I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR BLUE

image001After 43 years of Blue & White, my eyes only see BLUE.  And it may well be that BLUE is taking over the color spectrum. From the skies, to the rivers to the bridges, and even the netting that surrounds them under repair, BLUE is the reigning color
The autumn skies in Japan and in winter are especially blue and vibrant against autumn leaves and snow.

image003Blue skies of summer are brush work paintings in themselves.  August clouds are like no others.  Of course, clouds are the best counterpoint to brilliant blue skies.

image005The blues of the sky meet the blue pacific ocean at Enoura, an enchanted sanctuary near Odawara built by photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto from an old mikan plantation, for solstice viewing and to be home to his astounding collection of centuries old stones and bridges, cobblestones and a 14th century gates.  A new must visit for travellers to Japan.

image007A massive torii of ancient stone pillars and lintels is the gate between the blue sea below and the Tea House that Sugimoto has designed after Sen no Rikyu

image009But blue’s not all skies and clouds.  People are blue too.  This celebrant in blue at the July Kumano Nachi Fire Festival was in strong contrast to the whites of the standard bearers who carried flaming red standards up and down these ancient steps.   An incredibly dangerous and thrilling sight!

image011A joyful young fisherman in Naoshima not only just in blue, but in blue karakusa, a favorite scrolling vine design.

image013A carpenter in Tokushima wrapped in an indigo dyed towel surveys the extensive damage done by a recent typhoon to a large old walled chieftain’s house in Tokushima that is fortunately a protected cultural property so that some government assistance will help with repairs.
Blue helps him smile, though he has his work cut out for him.

image015True blue believer at the ultimate Flea Market in Yamato, outside of Tokyo.  Everything and anything is there, from junk to treasure, and everything in between.

image017A beguiling shibori dress in indigo dyed washi at a recent Washi exhibit at Awagami Factory in Tokushima

 

image019Home dyed swatches of indigo shibori made as Christmas presents for a large family, sit photogenically in the kitchen of multifaceted Dorie Vollum in Portland.

image021Acrylic painting by Mina Katsuki, a Kyoto artist who only sees and paints blue – flaming cobalt blue.

image023A quiet beach scene at Naoshima, near the bus stop on the way home

image025The majestic shape of the roof of the Naoshima Hall was recently designed and built by Hiroshi Sambuichi of Hiroshima whose designs evolve slowly from long consideration of  the confluence of the essential elements: sun, wind and water.  A magnificent counterpoint to blue.

image027The buildings of the beautifully restored !8th century town of Mima in Tokushima, Japan’s indigo capital, are architectural masteries of carpentry and plasterwork where even the skies are indigo.

Below the Udatsu walls between houses are elegant firewalls of plaster and tile, built to prevent fire from spreading.
Uncommonly beautiful craftsmanship against blue skies in the restored town of Mima. Everything looks better against a blue background.

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image034Demon roof tiles, Onigawara, keep bad spirits away, under a glorious blue sky.

image036Of all the blues my eyes keep focusing on, one humble one was on a seat cushion of Zuisenji temple in the craftsmen’s town of Inami in Toyama.  The ladies of the temple had put their hands to crocheting cushions of all colors in  crysanthemum shapes for long prayer services on the spartan chairs in the main hall, but I ONLY HAD EYES FOR BLUE.

image038But then again, each time I think I have found The Ultimate Blue, something new/old keeps appearing.  And here was a Glorious Blue Boro at the OEdo Antique Market on Sunday December 19 that brought joy to my indigo heart.

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Blue & White Website

JOY TO THE  WORLD!

We are happy to announce the launch of Blue & White Japan official website!
Introducing the news of Japan and Indigo and all things blue and white, we also have launched the online shop. Currently only selling 2019 calendar but will add more of our great products very soon!

Please bookmark and visit us (or you can subscribe from our “blog” page):
http://blueandwhitejapan.com

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MATSURI SURPRISE

image001Some work is infinitely more exciting than other jobs.  Watanabe san, an enthusiastic and insistent customer at Blue & White urged us to take part in  the Hatoyama Jinja/ Shrine market that he was helping to plan on the 15th and 16th of September.  With scant enthusiasm, we agreed to bring Blue & White to the market.  Hayasawa san, the unadventurous manager of Blue & White  who luckily prefers to stay in the shop, unfortunately for her, went to the festival on Saturday, the rainy day of the weekend, while Sunday was the only day I could attend and fortuitiously it happened to be  a perfect Matsuri day.  Bright sun and even brighter spirits and dress!

image003Enthusiasm was palpable and all ages were decked in their best Matsuri gear.

image005Sakura and her Father wore matching yellow festival jackets to lead the parade from Takashimaya in Nihonbashi to Sendagaya, a long hot walk for a 10 year old dog!  They were followed by the 10 portable shrines of Hatoyama Shrine.

image007Each Omikoshi has its distinctive costume as well as its own house at the shrine, which also boasts a miniature Mt. Fuji that you can climb and accrue blessings.

image0095 Shrine priests blessed boy scouts and matsuri participants, even me! Everyone was decked out in their special outfit. And they were all spectacular.

image011Costume was stunning!

image013Everyone was pleased to pose!

image015The bold bravado of people and their outfits was on parade. Japanese indigo and design at their jaunty best.  They strengthened the sense of community identification.

image017Brilliant design.  Blue & white, of course!

image019Women brought their own chic.  Old men, young children, everyone took part.

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image023Style options.

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image027The 5 shrine priests waved their branches of sacred Sakaki to bless the convocation.

image029There is costume for most occupations in Japan.  The police warm my heart with their stand out blue and white, except when their lights are flashing behind me!

After leaving Hatoyama Matsuri, I rushed back to Blue & White in Azabu Juban which was also having its own children’s festival.  I was surprised to see plain white festival jackets and a fairly lackluster parade, though admittedly it was the 2nd festival in one month after the HUGE and famous Juban Matsuri at the end of August.  They may have been festivalled out.

image031My heart had been won over by this winsome little girl in blue and white at Hatoyama Jinja (shrine) Matsuri in Sendagaya, a new future destination when I have visitors looking for natural, authentic, genuine Japan!

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