Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Japan Part IV: Food, Shopping, People Watching and Transportation

Food is an art form in Japan.  Not only is it delicious, it is always beautifully presented.  Many restaurants show off their food (or at least plastic models of it) in their windows.  Who wouldn't be lured in by the seductive display?
Some restaurants are a little less fancy.  But still have interesting storefronts:
This restaurant in Kyoto specializes in Takoyaki, a sort of fritter stuffed with octopus:
No wonder the octopus on the sign looks worried!
Traditional meals consist of small courses of very fresh proteins and vegetables, beautifully presented:
I have started a collection of small, beautiful plates, so that I can serve small bites of lovely food.  I love the idea of making our meals more artful.

Even shopping for food is an amazing visual experience.  We visited the Nishiki Market in Kyoto:
The market is a covered mall in the middle of downtown Kyoto.  It goes on for many blocks:
And is full of food vendors, selling both prepared food and items to be prepared at home:
Lots of pickles
Sushi
More pickled vegetables.  There were lots of pickle vendors
Pastries and desserts
Pickles.  We tried a sample -- they were delicious!
Squid
And or course matcha flavored items were everywhere.  My favorite was matcha ice cream.
Yum!
And I couldn't tell you how many gallons of green tea I drank.
People watching was a great deal of fun.  There was a cosplay event near the Tokyo Dome one evening:
It was frigid.  Record setting cold in Tokyo.  This poor girl must have been freezing:
The plaza at the Tokyo Dome was celebrating a "Garden of Lights."  It made for a stunning setting.
We saw many women (an a few men) dressed in Kimonos at the Shrines and Temples.  And a few on the street, such as this woman at the Nishiki Market:
This was taken at the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.  Even the statue is fashionably dressed:
The best place for people watching was the quilt show.  I think Barbara took this picture:
We went to a traditional dinner on the shores of the Kamo river in Kyoto.  A maiko (an apprentice geiko) danced for us.  And she told us about her life as a maiko.  She had left school at 15 to begin her training.  She is studying traditional music, traditional songs, dancing, calligraphy, the tea ceremony, literature and poetry.  When she finishes her training she will become a geiko, a traditional Japanese entertainer.
Natalie and I took a taxi one day to Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku.  We were lucky enough to see a master doll maker and calligrapher at work:
He was making emperor and empress doll sets, called Hina dolls.  The store had a display of sets for sale:
We also visited Tokyu Hands.  A very amazing store, and a must-see in Tokyo:
We shopped for fiber as well as food and souvenirs.  Natalie and I went to the most fabulous paper store in Kyoto.  I went a little crazy:
We visited the Nippori fabric district in Tokyo and shopped at Tomato.  It's a pretty amazing place if you like fabric - and I do happen to like fabric:
 I bought a few yards of Japanese fabric:
 
We rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, and then of course, back to Tokyo.  The five North Texas travelers had booked our flights to and from Tokyo.  The rest of the group flew into Tokyo but flew home from Osaka.  Which meant we had to get back to Tokyo on our own.  It was a bit of a challenge, but I love riding the Shinkansen:
Of course, train travel is much easier when you are traveling light, which of course we weren't.  Shinkansen don't stop at the station very long:
We managed to get both ourselves and the luggage on the train.  By moving very very quickly and shoving the suitcases in the door.

The trip itself was lovely.  I love the Japanese countryside, even when it is zipping by at 200 mph:
Snowy rice paddies between Kyoto and Tokyo
We did manage to miss our express train to Narita airport.  Instead we took a "local", which stopped several dozen times before the airport.  Luckily we had plenty of time!
It was a wonderful trip.  I want to go back.  Soon!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Salt Marsh Near First Encounter Beach is going to Paducah!


I learned yesterday that I'll be sending a quilt to the American Quilters' Society show in Paducah, Kentucky.  It's a big show, and I am very honored to be a semi-finalist.
The Salt Marsh Near First Encounter Beach (TF #29), © 2016


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Am I Blue?

