September 4, 2013


“Utopic” was my first thought of planning a trip to Japan to study weaving. A year and a half later I was in a taxi, surrounded by steaming mountains in the Ichihara district, driving fast towards the final destination- Kawashima Textile School. The moment I set my feet inside the school, I felt at home. I was greeted with kind hospitality and warm curiosity by everyone- the staff, teachers and students.

After a small tour around the school and dormitory, I discovered that the facilities are not filled with modern machines such as digital looms and devices to spin or dye materials. Instead, I found myself in a school that uses basic traditional tools, has an amazing dyeing kitchen and people whose knowledge about traditional weaving and dyeing became priceless to me. I had amazing tutors who put their heart and soul into teaching us the basics of Kasuri and I have to admit- their patience was remarkable.

Another inspirational aspect of the school was the work ethics. I learned to be more thorough, detailed, organized, and even from the creative point of view my ideas became more well thought through. I enjoyed observing other students’ work processes- especially the ones that were studying kimono weaving, who were faithful to one design for several months.

All my weekends were filled with long bike rides from the dormitory through autumn colors to the center of Kyoto.

I might say that Japan with its rich culture was so inspiring that at one point it became overwhelming for me. That led me to another way of experiencing Japan- by simplifying the information and amazing environment in my head. I think that was the point where I started to understand the soul and philosophy behind Japan, Kyoto, its traditions, and the Kasuri that I was weaving behind the loom.

from the KTS Graduate Exhibition, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, March 2013

Working with kasuri was a big challenge for me. But after working with my first samples I started to understand the philosophy behind it. For our individual project I wanted to integrate this technique into my world.

To create two delicate luxurious scarves I used the combination of silkwool and wild silk and only natural dyes. In the first scarf I wanted to use the kasuri for making an optical illusion with the kasuri shape and gradient color mixtures. The second scarf opposes with “fantasy” kasuri, trying to use the strict and traditional technique in a new context. Without no rules or design, this scarf is made by only using my intuition.

The experience of learning traditional Japanese weaving was an influencial and amazing period for me as a young textile designer from Europe.

Johanna (Estonia)


Johanna came to KTS during her fourth year at Kolding School of Design (Denmark), in autumn 2012. She studied in the Foundation Kasuri Course, and Applied Kasuri Course I to III.