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July 7, 2016

celebrating Tanabata

P1100111hanging my wishes out to blow in the wind

as I do each year on the 7th day of the 7th month

on this day of reflection join us for a tour of the

Amuse Museum in Tokyo

(click on any of the pictures to enlarge)


featuring the collection of Chuzaburo Tanaka

the fabrics now known as boro


this description is written

in the introduction of BORO: Rags and Tatters from the Far North of Japan

Only a few decades ago, Tohoku “snow country” – and especially Aomori Prefecture – was synonymous to most Japanese with dire poverty. Situated dead-end on the northernmost tip of the main island of Honshu, Aomori was home to dirt poor farmers who, out of desperate necessity, created an astonishing textile aesthetic out of boro – mere “rags”.


pants, so stiff with patches and stitching they still hold the shape of those who wore them

P1080927P1080926footwear and mittens, strengthened with closely stitched rows of running stitch



all the the dyeing and stitching techniques  were known and used long before they became  “trendy” in the Western world

P1080989of course – shibori

P1080980a patchwork of kasuri and indigo and sashiko

P1080986something I love – sakiori – rag weaving

P1080988several baste fibres were used – they grew in the north where cotton wouldn’t grow

here, a hemp shirt

P1080931each piece reveals the lives of the people

P1080932I hope you feel overwhelmed reading this

because that is how I felt viewing it

and I wanted to spend more time, with days in between, to absorb it all

there were pieces that almost brought me to tears

more in the next posting!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Judi Bushby permalink
    July 8, 2016 5:44 pm

    The Amuse boro display is magical. I have visited 3 times now and on each occasion I marvel at the pieces and delight in imagining the stories these pieces could tell. An awe inspiring place


  2. vdbolyard permalink
    July 8, 2016 8:51 am

    this is overwhelming, indeed. i can only think of appalachian folks who wore and wore and wore more their clothes. but still, not like this.


  3. July 8, 2016 3:32 am

    I’m always impressed with the human spirit when something done out of necessity is done with care and becomes beautiful in its own right. I knew nothing of the Japanese textiles you’ve written about with such reverence–and I’m so glad I’m beginning to learn!


  4. July 7, 2016 6:22 pm

    Amazing! So wonderful to see these textiles get the recognition they deserve!


    • July 7, 2016 6:38 pm

      textile ranger – a very impressive small museum with a marvelous collection to draw from – and they have signs saying you can touch – and a small area where you can try clothing on. highly recommend it to any textile enthusiasts if in Tokyo.


  5. July 7, 2016 3:40 pm

    How great to see these garments in person. The diapers especially break my heart every time.


    • July 7, 2016 5:02 pm

      Heather – me too! she must have been an amazing person, no wonder her son had the foresight to collect all those textiles that others didn’t recognize the beauty or value of.


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