Posts Tagged ‘tea’

On this morning we left the very wonderful Isobe Gardens where we had partaken in many of their amenities which included wonderful public baths, Japanese style rooms and gardens as well as a daily breakfast feast that got us off to a good start each morning. When we were leaving the owner/mgr came out to see us off and we presented her with one of our tour “memory books”. This was a book that included a page/profile of each of the tour participants and was given out as a thank you and remembrance to many people we wanted to especially honor as we traveled along.

saying sayonara

Unfortunately, the day we visited the area around the Kubota museum was a cloudy and rainy one, so we did not get a glimpse of Mt Fuji. The Japanese like to say that she is shy and not always available to be viewed. When I was growing up in Yokohama, this mountain could often be seen out our back door as we lived on a bluff with an east /west orientation. On a previous visit to this area in 2009 I was able to see it…

Fuji san

First up was the Kubota museum where we would view the collection of Ichiku Kubota and his marvelous tsujigahana kimonos. I was excited to be here again and anxious to share this experience with other first time visitors. The first time I was here I was by myself and felt it to be a very spiritually charged experience.
There were appropriately no photos allowed inside, so the photos here are from the outside gardens and the building itself- set in stunning gaudi-style architecture. What I think I enjoyed most was watching everyone else take in this beauty and just feel the presence of the man who had created it. Many were moved to tears and I felt some sort of comfort in that- that I was sharing the experience with the right people. If you ever do go visit here, make sure you ask to see the English version video that is available. It seems that they only play it if requested. It’s a gem.

Kubota museum

-the outdoor entrance and gardens to reach the museum door were relished as we made our way in as well as allowed for contemplation of what we had just seen inside when it was time to go. the recent rain added to the crisp green everywhere.

garden gate

We did manage to sneak in a visit to the tearoom where we were able to soak up more of Ichiku Kubota’s intention, which to me seemed to be that we take time to see and create beauty in this world. This place just seems like the embodyment of that thought. The tea set was more beauty-and delicious as well!

teaset at the Kubota museum

Time to leave but a final group photo before we did on the steps leading up to the famously beautiful entrance gate-

Silk Study Tour group 2011 at the Kubota museum

We had spent a little more time than planned here but really could have spent more…

So, back on the bus and we were off to a lunch stop that had been planned at a famous country style udon house on the way to see the indigo dyer Satou Aiko san. This was a type of udon I had never had and apparently a regional dish in this area- called hotou. It included many vegetables and had a squash stew sort of flavor. We all loved it! Brenda and I had no problem polishing ours off and Kathy at the end of the table kept one all to herself- I think it might of been her favorite meal!

hotou udon

There was only the one dish on the menu and it was served at long community style tables. The dried noodles were available to purchase on the way out.

busy eating- again!

So, back on the bus again and I was finishing the last details of my assignment from indigo dyer Satou Aiko san to prepare a piece to dip into the indigo. With a large group such as ours and a limited amount of time there was only time for a speeded up demonstration of the process. I prepared a silk scarf using makinui and makiage techniques and before pulling up the stitches I briefly explained the technique to my fellow travelers-

demo shibori for indigo

We poured out of the bus and Satou san and her helpers for the day were there to greet us-the rain hadn’t dampened our excitement one bit!

getting acquainted

She explained her process and showed us around…

the source-indigo plant

the vats-covered

dried indigo plant

we dipped a couple of sample pieces, working the fabric beneath the surface of the inky liquid. we rushed this as she would normally take more time but as a demonstration piece this sufficed.

dipping several times


Everyone enjoyed viewing her work which she had set up on display for us throughout the house and studio area-

indigo collection

a group photo with her and the piece she had prepared and dyed for us-

part of the group with Satou Aiko san

I have included more photos on the gallery page but wanted to share her thoughts in her own words here-

“I learned the wonder and goodness of indigo dyeing when I lived with the family of an indigo farmer twenty years ago in Hokkaido. I helped the farmer in his vast indigo fields. I learned to treasure and cherish indigo by dying cloth with the pigment of the indigo-making fabric into strong cloth and re-dying it when necessary to wear again. I never forgot the good feeling I have when I wear an indigo shirt at the time of the muggy, rainy season. My roots of the indigo dyeing seem to come from this experience. After working with the indigo farmer, I learned the fermenting process from the indigo dyer. Then I was fascinated with the indigo dying. I guess that my skin was refreshed with the indigo field and indigo fermentation. By the way, my under wears are all the indigo dyed cloths. I have been wearing those under wears for many years. Every year, I re-dye them again and again. The cloth is strengthened by the dying process. If some of them has holes, I patchwork or do sashiko on them to make then strong again.

Before the synthetic dying materials were developed, Japanese common people dyed their clothes by themselves. Since the advent of modern dyes, the indigo farmers and dyers divided and worked separately. Dyers specialized in indigo dyeing were born of this separation and referred to as Konya san or Aishi (terms for a dyer of indigo). These dyers had more than 200 indigo vats and many workers. After synthetic dyes were developed these Konya sans mostly disappeared.

When British people came to Japan they saw everyone wearing blue indigo dyed clothes and they referred to this color as Japan Blue. Today, we Konya work together with other craftspeople and use the name Japan Blue to represent this part of our history.

The above quote was taken from her upcoming website which is in the final stages of completion here- another little job being done on the side here in gratitude of the visit. We hope to have it up and live soon.

We said goodbye and were off to Tokyo for the final days of the tour. I had hoped to return here before I left Japan but it wasn’t in the stars. I resisted the intense urge to run off the bus and wave goodby to the tour with Satou san and her volunteers as the bus pulled away and sped us toward Tokyo. There is just really something connecting me to and drawing me to this place…

Satou sensei and student Glennis

mata ne!


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