JAPAN 2013

Kyoto - Fujino - Tokyo

Our 2013 trip started in iconic Kyoto, where in addition to seeing the city's extraordinary sights, we attended Miyako Odori, the annual spring performance by geisha and maiko from Kyoto's Gion district. We were enthralled by the music and dance performances as well as the costumes and set design. We enjoyed visiting the atelier and shop of a master indigo dyer and also visited a young designer working with Kyoto-based artisans and factories to reinvent traditional Japanese home-wares and accessories. We also loved shopping for vintage textiles as well as products from contemporary Kyoto designers. 

The second part of our trip took place in a beautiful village outside Tokyo where we stayed in a rustic 150-year-old silk-farming house and learned the fundamentals of indigo dyeing from our host and teacher, an expat who has lived in Japan for over two decades and is an expert in Japanese textile crafts. He gave us a fascinating, hands-on introduction to shibori and katazome dyeing and we were excited to bring home some completed projects. Our stay was also enriched by meaningful cultural experiences. We enjoyed delicious home-cooked Japanese meals in addition to eating at local restaurants that were full of character. We participated in local Children's Day festivities; had fun trying on old kimono and yukata from a personal collection; hiked and collected forest foliage for an ikebana lesson, met a local ceramicist and basket-weaver; saw udon noodles being made from scratch; and delighted at seeing wild monkeys outside the farmhouse!

Tokyo offered a mix of old and new Japan and we enjoyed getting to know the city from our base in Shibuya. Highlights included visiting a century-old kimono fabric dyeing workshop; shopping in Aoyama, Daikanyama and Azabu-Juban for contemporay and vintage Japanese design; seeing a special exhibition of Ainu textiles at The Folk Crafts Museum; enjoying the beautiful gardens and exhibits at the Nezu Museum; weaving a scarf at a yarn shop in the lovely neighborhood of Kichijoji; meeting the creative director of NUNO and learning about their innovative textile-making techniques; seeing an exhibition of crafts from all over Japan at d47 Museum; taking a day-trip to visit textile artist Chiaki Maki, who is renowned for weaving with tassar silk; visiting the famous Tsukiji fish markets;  attending the entertaining Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan; and participating in a private cooking class and market tour.

Jessica did a great job researching, organizing and executing a truly remarkable experience for all of us. It was meaningful in so many ways and getting to spend time with locals was the best!
— JM Jones