Located along the historic old Tōkaidō route, Nagoya is home to Arimatsu-Narumi, a neighborhood with over 400 years of history practicing traditional Japanese shibori and indigo dyeing.
Changes in recent decades including technological and industrial development, shifting consumer markets, and rising concerns about environmental impact and cultural identity have prompted artisans, producers, designers, and artists to reevaluate the way they practice and sustain their crafts. Workshops, presentations, and discussion panels with local and international luminaries focused on these globally relevant themes. Pop-up shops open for registrant participation showcased our creative variety and encouraged the interchange of ideas.
Out on the streets, we roamed the historic neighborhood of Arimatsu to view artisan demonstrations of traditional techniques, visit modern boutiques reinventing shibori goods for the 21st century, and learn from this incredibly innovative community.
In the wider Nagoya area, we conducted bus tours visiting symposium exhibitions including displays of rare arashi-shibori at the Nagoya City Museum, 1400 year-old textile fragments from Tang Dynasty China at the Furukawa Art Museum, and a special exhibition of Hiroko Andō’s regional folk shibori collection from Kyūshū and Tōhoku at Honmaru Palace in Nagoya Castle.
The modern capital of Japan, Tōkyō's dense cosmopolitan metropolis fosters technological innovation and hosts some of the country's top fashion designers and contemporary artists.
We gathered at the museum of one of Japan’s leading art universities to celebrate international creativity in resist dyeing, dimensional transformation, and hand processes. We viewed a dynamic exhibition of international contemporary shibori and inspired works at the Tama Art University Museum and connected with artists, designers, educators, and scholars.
We took advantage of your time in the capital to visit the flagship stores of world-famous designers including Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, or Rei Kawakubo; stopped in at the Nuno store founded by Junichi Arai and succeeded by Reiko Sudo; and enjoyed a few of its myriad museums, including the permanent Boro exhibition at the Amuse Museum, the Japan Folk Art Museum, the Mori Museum, Design Sight 21:21, the National Art Center, Tokyo National Museum, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. Shopping for fabric in Tokyo was a quilters’ and clothing designers’ dream at stores like Nippori Textile Town, Yuzawaya, or Okadaya.
Yonezawa & Yamagata
Situated in the northeastern Tōhoku region famed for its folk traditions and natural beauty, Yonezawa and Yamagata boasts fields of beni-bana safflower ready for a summer harvest.
We learned the history and applications of this precious red and pink dyestuff firsthand in the heartland of the Japanese safflower industry. We joined Dr. Kazuki Yamazaki at the Tohoku University of Art and Design for an early-morning workshop picking safflower grown as a part of their field-to-fiber student program and learned how to process the harvest into beni-mochi dye patties.
We explored several other enduring folk traditions through workshops at various family studios around quaint rural Yonezawa, including Harakata sashiko stitching; tattered and mended indigo-dyed boro textiles; production of bast fibers such as wisteria, nettle, and hemp; production of shifu paper yarn; natural dyeing; and silk tsumugi spinning and weaving. In addition, we savored two nights at authentic Japanese traditional inns built over Yonezawa's famous hot springs.
Day trips to Tsuruoka, Shirataka, and surrounding cities rounded out the region’s historical and cultural context from traditional to modern, with excursions to see masterworks of traditional regional sashiko, a unique oriental carpet company, a contemporary knitwear company, dyeing and weaving production houses, and more.