Tokyo closed down today – at last! Just for the weekend to begin with, but it is a start at keeping people apart and isolated in their own space, at home. Keeping COVID 19 from spreading. BLUE & WHITE also reluctantly closed for a month today, until the end of April. But who knows, maybe shorter, maybe longer, in compliance with the demands of the Corona Virus. In any wise, it was a painful decision.

NOW WHAT? How to spend those long weeks, months until the crisis passes? Everything is closed now. No entertainment, diversion, stimulation. Shops are closed in Tokyo. Museums, and flea markets at well. When I gave my friend Becky Wells some odd bits of molten glass

and old blue and white shards from the beach in an old covered and holey basket that I had inherited from somewhere, she responded gleefully. WOW! this is better than a flea market! and it’s free! She couldn’t wait to start creating. She also did some killer potato prints! But then she is gifted.

However can we go on with our lives with Flea Markets cancelled, and BLUE & WHITE closed? It’s not simple, but try reaching inside ourselves and our drawers. Finding long forgotten flea market finds that you had stowed away and forgotten, or maybe even hidden from your husband as I would sometimes do! Search drawers and cupboards and closets. You may be lucky enough to find some sashiko thread from Blue & White there. A bit of indigo cloth. Plain white is also good.

paper cupboard at home with old calligraphy papers, tissue, masking tapes and twine and silk kasuri threads for tying

Find forgotten plastic bags filled with ropes (as I recently did), or rags or bottles. Take them out. Wash them, reminiscing if you can, about when and where you found them. If you can’t go to the market at least remember the joy of the time you found these things. I took out the ropes I had squirreled away in an old basket, and I was happy to see the dirt fall away from them as I soaked them in warm water and shampoo. The pleasure of washing these old ropes that some farmer had twisted together to use in his work, making the best of leftover rice straw and cloth. These ropes remind me to dig deep within myself, to follow the spiral into what lies within.

Thinking about life. Contemplating about where we are. Perhaps something good, something beautiful can come out of sitting still, taking time to consider the beauty of forgotten things that once brought a bolt of joy when we first found it. Taking stock of what we do have, not racing off to get yet more.

Carpe diem yes, but even more, carpe res – seize the thing that you have, and enjoy it, even a thing so humble as a farmer’s rope made of leftover cloth. Even something you made yourself out of something someone else, you even! had thought to throw away. Take time to enjoy it. Make something new with it if you will.

GONE ARE THE DAYS! of runaway acquiring and uncontrollable hoarding, and unbridled speed in trying to do and buy more and more and more. Let’s follow the spiral and see where it leads us. And do less and less. Try sewing some of those indigo bits together. Make a cushion out of the sleeves of a kimono that you bought last year for Y1000 and forgot about. Learn kintsugi (restoring broken ceramics with gold and lacquer) and mend some of your broken and chipped plates.

Reach inside those drawers, inside those forgotten flea market bags. Inside yourself, and you may be surprised at what you find.

BLUE & WHITE has reluctantly decided to close its doors – but NOT our windows or our ON LINE SHOP, or INSTAGRAM, or OUR BLOG – for the next month. Until the Corona Virus storm passes. Please keep in touch. We are as active and as passionate as ever. Order on line and we will do our best to fill your orders.

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Despite the chaotic panic of Corona Virus, the natural world continues its own steadfast course. Birds fly. Flowers and trees bud and bloom. And fish swim.

photo kindness of Becky Wells

This week, thousands of tiny salmon were released into the Sumida River by school children in Koto Ward, who had grown them from eggs in their classrooms. We wish them long life!


On Monday, 150 Indigo Carp came to swim at Blue and White from Factory Ai, a facility for Special Abilities people using indigo dyeing as therapy for their disabilities. The flashing, multi-patterned, indigo creations are dancing from the ceiling where they will be on display til May 5, Boys’ Day, celebrating the bravery of boys, like the carp who courageously swim up waterfalls.

The joyful spirit and only one patterns of these Carp make them irresistible!
With patterns as varied as the Carp themselves, it is hard to choose which ones to take home. How to match them? We recommend choosing three: Small, Medium and Large for the boys of the family. Great baby presents too, to hang inside or out.
Girls always welcome!


A Carp free-for-all at feeding time.
Koi Inspiration: The Remarkable Weaving of Sophie Wise, a dedicated young weaver living in Tokyo
She starts by hand dyeing the skeins of lustrous silk
Then she sets up her loom to weave her intricate designs

Sophie Wise, a gifted young American weaver living in Tokyo takes inspiration from the natural world of Japan as well as its contemporary architecture and features it in her weaving. We will present her Koi (Carp) inspired textiles in Blue & White from Saturday March 15. Her tapestries will swim with the indigo carp of Ai Kobo. Like us, you too will be intrigued with her ingenuity and dedicated craftsmanship when you see her work.