Am I Blue? (Tuning Fork #46), 6"w x 8"h, © 2018

I just finished my SAQA Spotlight Auction donation quilt! It will be available during the silent auction at the SAQA Conference in San Antonio, Texas, in April. I'm always delighted to help support the organization that has given me so much help and support. 

Hooray!

Good news about 2 shows yesterday! "Mudcracks in the Canyon" was accepted for the Textiles exhibit, a SAQA Texas regional exhibit debuting at the Conference in San Antonio this April. And "Pods", "Tuning Fork #43" and "By the River" were juried into Escapades in Fiber, the Dallas Area Fiber Artists annual show. I'm honored to have been selected for these wonderful exhibits!
By the River, © 2017, 25"w x 23"h 
Mudcracks in the Canyon, ©2017, 32"w x 48"h
Pods, © 2017. 22"w x 17"h
Tuning Fork #43, © 2017, 12" x 12"

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Japan Part III - Museums

We had the opportunity to visit several museums in Tokyo and Kyoto during our visit.  The first was the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo.  It is housed in a lovely traditional building in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  
The museum was showing a special exhibit of the works of Shiko Munakata and Soetsu Yanagi.  Munakata was a wood block artist, active during the Showa Period in Japan.  The work on display was mostly created after WWII.  It was an interesting blend of elegant traditional Japanese painting and mid-century modern design.  No pictures were allowed in the museum, but I photographed the poster showing one of his wood blocks:
Yanagi is credited as the founder of the folk craft movement in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s.  He collected a great deal of folk art and was the founder of the Folk Craft museum in 1936.  And he mentored Munakata.

It is a lovely building in an interesting neighborhood.  Well worth a visit if you are in Tokyo.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was a visit to the Itchiku Kubota Museum on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi, in Kawaguchi-ko at the foot of Mount Fuji.  In 2009, I saw an exhibition called "Symphony of Light" at the Canton Museum of Art in Canton, Ohio.  It was an amazing exhibit -- thirty-six kimonos arranged in a circle depicting the changing of the seasons, together creating a subtly changing landscape from winter through spring, summer, autumn and back to winter.  The artist was Itchiku Kubota, who is best known for reviving the art of fabric dyeing called tsujigahana (literally "flowers at the crossroads").  The technique was common in the 15th century, but it was horribly difficult and it had been lost.

I was very excited to be able to see more of his work.  And I wasn't disappointed.

The museum had a fabulous of view of Mount Fuji across Lake Kawaguchi:
The signpost and front gate:
Our guide told us that Kubota designed the museum buildings.  They are very modern, but somehow fit in with the landscape.  Here is the path leading to the front door:
The main entrance to the museum:
The main building viewed from the exhibition hall:
I loved the tea room in the back of the exhibition building.  It was originally Kubota's studio, and now is a tea room with a delightful view of a water fall:
The kimonos on display were from his "Blossoms" series.  I was very excited -- I hadn't seen them before.  No pictures were allowed in the exhibition hall, so this is from the pamphlet:
The "Symphony of Light" will be shown at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York, this summer. Click here for more information.

In Kyoto, we visited the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, which according to its website showcases all 74 of the traditional Kyoto craft industries.  A very tall order!
It was a lovely day, and Natalie and I walked there after a workshop at the Kyoto Handicraft Center.  We were a bit late in the day, so we missed the demonstrations of shibori folding and kimono stitching, but we did get to see the exhibits.  And to shop in the extensive museum store.
In Kyoto we also visited the Nishijin Textile Center.  We walked through the small museum, watched  artisans demonstrating weaving, sewing and hand embroidery and browsed the (again) extensive gift shop. 
The highlight of a visit to the Textile Center is the Kimono Show.  It was pretty fabulous:
Coming Next:  Focus on food and culture.

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