We've got several events coming up over the next month and I'd like to take a quick moment to tell you a little more about them. :)
First up is the Pensacola FL BonFest on 9/9. This event is organized by the Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida and Florida Okinawa Kenjinkai. There will be food, Bon odori(dances), games, local vendors, and a whole lot of fun for all age groups. And also excellent taiko music performed by Matsuriza Taiko!
Next is JapanFest Atlanta on 9/16-9/17. Put on annually in Duluth GA by the Japan-America Society of Georgia, this will be the festival's 31st year. Over the weekend it will draw crowds of over 30,000 people so it's best to be early to avoid the rush. Inside you'll find food stalls, traditional Japanese artisans, craft and martial arts demonstrations, Japanese dance and performance arts, beautiful music, and many unique vendors.
The following weekend, we'll be at the Memphis Japan Festival on 9/24. In addition to food, music and vendors, there will also be kamishibai paper theater for the kids. As well as lectures on the Japanese tea ceremony, kimono, bonsai, origami and the game of go. So many awesome things to experience all in one day!
Check out our calendar of events for more details including event locations and times. We hope to see see you soon!
The traditional textile and kimono industries have seen such an alarming decrease in sales over the last few decades that talk of them dying out has become a subject that I think I should probably discuss at some point here. But many other people have already written very good articles on the subject, so if you get the chance you should take a look at those too. I'd like the focus of this entry to be on ways consumers can help keep these industries alive. For some dressing in kimono has become like second nature, but I realize that for the majority, this is not going to be a realistic possibility. However, with Japan's dwindling population and the lack of interest the country's citizens have in kimono, I think it's going to take a global scale effort to help it's time honored textiles continue.
The traditional way of wearing kimono probably seems like a lot of work and hassle to a public for whom wearing jeans and t-shirts has become the daily norm (and I include myself in that group, since this is what I wear a lot of the time). Convenience has become king. But, there are lots of ways becoming available that we can incorporate parts of these old-fashioned items into our daily lives.
Japanese textile industries are working hard to modernize and coming up with innovative new products that make use of traditional methods. For example there are a style of Converse All Stars made from Nishijin-ori weave textile, traditionally used to make obi. Or how about a wedding dress made with fabric that is usually reserved for kimono? There are even some really cute gamaguchi wallets made of Bizen woven cotton or Ise cotton. The list goes on and on.
In addition to these modern items, second hand textiles when worn as accessories or used to create something new, can help draw the attention of other industries to the beauty and timelessness of these designs and help create an even greater and growing market for traditional artisans.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. How do you think we could make a lasting positive impact on these industries? Have you ever bought a vintage item with the intent of giving it a glorious new purpose? Or a product of modern design using the old techniques?
On February 8th (specifically in the Kanto region, and December 8th in the Kansai region) the Japanese celebrate a 400+ year old festival known as Hari Kuyo (Festival of Broken Needles). Traditionally a holiday geared towards women, kimono tailors and sewing hobbyists alike take their old needles to local Buddhist temples to put them "to rest" cradled on soft beds of tofu. This is done to thank them for their good service in the past year and also for sharing in their owner's personal burdens and sorrows. At this time prayers are also offered for an improvement in sewing capabilities. In addition to reflecting the traditional Japanese beliefs in animism (that all objects have souls), I think this practice also embodies the Japanese concept of mottainai (regret of wastefulness). And on that note, when we wear and use second hand kimono, I think that it's a very similar kind of action. When I wear a vintage kimono with my grandmother's pill hat and purse, I get a deep feeling of happiness in knowing that something that has brought someone else joy to wear over the years, can now bring me delight as well and still have use.
On February 3rd the Japanese celebrate a holiday called Setsubun. This is the time when Oni(demons) carrying bad luck from the previous year are banished from homes by throwing dried soybeans out the door and shouting "Oni wa soto, Fuku wa Uchi!"(Throw the ogres out, bring good fortune in). At local Shinto shrines the beans are thrown out over large crowds and it is considered lucky to catch the same number as your age. A traditional food commonly eaten on this day is Ehou maki(a type of thick vegetable roll).