Table runners. tapestries, wall hangings, Sophie’s original creations are sure to brighten your life, and remind you of the flash and spirit of Japan.

Fish are jumping! at Blue & White!

Huggable Tai (red snapper) cushion by YAYA
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Things are different at our new 10 Day Tokiwa Gallery! Silly! Quirky! Unexpected! Laughable! and Surprising! It ends today. Sunday 8 March.

Starting with a SPECTACULAR SHISHI MAI DANCE (first time we’ve ever tried to use a video. Hope it works! It didn’t!) performed by Father and Son who live in the neighborhood. Son, an evolved and accomplished 40 year old Down’s Syndrome artist, was the head. Father was the tail. Their teamwork, punctuated by a lively drummer and recorded music, was perfectly performed and deeply touching, to say nothing of hugely energetic! The two men were clothed in a long homemade body of colorful sewn together strips of varying patterns and fabrics, and a heavy red ShiShi mask of thick layers of paper mâché, they danced for maybe 20 minutes as they cavorted from the street to inside the shop, exorcising all evil spirits and protecting the celebrants as they pranced. How we all need it in these frightening Corona Virus times!

It has been an exciting opportunity to show our collections, and Becky Well’s imaginative reworkings of Flea Market treasures, as well as the works of two special abilities centers that we feature at BLUE & WHITE. Tamagawa Fukushi Sagyo Center and Sora to Umi in Funabashi. Plus a special room filled with BORO! So many images to share, that we will be quiet and let the photos speak for themselves with the occasional caption.

At the entrance, a beaded African Yoruba beaded prince from Nigeria welcomes visitors with his folded paper gohei from Shimane to purify, and his indigo shibori mask to protect him from any virus. Indigo is said to grant immunity from bugs and snakes and germs.

Next to the entrance, is an altar with a Goddess, perhaps, of colorful silk threads by a 19 year old woman, floating on a thread sampler cloud also from SORA TO UMI Special Abilities Facility in Funabashi, just outside of Tokyo.


Houses, houses, houses. A favorite thing to collect for both Becky Wells, artist, and my fellow collaborator, and me. In clay and cloth and glass and wood and stone – houses of all kinds, hold our lives and house our dreams together. Behind a backdrop of raw washi by an aspiring young washi artist in Niigata who makes thick indigo and natural color washi buttons as well!

Books and pencils, creatures and faces make us laugh and wonder what they are, who made them and why?

on the top right is a miraculous tapestry of the Sumida River sewn by the gifted young man who performed the ShiShi Mai dance. It took him three years to complete. The needlework is impossibly dense and brilliant! The waves and fireworks and bridges are all in sight in front of the gallery, just minutes away from where he lives. We share the river with the famous haiku poet Basho.

Rusted iron wire sculpture with various unknown objects on a stepping stool with embroidered indigo length of old hemp cloth behind. To the left a whimsical wooden carving of a colorfully made up face from Shobu Gakuen, a remarkable special abilities facility in Kagoshima, in Kyushu, with offering of oranges.
Curiosity Table: Threads from a small red kimono and a larger white one are art on their own together, with a box filled with old stamps, a free form branch and a rusty spiral are an original collage of fascinating things created by Becky Wells.
Washi Imari! Hand painted soba cups and tea cups inspired by antique blue and white ceramics. Behind, a drawer frames the grouping of Edo era carved wood saints. Flea market transcended! The art and imagination of Becky Wells, gifted partner in the POP UP
Toilet kits large and small and huggable pillows of zingy tenugui material in by YAYA.
Jewel like stitchery on antique indigo pins sewn by the clever artisans of Tamagawa Special Abilities Workshop
Coasters too. Or even patch pockets for your jeans
School’s cancelled. Lots of children have come to write out their dreams, fold origami, and and stick them in the mountain of paper scraps.
Contented customer returns the next day to show us how stunning her new embroidery is when matched with her own outfit.
contented companion Basho in front of a cardboard screen by then 14 year old granddaughter Ruby Momo
stunning sheer linen hanging with stitched shapes of white by Sora To Umi – Sky and Sea
Wild mix of ragweave old jeans, woven wool plaid stitched by Yoshida Ichiro, THE ULTIMATE ORIGINAL! Discovered at MAIYU GALLERY in Kyobashi.

Whether it be a stitched length of cloth, or a carved wooden face, a button or a painting; whether it was created by a child or a person with disabilities, an old man or woman or someone without impairment, art comes from somewhere within. There is a spark of creativity that all these artists were born with. Conscious or unconscious, that spark can be encouraged and nourished. Our POP UP SHOP AND SHOW shone a light on a selection of artists who bring lightness and joy to our lives with no boundaries between able artists and others. We thank and encourage them all.

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