blue6

Which blues to choose wonders Eiji Kobayashi, 16th generation  (his son Kenji is behind him) now retired head of Todaya Shoten, a Yukata and Tenugui dyer that uses controllable chemical dyes to approximate the rich depth of indigo and its shades of indigo without the mystery and the alchemy.

Blue7

Blue bowl by Ai Kobo, Indigo workshop for special abilities members.

Blue8

Blue bridges: Kiyosumi Bashi over the Sumida River between Chuo ku and Koto ku.

Blue9

Blues in the night. Eitai Bashi, two bridges down from Kiyosubashi.

Blue10

Blue skies and clouds over Issey Miyake’s A-line headquarters on the Sumida River.

Blue Mystery

Imagine our surprise when this blue fever started appearing on streets and sidewalks in our Sumida River neighborhood where the great poet Matsuo Basho once lived and wrote his haiku. His spirit remains in the Basho shrine on our street, the river park and statue of him which rotates on its pins in the evening to look out to the river, and swivels back in the morning to welcome visitors who climb the stone steps to do him honor. Basho’s museum is a few blocks away. But who wrote the blue arrows and messages in English chalked on the sidewalks and pavements promising sake and haiku if we followed their directions? We never could quite find either the sake or the poetry, but the blue messages were intriguing. Sadly they washed away in the rain.

Blue11

 Who knew where the blue chalked messages came from or where they were leading in the New Year. They invited us to follow them and their arrows, but we never found the promised haiku and sake, though we had an intriguing time following the blue messages unti rain washed them away.

Blue12

Our black dog Basho is curious too.

Blue13

Blue on the way to the flea market at Tomioka Hachiman Shrine, 1st , 2nd and 4th, 5th Sundays of the month.

blue14

Blue on the way home. The back gate of the dynamic Fukagawa Narita Fudou Myou Temple where you can have your car blessed, or attend one of the dramatic fire ceremonies held there 5 times daily.

Blue15

Blues at the market. Heavenly blue boro (sleeping futon cover patched and patched and patched again) the whole range of indigo in wondrous compositions. Hard for me to leave behind, just as the maker couldn’t give them up. She simply kept mending.

Blue16

Piles of blue: indigo rolls of stenciled futon material and ikats waiting to be taken home and given new roles in life.

Blue17

Stacks of vintage indigo ikats – a riot of design in two basic colors.

Blue18

Engaging dealer in blue who remembered the long line of big black dogs I have led to the Sunday markets over the years. Behind him a stone horse statue is hung with sacred straw and washi decorations for the New Year. It is the year of the horse, after all. He and his mate at the next stall come to the markets regularly and banter with the classically dressed traditional Japanese singer – nagauta – who lives in an similarly impeccable house just across the road. They joke with each other, and the elegant gentleman in silk Oshima kimono winds up walking home with a small wooden shelf hung over his arm laughing as he explains to me that if he didn’t buy something from them, there would be trouble. When I compliment him on the beauty of his kimono says he has nothing else.  He doesn’t own a pair of shoes!

Blue Prayers

Blue19

Blue Prayers at a roadside shrine in Chuo-ku, near Kiyosumi Bridge.

Blue20

10,000 folded washi cranes.

Blue21

Bits of indigo scraps tied to willow branches in hopes for good health, good humor and good times, good friends good family, good Blue & White dreams.

Add just a pinch of white from the Hari Kuyo ceremony for broken needles at Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple on a snowy Saturday February 8.

Blue22

Blue23

A long line of priests under bangasa, paper umbrellas, clop to the small temple where Hari Kuyo, the ceremony for broken needles is held every year.

Blue24+

The large cake of tofu in which the used needles are given a soft burial and thanked for faithful years of service by seamstresses and designers and people who sew.

Posted in Journal | 2 Comments

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE

IMG_3565 Wreath of scrunched up pages of old Blue & White calendars.  Mottainai incarnate!

WA can mean so many things in Japanese: first of course is peace, harmony.

It can also be a circle, as in a circle of reconsecrated calendar pages.

Or a circle of friends like you who read these words, and our Blue & White circle of friends.

