Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Part Two - Boro, Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Amuse Museum
I found the Amuse Museum.  Interesting name for a very unusual museum.  There are multiple floors with stairs.  I mentally fortify my left knee.  The entrance fee to the exhibits upstairs is 1080 yen (about $10).

The very first piece I see at the top of the stairs in the exhibit is a large 3-D flowered piece.  Lots of fun with its collage work and popping-out flowers.

Yuukitsumugi pieced scarf in warp and weft kasuri.
This 2nd floor room is filled with Japanese kimono fabric that has been upcycled into clothing.  Everything is lovely and charming in this bright room.  I'm fascinated by the darkish pieced scarf as it looks like Yuukitsumugi, a type of warp and weft kasuri in minute patterns.  When I was a student in 1971-72, I studied at that weaving factory for two weeks.

Bag made from an obi.
A satin striped bag immediately catches my attention because of the stripes.  The attendant explains that it's made from an obi (the wide thick belt that is worn with a kimono).

Silk ori-nui scarf.
A brown and white silk scarf in ori-nui reminds me of the beautiful stitched and dyed pieces done by Susan Moran, who teaches at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit.

The basket of fish is a surprise and a delight.

Donza or night blanket padded kimono.
Next, is the special Boro exhibit.  These highly mended fabrics and clothing were used by the very poor in Japan, possibly from the 19th and early 20th century.  These are from a special collection assembled by Chuzaburo Tanaka.

Photographing was allowed and I think I took an image of almost everything in the exhibit so this will be a selected view of what was on display.

Boro means rags.  The garments were mostly huge kimono called "donza" or "donja" which was used as a night blanket to cover one or more people in the family, either thrown over a person or two sitting down at a low table or over a group of sleepers.  The saying was, "Use a donza that can stand up when thrown."  The donza are at least 6' tall or more and at least 5'-6' wide and packed with all kinds of materials, including crumpled paper.  These very utilitarian "garments" show the level of poverty that was experienced by these people in which food, shelter, warmth from the cold and adequate clothing were always inadequate.
Detail of a donza repaired and stitched.
Detail of donaz (or donja) with crumpled paper
stuffing under loosely woven fabric on right.

There were also mended tabi, the fabric sock/shoes with a division between the big toe and the other toes; shirts, work kimono that came to just the knee, and more.

Mended tabi, one-toed footwear.

Bodoko sheet for childbirth so that newborns will have the ancestral
protection and life force passed down through the generations.
A "bodoko" is made from layers of hemp and cotton scraps sewed down onto a worn hemp kimono base and used during childbirth so that the newborn might be blessed with the ancestral protection and life force passed down in the fabric from generation to generation.

Child's mended jacket
The exhibit went on into another room which displayed boro clothing that did not have the level of extreme mending and are covered with embroidery, and those pieces that are upcycled to contemporary pants, jackets, and kimono.  The title of this part was "Fashion without economic borders."

Tattsuke embroidered jacket of the Nambu region
of Aomori, Japan, the northern most area of the
main island of Honshu.

Embroidered and mended pants from the Nambu
district of Aomori Prefecture.  

Tattsuke embroidery in dark blue from Nambu district of Aomori

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