Sunday, 10 August 2008
Memories of Japan
The walls of the kitchen / dining area have finally been painted, so I'm going through the process of working out what's going back up on the walls, what is being added, and what is going to be put away.
One of the pieces that's definitely going back up is this quilt which I made after my trip to Japan about 10 years ago to visit my son while he was living there. It holds memories of the time I spent with him in Matsue, a fairly small town on the west coast, where he was teaching English in a junior high school and I spent days exploring the town and the outskirts of it. I caused a minor sensation almost everywhere I went, as a middleaged non-Japanese woman whizzing along on the bike he had borrowed for me! I loved exploring the local shops and this quilt contains some of my finds - the traditional indigo fabrics, the fish motifs and the samurai helmet motif all made from fabric. The kimono are a reminder of the night spent at his supervisor's house where we were treated to a wonderful traditional dinner. The supervisor's wife explained to me that she was currently training to be a "dresser" at weddings. The traditional wedding kimonos consist of a number of layers, which all need to sit "just right" on the body, and the tying of the obi is an art in itself. She suggested that she could dress me in some kimonos, so that she could practise and we could get some photos. It resulted in quite a bit of hilarity - and some photos of me looking extremely fat - as we put the kimonos on over the clothes I was already wearing!
Torben (my son) and I then spent two weeks backpacking, travelling by a mix of bullet train and local transport, and staying in ryokan (the Japanese equivalents of B&Bs). So the quilt contains new and secondhand fabrics (silks and cottons) found in places such as Kyoto, Nagasaki and Hagi. It was springtime, and the cherry blossom was at its height, especially in Kyoto where an afternoon spent following the Philosopher's Path beside the canal and under the blossoming trees is a vivid and favourite memory.
This quilt has used only a fraction of the fabrics I found - it's amazing how much can be stuffed into a backpack that already looks full to bursting! One day I'll use some more of it...