And it can go so far as to mean Wow!  Joy!

All in all a good word to begin December’s blog (albeit in January)

December has a way of celebrating important landmarks in life.

IMG_0937

 Blue & White’s Birthday, the 38th  – imagine!

Reiko Hagiya in birthday suit she made of reused Blue & White calendar pages with her resourceful husband Seiichi.

The end of the year. The culmination of many things accomplished over the months past.

On the 7th of the month we had our Blue & White birthday party and loyal fans came out in full force to make the day not simply a birthday, but a landmark, commemorating all that Blue & White believes in – The Beauty of Japan !

IMG_0897

Dried persimmons from a farmer in Nara, artfully arranged in washi pockets – a gift of grace from Sumiko Enbutsu.

IMG_0852 Mini Washi Otafuku masks by Fusamoto Kenji.

The energy and purity of things made by hand.

The perfection of indigo.

The heavenly origins of blue.

The cosmic inspiration of blue and white.

The importance, the energy of neighborhood – Azabu Juban is one of Tokyo’s coziest and most variegated.

The fun of putting opposites together and seeing the combustion that results:  blue and white, old and new, serious and playful, surprise and expected.

Something5

 Birthday feast by Reiko Okunushi and other great cooks.

The food culture of Japan

The pure joy of sharing with people the best of Japan

The community of friends we have throughout Japan, throughout the world

The pleasure of welcoming them all into our tiny and chaotic shop

The enjoyment of laughter and chatting and telling our stories

The importance of the spirit of Mottainai – treasuring things, making them last …and last

The celebration of Christmas, though foreign to Buddhist philosophy, is still very popular amongst shopkeepers and their customers.

Something6

Mottainai Christmas decoration of cut off ends of tenugui tied to a network garden trellis.

Something7

Bamboo transported to our local bamboo craftsman for making Kadomatsu New Year’s Decorations and other auspicious New Year’s installations.

Something8 Kadomatsu of Pine Bamboo and rice straw – three auspicious plants.

Shime  Kazari, New Year’s decorations by Takako Nishikawa of Ishikawa Prefecture.

Something9There are many ways of expressing the joy of the New Year. The rice straw shimenawa of Takako Nishikawa are fresh and original creations that filled our window with their spirit of pure and fresh new beginnings.

She takes the tradition of using sacred straw rope and washi and paper mizuhiki made in Ishikawa, and gives them a new twist with garlic bulbs and red peppers and other surprises.

Something 10

Nishikawa san used nandina red berries and sharp black sumi calligraphy to give old traditions new freshness and punch.

Something 12

Something 11

Totally new, totally original, Nishikawa san’s New Year’s decorations are a heartfelt message of renewal and purification.

Something 13

 The last hurrah on an early morning Sumida River dog walk.

7 serious office workers practice for an upcoming birthday party and invite our black dog Basho to join the dance.

Joy and Peace and WOW! to all from Blue and White and friends.

Hina dolls

 

A lovely tribute by Susan Detjens’  FLower Flinging blog.

flowerflinging.com
celebrating flowers, floral design, flower shows, fun and sometimes food

Happy Birthday Blue & White!
Posted on February 6, 2014 by Susan

HB1

While the dense snows piled up yesterday, I took a most magical walk down memory lane with the discovery of the “Blue & White” blog posting, forwarded to me by Mrs. Olana.  Blue & White is the iconic Tokyo shop of Amy Sylvester Katoh and is currently celebrating its 38th birthday!  At a time when Japan was rushing to modernism and western goods, Amy embraced the vanishing folk art skills that were the heart of Japanese culture.  She founded Blue & White to showcase the hand-made, to celebrate the dearly original ideas of hidden crafts men and women and to find new audiences for their work.

HB2 c Amy Katoh

When our young family moved to Tokyo, Amy and I met through mutual friends while our children were in school together.  She introduced me to the fascinating world of antique sales held in temples and shrines and, on Sundays, together we roamed Tokyo.  Amy is the author of 4, soon to be 5, wonderful books.  Each one is imbued with her warmth and her ever-generous enthusiasm as she shares what fascinates her about Japan and Japanese style, the essential and honest truth of objects crafted with love.  Her blog achieves the same resonance of spirit.

