February 8, 2011

Maeve Mulcahy

Watching the leaves fall
Six weeks at Kawashima Textile School

In the west, we see Japan as a beautiful mystery, a culture that embraces tradition and technology with such ease and precision. I was very inspired by the beauty of everyday life in Kyoto, the ritual of drinking tea, taking a bath and eating a bowl of rice, watching a monk sweeping leaves and elders tending to their gardens.

I came to Kawashima Textile School to learn the basic theory and methods of Kasuri weaving, and thanks to all the time and support I received from the teaching staff, I was able to experiment with the kasuri technique and create a large work which showed my understanding. I enjoyed using native natural dyes, and binding the yarn to create the patterns that I envisaged. I found working with the Japanese raw materials such as Ramie, Hemp, and bast fibers really inspiring, and I hope to experiment with them more in the future.

Autumn was such a beautiful time to be in Kyoto, watching the leaves turn crimson red and the night skies clear. It was nice to see the students wearing bright coloured felt and wooly hats to school as the days turned more cool. I was so happy to be able to see exhibitions of Japanese Textile artists in the city, and really got a sense that there is a thriving Textile community alive in Kyoto. At Kawashima, I was able to watch other students create beautiful Kimono cloth and see some really innovative ways of creating textiles, I was touched by the other students warmth and friendly nature, they made me feel right at home.


Maeve studied in the  Foundation and Applied Kasuri Course of Fall 2010.

February 1, 2011

Anastasia Macdonald

Weaving in Japan was a learning feat which I would have been sorry to have not undertaken. The technical knowledge alone is something that will vastly improve my weaving, dyeing, and design planning. Not to even touch on the tools and equipment which make even the most difficult task easier, and more precise.

Kasuri weaving was a labor-intensive technique which results in an endless amount of pattern creation. Learning this skill one-on-one with a knowledgeable teacher is an experience not to be passed up. There are nuances to this craft which would have been frustrating to learn from a book; so having the teacher present to guide one through was invaluable. I feel this technique is one which I can use in my own work and is easily adaptable to one's own style.

Staying in the dorms, eating home-style Japanese cooking, and getting along with fellow students has been a fun and funny experience for me. I will miss the hot bath of the onsen, the cafeteria ladies' delicious food, and all of the yummy treats my fellow students shared with me. I never felt that my lack of understanding the Japanese language was a detriment to my experience here; actually, at times it was something to be gotten much hilarity from!

at the Kawashima Textile Museum

As for the world outside Kawashima, oh, what fun!

There is so much textural history in Kyoto, from the beautiful shifuku of the tea ceremony, to the incredible kumihimo which adorns the kimono, it would seem that there are textiles in every part of the Japanese life. Traditional textiles are not the only type to be found here, the modern textiles of such designers as Mina Perhonen and Sou-Sou neither disappoint nor are lacking in panache.

One of the things I noticed as I was shopping was the creative displays and incredible attention paid to the packaging; things which have been an inspiration to me, from a business point of view.

Not to be forgotten, the food was delicious! Hot giant bowls of ramen, bittersweet cones of matcha soft serve, mochi wrapped anko, revolving sushi, and the many tasty treats to be found in the basements of Takashimaya and Daimaru. Oishii! I only wish that I could fit it all in my suitcase.

Places I found of interest:

Shijo-dori area:
mina perhonen
basement level of takashimaya; pan (bread)
6th floor of Takashimaya; wooden bento, shifuku
basement level of Daimaru; tea sweets, honey
basement level of Fujii-Daimaru; organic produce
Nomura-Tailor, floors 1-3; many varieties of fabric, pinbacks, sewing notions
lisn; modern natural japanese incense

Itoh Kumihimoten; just gorgeous silk kumihimo
sou-sou; really awesome tabi shoes
Gallery Kei; amazing unique textiles form japan's past, ramie, banana fiber, shifu
Ippodo; matcha tea, ocha tea, tea tasting and brewing demonstration
Kamiji Kakimoto; washi store

Kyoto Station:
Malebranche; delicious matcha and white chocolate cookies, matcha icecream

kitayama station:
La Droguerie; buttons, ribbon, liberty tana lawn, sequins
Kamigamo; 4th sunday of the month

Shijo-dori to Oike-dori, between Karasuma-dori and Kawaramachi-dori:
lin-net; linen fabric, linen clothes, linen bias tape, linen thread
avril; like habu textiles? you'll love avril.
Kyoto Design House
Ippudo; yummy fresh ramen, i ate here three times
konnamonjya (in Nishiki Market); tofu doughnuts

shrines/ temples/nature:
Saihoji (also known as Kokedera (moss temple))
Fushimi Inari Taisha


Anastasia studied in the Beginners Course and Foundation Kasuri Course of Fall 2010.
To read more about her studies and adventures in Japan, visit her blog, birds in chandeliers.