-When did you start teaching at the school?
1979. Someone introduced me when the school was looking for an instructor to teach spinning. I started teaching the spinning and homespun classes in the Professional Course, then the workshops, and after that, there were requests from students who wanted to weave clothing fabric, and I was asked for guidance. That's how everything connected.
-That was about 6 years after the school opened. What were the students at that time looking for when they came to the school?
At that time, weaving was not so distant. There were many people who just wanted to do handweaving. People who worked in the Nishijin district, people who moved to Hachijojima and started weaving Honba Kihachijo, people who worked in boutiques, and so on. After that, I have the impression that the school has changed according to the times.
-Indeed. I also loved textiles and wanted to continue, so after graduating from the Textile department of my university, I studied further at this school. People at that time were not necessarily aiming to find a job, and the atmosphere was that we were thinking about how to make use of the weaving techniques we had learned. Now, I have the impression that more and more people are already thinking about finding a job before entering the school. With that, the school has changed, too. What do you think about such changes?
It's difficult. The main focus of this school is handweaving, but in the actual market, machine production is the mainstream, and in the case of synthetic fibers, handweaving becomes more distant. In the midst of that, it's important to connect the goodness of textiles to the economy, but if efficiency is prioritized, things will go in a different direction. I hope that those who study at school will be able to have a different perspective from short-term productivity. I don't know if that will lead to employment right away, but it will help in life somehow. The feeling of reality behind life is too distant nowadays. By working on handweaving, people will be able to realize how things are made, and what kind of background people's lives are based on. I think that will also lead to developing an eye for seeing the true essence of things.
|Teaching a spinning workshop at Kawashima Textile School, 1990|
-Is there something you remember most, looking back on the 40 years at the school?
In the late 1980s, prior to the dawn of spinning, there was a time when the school called instructors from overseas and held what were called "public workshops". There, Ms. Rainey MacLarty (Lorraine MacLarty) from Australia had been teaching a hand-spinning workshop for hair/fur fibers for over 10 years, and I sometimes worked as an assistant. Rainey-san would teach theoretically. Until then, I worked based on my senses, so it was inspiring to know that there was a different perspective. From the students' perspective, I think theory is reassuring as a guide when starting out. Even if you feel like you can understand it by the numbers, in reality it doesn't work exactly as planned. That's why I think it's important to have a sense coming from practice, based on theory.
-It has been 47 years since the school opened. I think that the reason that it has continued this far is because this school has its own characteristics, but what do you think they are?
A wide range of acceptance regardless of age or nationality. The fact that the foundation for learning from the basics has not changed, even if the times have. To be able to gain the experience of making by actually moving your hands. The possibility to have enough time and space to create, unlike following a cut and dried system, could be some.
-Being able to work in a quiet environment is also an opportunity to recapture the sense of time.
Among the students, there are some who understand how good it is to use time like that.
-In that sense, this school surrounded by nature is an environment where you can concentrate on making and face yourself quietly.
I think it is important to have time like that in your life. Looking at the students, there are quite a few people whose facial expressions change by the time they finish, two years later.
-It could be because they have come across something that they can confidently say "I can do this." It may be a feature of the school that students can change so much in a year or two. Is there anything you would like to tell the students?
In this era, the speed of change is so fast that we can't see the future, and continuing one thing itself may be difficult. In order to continue what you love, sometimes you can find your path by looking at things from various angles, and seeing them as one big flow in the long run. Set your own axis, and watch the flow of the world as if you were doing a fixed point observation from there. Even if at times you are swept away, you will be in a state where you can objectively see yourself being swept away. I think it would feel easier if you had a foundation like that.
-What does weaving mean to you?
What can it be, hmm... a feeling of security. When I am working on weaving, I feel calm, and can gain a feeling of security that I am together "with" weaving.
-It's a question that would be a problem if I was asked too (laughs). To me, weaving is not something special, but a part of my life.
Making fabric itself is tough, since it is time consuming and labor intensive, but it feels good to be absorbed in it while weaving. So it wasn't that hard to stay home even during the self-restraint period (due to the Coronavirus).
-What are your hopes for weaving?
I want weaving to remain in the future. I think it can be a way to think about various things, including relationships with people. It takes a long time to make handwoven fabric. Even for the yarn alone, in my case it takes days to wash the fleece, dry, loosen, card, and spin it into 100 grams of yarn. There were times when I wondered what I was doing, spending so much time, given the price of the same amount of machine-spun yarn, but I stopped comparing. I don't worry about it. Even in today's very busy world, yarn teaches us the importance of looking at it with plenty of leeway. That itself is the value to me, and what I think makes it irreplaceable.
-You have been with the school for about 40 years. In this interview, the words where you said, "Weaving is the feeling of security of being together" was a very deep message. The values of facing handwoven fabric and the importance of simple living has led to the continuation of your work in weaving.
In order to connect the school to the 50th and 60th years since its establishment, we will continue to go on as we draw a future image of the form of learning that suits the times, what will or will not change, based on the tradition and philosophy of the school as a foundation. Thank you very much for today.
It was the first opportunity for me to look back on the past like this. Thank you very much. Looking back from the old days to the present, once again I felt the change of the times. No matter how much the world changes, I want to start with a single strand of yarn.