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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More Spirit than Art is the upcoming BLUE & WHITE SHOP AND SHOW at the 10 DAY Tokiwa GALLERY. FEBRUARY 29 – March 8, 12 – 5 Daily

What do Boro, Special Abilities Art, and Bonito Flakes, above, have in common? What power do they share that infuses them and imparts energy and wonder and hope? Why am I so drawn to these disparate forms of expression? It may simply be that they are spontaneous and unintentional, unplanned pieces of art. They work with what is available and make the best of their abilities to express something that cannot be created rationally.

This Goddess of lustrous silk threads comes from somewhere within the artist that otherwise might not have found an outlet for expression. What was he thinking? Did he know that my dream is of a Textile Museum in Tokyo? and when it happens, she will hold the special place there.


Snippets of embroidery on scraps of material were sewn onto lengths and pieces of linen to be used as wall hangings or shawls or scarves or any which way by SORA & UMI Special Abilities Workshop

I wanted to buy this mysterious message of small embroideries sewn onto a piece of ecru linen.  Of course it had been sold before I returned, but the owner has kindly agreed to let us display it for our upcoming show.

Years! ago, I bought this enchanting embroidery of faces on a simple piece of spotted cloth at NishiNishi in Takamatsu, Shikoku.  Through moves and changing exhibits, I have treasured this moving thread work map of human feelings.

And then there is the eternal BORO, the art of making do, making things last. Made of thick linen bags for straining sake, mends and all, by forgotten people, sake brewers probably, making every bit of cloth matter, using whatever was available and unknowingly infusing it with unintentional, intuitive beauty.  The beauty of usefulness. The usefulness of what is available. 



Spirits have no boundaries.  Here an African Yoruba beaded prince, waves the cut and folded washi Gohei of the Ariga ?Matsuri in Shimane.  Below a huge and fearsome Dragon of painted washi and bamboo curls up in a corner of The Pola Gallery in Ginza at a marvelous recent exhibit of the little known arts and culture of Japan.  Noticing my interest, they generously presented me with the paper and bamboo Gohei..

Special effects fireworks explode from his mouth! (Dragon photos by Becky Wells)

What is it in festivals, special abilities artists and flea markets that ignite a flame of shared vitality in us?  Why do we have to keep returning.  No money left, but still there are things we must have! Must live with.  Must try to create new things with. More than an addiction, it is a spark of energy and life that we find in these varied expressions of spirit, of something beyond us.  We reach out to touch their unintentional beauty and their spirit of innocence! Become a part of it.


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Japan is keen on firsts. Not first prizes necessarily, but the first plum blossom of the season, the first bonito, the first bamboo shoot, the first sake. New Year’s Day is the day of the firsts of the year. All are GOOD NEWS in Japan. I was thrilled to see our heroine Otafuku hung from on high at the Kitte Building, the restored Post Office Building in Marunouchi, welcoming visitors from all over Japan with drums and cavorting Shishi Mai. A first appearance there, I am sure!

FUKU FACE! The face of Good Fortune! Otafuku is smiling down on all visitors at the KITTE BUILDING in Tokyo’s Marunouchi, across from Tokyo Station. OTAFUKU JOY OF JAPAN is a book written by Amy Katoh in 2005, detailing the history of this charming Goddess of Merriment who has spread good fortune and made Japan smile since mythological times.

The first window of the year at BLUE & WHITE featured New Year’s Decorations of bamboo and flowers and rice straw ropes by Nishikawa Takako of Ishikawa Prefecture, topped with a whimsical New Year’s Rat/mouse, this year’s zodiac animal by Reiko Okunushi.

The first flowers of the year have been picked and arranged by our multi-talented Hayasawa Sayoko to fit in with displays.

BLUE & WHITE is a spontaneous repository of nature, craft, things made by hand, utilitarian items from the past such at this step stool, and the indigo ropes in the background Randomly, various things from different times and places around Japan, made for daily life, come together and join the shop’s impromptu serenade. A whole history of everyday Japan is tucked into Blue & White.

Our 2020 calendar is grouped with Otafuku from the rear and a small mask of her face, along with red camellias, blooming everywhere in Tokyo now.

A happy surprise at the end of 2019 was too discover this book of Japanese Antiques in a Series called Tokyo Art Trips in which Blue & White was flatteringly pictured and described. Green post-it marks the page
Kumquats from Takako Nishikawa in Ishikawa Prefecture in a bamboo cup in front of precious scraps of indigo clamp dyed cotton, too precious to throw away.
Materiels, supplies, tools. kits, presents, things for daily life, clothing, IDEAS! All can be found at BLUE & WHITE.

Variegated squares of Shibori gauze are the perfect size for handkerchiefs or that indispensable cloth you need in your purse, or a man wants in his chest pocket. A special creation by Ikeda Daigo, a talented young Kasuri weaver and indigo dyer in Kurume, these are the perfect small present to bring home to friends, and keep a couple for yourself.

Vintage indigo cloth has been frugally rearranged to create hand made Needle Books by the resourceful Cynthia Nanto. Her relentless attention to detail has produced small books with charming juxtapositions of pattern, and colorful “pages” of patterned felt inside, topped off with carefully curated cord with a washi button for dessert.

Beguiling hand embroidered indigo dog brooches play on a bed of paper punches waiting for dog lovers to take them home.

Things are always new and changing at Blue & White. Without really thinking about it, we always have new artisans, new materials and new ideas coming into our small shop. But I was surprised and delighted when a young man from the United States, after taking a long time to study all the shelves and corners, remarked that somehow we had managed to present a whole spectrum of Japan – time and design and craftsmanship, tradition and innovation in a small space.

The Cosmos in a Teacup! That is Blue & White.

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