Oakland, California. January 21, 2017. The Women’s March. Over 100,000 people came out to march. Women, girls, men, boys. Black, White, Asian, Latina, Native American, Irish, Russian. Thi…
Category Archives: History
“WE UKRAINIANS ARE DEPRESSED. SO WE SMOKE AND WE DRINK COFFEE. UNLESS WE DRINK VODKA. BUT, I DON’T HAVE ANY VODKA TODAY.”
Nora puts herself in her art. Pointing to her sketch of a pregnant woman sitting on a turtle, she said, “See here. It’s my nose. I can’t paint without putting it in.” I bought this sketch, The Spa…
“We Ukrainians are depressed. So we smoke and we drink coffee. Unless we drink vodka. But, I don’t have any vodka today.”
Meet Nora, a painter in post-Soviet Estonia. She’s a chain smoking straight talker who can’t help but paint herself into her work. Together, we created a secret club in her studio.
The Japanese make an event of going out to see cherry blossoms, Spring emerging. This phenomena is rooted in Japan’s art and literature that savors Buddhism’s bittersweet appreciation of the inescapable changes in life. Cherry blossoms bloom; a week later the blossoms fall to the ground, still perfect – young and fragile.
I remember when I first lived in Japan. A Japanese man asked me why Americans like roses so much. He personally found roses disgusting. Admittedly, the rose bud and its mature flower is beautiful, but the flower will slowly decay…eventually turning black on its own branch. He preferred the cherry blossom that perched on its branch for a very short time and then gracefully floated down to rejoin the earth. Today the Japanese like roses as much as anyone else. But, nothing is loved as much as cherry blossoms.
Shibori is the 400 year old art of indigo dying in Japan. Often taking months to create one piece of fabric, the art from Arimatsu is an endangered craft. Chinese students now come over from the mainland to learn how to make shibori.
But, the shibori from Arimatsu is the most revered.
Saturday, a few weeks before Christmas and New Years. I expected to fight through crowds on the streets and in shops. The streets were virtually empty and no one was in the shops. How tragic! Some of the work is breath-taking!
How to get there: Take the train to Arimatsu, either from Nagoya Station or Kanayama -go to the Meitetsu-Nagoya Line. Get off the train, follow map at the station to the shibori region.
Arimatsu is Japan’s historical center of shibori (tie-dyeing) workmanship, since the seventeenth century, dating back to 1608. Arimatsu was an old Edo-period (1603-1867) post station town on the Tokaido highway between Kyoto and Tokyo.
The technique found its way to the Nagoya area when craftsmen from Oita in Kyushu, skilled in the shibori technique were ordered to help in the construction of Nagoya Castle by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and later settled in the area.
Arimatsu Narumi Shibori Kaikan is a good place to start. Classes are taught on how to make shibori: http://www.shibori-kaikan.com/kaikan-e.html.
Here is a charming video of the old ladies that spent a life time preserving the art. I am sorry, it is in Japanese, but you will see how the work is done and you can watch the women at work.
On the main street of the old quarter there are a number of fine, preserved merchant houses, with Nurigome-style, anti-fire, clay coatings and second-floor latticework windows, including Takeda’s house.
The original buildings were destroyed by a fire in 1784 and the houses seen today date from after that year, when the buildings were rebuilt with thick plaster walls and tiled roofs as a defence against fire.