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the years fly by

May 25, 2016


Family Album 131here’s to another year of fun and adventures

lots of love, Nanna


May 23, 2016

the sun reached the valley early

P1080838 mist rose on the hillside

after long nights of stitching

and fingers sore with puncture wounds

P1080758sensei arrived and it was back to work

in the foreground is a kotei

two flatirons in a heated container

they are used to iron seams

and to make all the stitching marks

(in place of tailor’s tacks or a tracing wheel)

P1080823handy little gadget – no, I didn’t bring one home

imagine explaining that to customs and security!

P1080820sensei had her own special ways

she held the fabric taut with her toe while stitching (lower left)

don’t think I can master that trick

P1080784making of the madder pigment continued

P1080792the pigment settles to the bottom

the top liquid is poured off and clean water added to top up

this was repeated until the pH tested neutral (about a week)

P1080833meanwhile Hiro baked an incredible cake to celebrate his birthday

P1090012and Bryan kept the indigo seedlings watered

P1090003finally the first hanten were finished and washed

P1080844another morning dawned

P1090044and there was peace in the valley

 then it was time to start our second hanten.

time to celebrate

May 20, 2016


P1080453love the braces

hugs, Nana.

and so it begins

May 20, 2016

up the narrow, winding mountain roads

to the Japanese Textile Workshop

P1080675home for two weeks

P1080747tea is almost ready for picking

P1080649inside we are greeted by one of Hiro’s magnificent ikebana

the casts of characters

P1080678Hiro and Julie

Julie had four kittens the day before we arrived

the last thing we did when leaving for Tokyo was to say goodbye to the kittens

img_0276Bryan, of course, already teaching at the table in the main room

P1080828Yazaki Keiko – sensei – professional kimono seamstress

and teacher extraordinaire

sharing her extensive knowledge, with patience and humor

all the while expanding her English while working 10-12 hour days

P1090529Truus, from Holland taking Geiger and Momo for a walk

P1080925from the left

Truus behind me, Heather from Australia, Corina from Switzerland

Teresa from New York with Bryan behind her

Heather from Canada behind Mary from Ecuador

we were to be Bryan’s first class (guinea pigs!)

making traditional handsewn hanten

P1080661Bryan modeling one he had previously made

P1080669but he wants to make a madder paste to use as a pigment

and it is going to take many days so we start that first

no pattern or written instructions for the hanten

P1090857just measurements

with sensei’s help we translated these into a working pattern

P1080756and start measuring and cuttingP1080774the fabric for the first, half-lined jacket

was a heavy, industrial denim

heavy to work on and difficult to hand stitch

P1080757with seven of us, all struggling to understand

and all needing help at the same time

instruction was sometimes slow and incomphrehensible

P1080754we could always go for a walk and gather bamboo shoots

P1080793Hiro kept us fed and our energy high

P1080749and even the famous mountain made an appearance on one of those walks

at the beginning

May 18, 2016

finally, after paying the bills, doing the laundry, restocking the fridge

 filling out my census form – after a second reminder from the government

and getting a start on the jungle

I’ve downloaded my pictures

but where to start?

the trip from Narita Airport to Tokyo

P1080580on the N’EX – fast train

it was rice planting time

P1080577not what you see in the tourist brochures

power lines are everywhere

P1080596this is how I felt by the time I settled into my hotel room on the 24 floor

what about earthquakes you ask?

just don’t think about it

P1080623the Takashimaya department store with Tokyo sprawled as far as the eye can see

and the train tracks leading into Shinjuku Station

P1080616my hotel on the left

P1080634pretty at nightP1080608the department store had a kimono exhibit


as always, beautifully displayed


P1080607I managed to resist buying anything

after all it was my first day

P1080614and in the cosmetic department

a giant  bowl of silk cocoons advertising a new face cream


May 16, 2016

P1090849we’re home

Mini feels like a seasoned traveler but she is happy to be headed home

after a 12 hour sleep

P1090852we’re ready to tackle the jungle – oops, garden

or perhaps just go back to bed!

good bye Japan

May 14, 2016

I wonder if/when I’ll be back – it has been a memorable three weeks

last night’s takoyaki party was quite a celebration

thanks Deko and Toshiko-san

today we visited the rose garden but it is hot

Mini decided it was cooler to stay home and brush up on her language skills

she even shed her sweater

the packing was almost finished

when Toshiko-San, the happiest neighbour I’ve ever met

arrived with a box of silk ends (this is all the suitcase would hold)

a beautiful kanoke silk scarf she made, a little bag brooch

a paper decoration – which will need some careful packing

and a photo album with all the pictures she took during our adventures together

it has been an amazing treat getting to know her

she is off to Italy at the end of the week

Teruko-san, another of Deko’s friends I first met ten years ago

came to visit this afternoon and brought a very special tea

I’ve been spoiled while here and will miss Japan

and all the special people

from the exhibition catalogue, “Shimura Fukumi”, a gift from Deko

tomorrow will be bitter sweet!


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