Back with more indigo tie-dyed goodness!
Some who commented on the last post mentioned surprise at finding such stunning tie-dyes. Agreed! When I first came to Japan the mention of "tie-dye" was certain to induce a technicolor flashback of dancing bears sliding down a rainbow into some Deadhead's back pocket filled with... anyway, that all changed when I was introduced to Arimatsu Shibori. There are other types of shibori, by the way, and from what I've seen, they are all very special, but ARIMATSU claims top honors with me. Hometown color, dig?
THE BLUE. THIS BLUE. I LOVE IT VERY MUCH.
The irregularities in the very regulated patterns
The way these colors age is an inspiration to all things that age
This time around I got to see some of the shibori masters at work. About six women were set up in an open store-front, on display, each busy tying off different shibori designs. It was crowded with Lookee-Lous and neighborhood folk stopping by to chat with the Flying Fingers.
These women sit seiza, legs folded under and feet beneath the butt, on a thin cushion, in front of a wooden stand that holds the 33 cm wide cloth.
Some of the stands have attachments that serve as forms to shape the ties. The cloth is marked with a master pattern of dots, they've been stenciled on as guides for the repeating pattern, or in some more elaborate cases, an entire picture that will come to life once its assembled as a kimono.
The women were all sporting various types of shibori gear as they worked and the oldest woman was by far the fastest.
When the roll is completely tied off, prior to dyeing, they resemble mop heads.
The shibori museum (yes!) has rolls hanging in a showcase that have been completed in stages, so we can see, in linear fashion how it all proceeds.
Plain white cotton is tied, dyed and then untied.
I'd love to be in on the untying and opening! From this indigo rope comes this?!
They've been tying these designs for over 400 years!
Each roll takes between four and ten months to create!
No wonder the real deal is SO expensive. And like many traditional arts/crafts around the world, in danger of disappearing.
So we celebrate and pay respect.
Sing old-time songs
No festival is complete without beer and street food. In my case, tama-sen, a griddle-fried egg sandwiched between a big shrimp cracker, drizzled with a little Japanese brown sauce. Tasty!
Just be sure to wipe your hands before heading back into the fabric zone, no one wants sauce on their yukata!
Yukata are symbols of summer.
Blowing in the breeze they seem so airy and cool
The reality of actually wearing one, however, is not so cool.
While blue rules, there are other colors of shibori.
Purple is another favorite of mine. Check this blog's banner for a close-up of really tiny purple shiboris.
I always enjoy seeing other festival-goers sporting shibori or related gear.
Check the shibori umbrella
It ain't all yukata and handkerchiefs.
Since the Edo era, handkerchiefs and towels have been standard Arimatsu souvenirs. It's all most folks could afford. During the festival there is an excess of inexpensive goodies available, hand towels, table runners, pouches, totebags, Japanese split curtains, t-shirts... and in the interest of full disclosure, a number of these items are, like many others in the world, Made In China.
Clothes favored by grandmas.
Tailored blouses made in Nagoya
There's a lot of remnants available, many ends of yukata rolls, so they are very narrow. Typical garment sized lengths are not abundant, still, I found a couple lengths
Yes, people, this is the WHAT I SCORED PORTION. The piece on the left is 100% cotton, very light and crinkly. You can still see the tiny holes from the shibori threads. I haven't decided what it's destined for, there's about 1.5 meters but it's a bit narrow.
The second piece is 2 meters of 51/49 silk/cotton that drapes well and screams summer to me. Skirt? Aloha style shirt? Ideas? This one actually had a tiny flaw so it was quite cheap, about ten bucks.
It was hot, my neck was frying in the sun so I HAD to buy a cotton tenugui to tie around my neck.
And because I'm not only a sucker for indigo blue, but also red and black, this very inexpensive soft, cotton gauze handkerchief came home with me.
Whew. On the train ride home, an older woman and I chatted about our finds and the excellence of shibori. All was well.
For more shibori info, please check out the Shibori Museum website they have a decent English section.