May 24, 2011

Chusen-zome Tenugui

Tenugui at our shop is hand-dyed by Chusen-Zome technique. Chusen means to pour dyeing material onto cloth and Zome means to dye.

This tenugui factory is run by a family called Nakagawa-san and is located in Utsunomiya city approximately 100km north of Tokyo. The factory lasting for over 100 years is not so modern or neat, but the family is keeping the spirits of hand-dyeing tenugui.

This snapshot shows an old lady at the factory pouring dyeing material onto tenugui.
We drove a car to the factory to take photos.

This is another snapshot of an old man preparing for dyeing cloth.

All tenugui is hand-dyed and produced one-by-one. The design of tenugui has a stock from ancient Ukiyo-e pictures to contemporary style. The tenugui has a variety of usage such as home decor, head towel, hotel towel,  handkerchief, dust cover and more. What is good about tenugui is that it so thin that it dries very quickly.

Ukiyo-e design tenugui
Thank you,
- Ken

May 17, 2011

Roketsu-Zome (batik)

Hello and Welcome to,

Noren curtains at our shop are dyed by the technique called Roketsu-Zome (meaning batik). This Noren craftsman has been keeping Roketsu-Zome sprits since 1963 when he opened up his own Noren studio.  He is one of the few craftsmen who hold this technique in Japan.

The Roketsu-Zome is a wax resist textile dyeing technique and needs over 20 steps before completion. The craftsman and his apprentice (son) produce the Noren curtains one by one, by going through all the steps. They are proud of the technique and producing excellent goods. The beauty of cracks of batik is excellent.

They allowed me to take photos inside the dyeing factory in Kyoto. Actually the factory is not very large and does not look so clean, but I felt lots of traditional spirits for producing excellent products. These factories are fading away in Japan and are replaced by modern ones, but what we need to keep in mind is that we cannot get it back when it is faded away.

Kanbayashi-san keeping Roketsu-Zome spirits
  Thank you,
- Ken

May 11, 2011

Slide show updated

Hello and Welcome to,

We have updated the slide show on the top page of our website to match the spring to early summer season. These pictures are taken at Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Yamanashi. Please enjoy the virtual tour.

From the slide show, I introduce the tour cart today. In the past, these types of carts were prevalent in Japan and many people used as transportation within a city. However, these carts are utilized only as tourism nowadays.

This tour cart (driven by a young man) is called  "Jinriki-sha".  This cart will take you around Kyoto with the charge of 2,000 yen per 10 minutes (approximately 1km ) per person.

When you have a ride, it looks like this phot from the passenger seat.

You can find these tour carts at various places in Kyoto and they are waiting for you just like taxi. This company has a branches in Kamakura and Asakusa (Tokyo).

Thank you,
- Ken

May 5, 2011

May 5th Boys Day

Hello and Welcome to,

Let me introduce Boys' Day.
Today is Boys' Day in Japan and a holiday for wishing boys' healthy growth and promotion in future.
The families who have sons celebrate this day by displaying such dolls (armor) as shown in the photo at home.

Armor for wishing Boys Day

Besides displaying a doll, it is Japan's custom to eat rice cakes called Kashiwa-mochi (柏餅) on Boys Day. This rice cake bean jam inside is wrapped by oak's leaf. The oak leaves will not fall down until new ones come out, so it has been considered as a symbol of family's continuing prosperity.

Kashiwa-mochi rice cakes, typically 1,5 USD or 1,0 Euro per piece

Outside of home, it is Japan's old custom to display cotton-made or nylon-made carps on Boys Day, because carps are the symbol of strength and promotion in society.

Photo taken at Yamanashi Prefecture

Thank you,
- Ken, President

May 4, 2011

Flying Carps

Hello and Welcome to,

May 5th is Boys' Day in Japan, wishing boys' promotion in  future. As Boys' Day is drawing near, families who have boys and communities are setting up "flying carps" (Koinobori) as a celebration and custom. Carps  are the symbol of strength and promotion in Japan. In this season, you can see lots of carps decoration outside of houses.

I took the above photo in Hokuto-city in Yamanashi prefecture, 100 miles west of Tokyo. Officially, it is announced that the city set up 450 carps bundled in wires for Boys' Day celebration. These carps are made of nylon. They look as if swimming in the sky as winds blow.

How to get there: Drive through Chuo-do highway from Tokyo and get off the highway at Sudama interchange. Drive along route 141 up north about 20 minutes to find Mimani-Kiyosato drivers' station. This is where I took the photos.

Thank you,
- Ken, President