HB3

c Susan Detjens

We had great fun amassing the beginnings of a Japanese guidebook together before the exigencies of my leaving Tokyo for London got in the way.   Fast forward a number of years later, another project loomed. Japan Collages.  Amy invited me to do a mixed media show celebrating Japanese life in the ‘city-village’ that is Azabu Juban.  These schoolgirls were featured on a set of notecards.

HB4

c Susan Detjens

The first in the tradition of the hand-made books that I still make today, “Azabu Juban” was my love-letter to this unique area.  It was formatted in an 18 page accordion-fold book with yukata fabric covers and hand colored drawings.

 

HB5

The Blue & White blog post that inspired this reminiscence was a delightful compilation of many clever craft projects using the Blue & White annual calendar. Check out the blog: http://blueandwhitetokyo.com/2013/12/05/december-already/.  I have a pile of these calendars that mark our lives as expats.  Trips, parties, language lessons, visitors, school events…they are all there.  It became a challenge to decide how to use the calendars without destroying these memories.

HB6 c Blue & White

Over the years, the calendars changed shape and even changed the shade of  blue.  This favorite cover from 1996 is a New Year’s game called Fukuwari, rather like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey…..only this is pin-the-features on Otafuku……

HB7

In the end I decided my Blue & White challenge would be to make a blue and white bowl to celebrate my friend’s anniversary.  As we did not usually spend July and August in Japan, I sacrificed those mostly empty pages to create the bowl above, using a deep indigo artist’s paper as the background.  The technique is much the same as in the container in the last post “Flora for a Young Girl“.

HB8

Happy Birthday Blue & White!  Congratulations Amy-chan and to everyone who keeps the shop humming.  We so miss you, all the doings and all the fun.

Kampei!!

http://www.flowerflinging.com/happy-birthday-blue-white/

Posted in Journal | 3 Comments

DECEMBER ALREADY!

IMG_3375

Plans for the new year, hopes and dreams too, need noting.

The new Blue & White Mottainai Calendar rolled in from the printer last week and is guaranteed to make you laugh – or smile at the very least.  It should provide humor and surprise in 2014. Large squares provide ample space to record plans and promises.

Pages of old calendars have been repurposed with the free and inventive imagination of our friends and fans and creatively turned into hats and lunch boxes and necklaces and notes.

IMG_3368

MOTTAINAI means too good to waste. It is a beautiful term from Buddhism that is central to the mindful upbringing of most Japanese, (notably the older ones!) that honors the preciousness of things.

Treasure it. Waste not. Too good to waste. Use it again. Too good to be true. So many nuances, so many layers of meaning.

Generations of grandmothers have taught their grandchildren about the importance of treasuring each thing, eating everything on the plate, and not throwing things away.

IMG_3426

Today recycling is a new imperative at Blue & White where we use only old shopping bags from other stores that our friends bring into Blue & White, and make eco bags of rejected materials from the dyers, and notepads from leftover paper from the printers.

For years friends amazed me when they write letters, postcards, and gift cards on old Blue & White calendar pages they had saved. It delighted me to see the rebirth of old pages of the calendar and know Blue & White travels the world in many different forms!

IMG_3494

IMG_3434

Try it yourself and see what you can make out of our old calendars. There is no end of possibility.

IMG_3428

Old calendar pages reconfigured bring life and fun to the the New Year.

IMG_3504

We use the last bits of old calendars as labels and price tags in the shop.

IMG_3369

Recycling old Blue & White calendars can be playful and fun. Playing is important! Use it again. Make something that’s never been thought of before. And smile while you’re at it.

May 2014 be filled with play and innovation and happy surprises.

To order your own Blue & White calendar, please email or fax us at
blueandwhitejapan@gmail.com
FAX 813 3451 051 0512

Payment by credit card:  MasterCard, Visa, American Express.
Please send name
Card Number
Expiration date
Card security code 

Price:  ¥2,100 for calendar  

B&W P&H

Posted in Journal | 1 Comment