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Miyama and Hiroyuki Shindo

June 14, 2016

how do you describe an enchanted place?

a magical, mystical village

surrounded by thickly forested mountains

seen through a quiet, gentle rain with mist raising out of the trees

it seems like a lost land

P1090607Miyama is actually several small villages scattered in a narrow valley

P1090615located in a remote rural area only 30 kilometres north of Kyoto

 accessible only by car or bus

it is famous for traditional thatched roof farmhouses


we went to Kayabuki no Sato, the most northern village

to see the Little Indigo Museum

the home and workshop of internationally famous indigo dyer

Hiroyuki Shindo

P1090620a similar picture of the entrance and another in the snow, is in

Amy Sylvester Katoh’s book Japan Country Living

Shindo san is charming, generous with his knowledge

with a quiet humility found in many accomplished Japanese craftspeople

P1090621his praise of my hanten was delightful

here is his vat to make ash water P1090625he wanted to impress on me the need to maintain a high pH in the indigo vat

P1090624and, of course, the vats

P1090622I kept thinking how cold it would be to work in the winter with single pane glass

and paper thin walls

he keeps a fire burning between the vats to keep them warm in the winter

but didn’t say how he kept warm!

P1090628explaining his invention for creating the type of shibori pleating he is famous for

I was totally amazed and grateful for the time he spent with us

P1090626one small display of his work

and then upstairs to the museum, with the heavy roof beams and straw over your head

P1090630next post – the museum

16 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2016 2:40 am

    Oh, how wonderful for you to meet an icon and for him to acknowledge your beautiful work! Your photos capture the magic of that area.


  2. June 16, 2016 1:55 am

    What a wonderful place, magical indeed. You have enjoyed such special experiences on this trip (and thank you for sharing them), I’m sure the time and welcome you receive from people like Shindo-san is reciprocated by what you give.


  3. June 14, 2016 8:28 pm

    I remember Shindo-san’s work at the (sadly defunct) Canadian Craft Museum back when I volunteered there many years ago. Lovely ombré fabrics and big indigo balls. Amazing. I’m so glad he praised your lovely hanten. You deserve it!


    • June 14, 2016 9:15 pm

      Louisa – thank you, I’ve been a fan of his forever, never expected to actually meet him let alone spend time in his workshop. I was like a 17 year old with a rock star – never done that either! And he remembered and mentioned the Canadian Craft Museum (and I miss it too).


  4. jilloy permalink
    June 14, 2016 6:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing this Jean. I hope to get there some day.Do you have to book in advance?


    • June 14, 2016 8:01 pm

      Jilloy – I’m happy to share but not sure what you are thinking of booking?? I was staying with a Japanese friend and we drove from Osaka to Miyama and back the same day. There are a couple guest houses in the village and you would have to book them.


      • jilloy permalink
        June 16, 2016 5:16 pm

        I was just thinking that you might need to telephone Shindo san in advance?? (reflecting on Bryan Whiteheads post on ‘How Do You Visit a Studio Fairly?’)
        I have Japanese friends in Osaka and Nara so I would not need to stay overnight (although that would be lovely!). Thanks again. Jill


      • June 16, 2016 5:53 pm

        Jill – the museum is open to the public, I’ll post pictures of it – (amazing indigo work from around the world) we didn’t know that he would be there or available.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. June 14, 2016 5:09 pm

    Wow, what a treat to spend time with Hiroyuki Shindo! Love those misty trees…I’m in love with moisture these days…the desert is aching for rain.


    • June 14, 2016 5:16 pm

      Kristin – it was an amazing day. A 3 hour drive to get there and all the way we were praying for sun but the mist was actually beautiful and most of the time we were the only people there – no tourists!


  6. trl710 permalink
    June 14, 2016 12:57 pm

    It’s a wonderful place and he is so generous with his time. I loved my visit there.


  7. June 14, 2016 11:51 am

    WonderfuI place! I visited 4 years ago in April. It was snowing. Great memories.
    Your hanten is beautiful.


    • June 14, 2016 12:33 pm

      Francoise – thank you, I tried to imagine it in the snow, it could be very isolated in the middle of winter.


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