5 hours ago
Monday, 16 January 2017
On Sunday, we had another adventure, traveling by bus and train to Akie Ginza's sashiko centre at Hinohara village, west of Tokyo. I think quite a few textile tours go there, but getting there without a tour bus is quite a trip.
From Tokyo, we took the train to Musashiitsukaichi where we changed to the bus for the last part of the journey. The bus took almost an hour and is quite infrequent, so you need to plan this trip very well. We went with Reiko Domon, Chie Ikeda and Akie Sakuraba from Yuza Sashiko, with Reiko's sister and her brother in law.
Here is the current bus timetable - the red times refer to Sundays.
Outside Musashiitsukaichi station, by the bus stop.
We got off the bus at Nango and walked up to the house.
The bus stop.
After the bend, we turned right up a narrow country lane.
This is Akie Ginza's house. The location is very rural and beautiful.
The house is a traditional Japanese farmhouse. We entered through the genkan, where there was a booth like in a museum.
Two flights of stairs reached up to her main gallery.
The rooms are full of Akie Ginza's amazing sashiko works. They are bold, strong designs, which reveal her origins as a fine artist.
Ginza-sensei uses sashiko threads in an interesting way, doubling threads or using different thicknesses to create special effects. She also used a lot of colour in her work.
She has also designed many items of clothing, displayed in other galleries.
The whole house is full of her creations.
We watched an interesting video about her life and work. Ginza-sensei started as a fine artist but later changed to being a textile artist.
She already had my book, which was a big honour for me! I have one of her books at home, but there were some others available in her shop, so I had to get another one as a reminder of our trip.
You can also buy her exclusive sashiko materials in the shop.
We walked back to the village together. It was so cold!
One of the great things about having the Japan Rail Pass this time has been the amount of traveling we have been able to do. From Hida Takayama, we went to Hamamatsu, where my favourite striped traditional narrow width cotton fabrics are made. It has taken quite a few years and a bit of detective work on my part to find the company that produces them is called Nukomori Koubou and is based in Hamamatsu.
We were going to buy as much fabric as we could carry!
We arrived in the evening, after changing trains in Nagoya and completing the last part of the journey by Shinkansen (bullet train). In the morning, it looked fine and not too cold, but very quickly it started snowing in Hamamatsu and became even colder than Nagoya station, which was definitely the coldest place in Japan so far.
Yoko Fukawa, who works at Nukumori Koubou, and her boss Akira Otaka met us at our hotel near the station and took us out to the new suburb in the north of the city where they have their studio and showroom.
It is a stunning modern building piled high with my favourite striped fabrics. I was in fabric heaven...!
They also make the coloured fabrics I use for my sashiko kits. We bought lots of different blues, purple and green, and dozens of different three metre long pieces of striped cotton. I had planned to buy whole tanmono bolts, but when we saw the choice of fabrics, I decided to get shorter cuts, so we could have more variety.
Yoko took us to meet weaver Tomoichi Ikenuma. He has about 20 power looms at his mill. The looms are around 50 years old and he weaves many of Nukumori Koubou's narrow width fabrics. Here he is with a natural indigo.
This was a highlight of our trip. This is the place where many of the fabrics I have used over the last 20 years have been 'born'. Totally amazing to see the looms in action and meet the weaver who creates these wonderful fabrics. The noise with all the looms running was deafening! Adding different wefts threads to the same warps gives the fabrics even more variety.
Some of the stripes.
These fabrics were originally for kimono, but nowadays all kinds of things are made from them. I love them for quilts and bags.
We will have the new fabrics on sale at the Spring Quilt Festivals at Edinburgh and Harrogate, and I hope to add them to the website sometime soon as well, now I have a reliable source straight from the manufacturer. Our bags were full of gorgeous fabrics as we made our way to Tokyo! But we will be back for more on our next trip, and hopefully will have some sent to the UK between now and then.
It was a clear day, so we saw Mt Fuji from the shinkansen on our way to Tokyo. The perfect end to a wonderful day.