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Visit to Mori-san

Visit to Mori-san

Yesterday, on my first day back in Japan, I unexpectedly found myself in Yasu, about an hour from Kyoto. I visited the Mori family, who are one of the last families who do the traditional indigo dyeing process from start to finish: growing the indigo plants, composting the leaves to make the “tskumo” the dyestuff, and then dyeing both silk threads and washi paper.  His son is the 5th generation to continue this work.  It is always such an inspiration to see the great pride that Japan’s traditional artisans take in their work, the careful and precise process and the exquisite finished product.  The Mori’s have the honor of dyeing the washi paper used on the tearoom wall at Katsura Imperial Villa, and have done other special dye projects for the Imperial family.   Note the giant chyrsanthemum plants guarding the drying indigo...
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Knife Making in Takefu

Knife Making in Takefu

There are lots of places in Japan to see various artists and artisans, but one of the more unusual is Takefu – where you can go to a forgery where a wide variety of artists create knives.   These aren’t just regular dinner knives – but knives taken to a new level of mastery. Various artists work here, creating works of art with unique patterns created through special forging and polishing techniques.  To get there, you take a cab ride some miles out of town (from the train station).  You’re dropped off at a large, free-standing building in what seems like the middle of nowhere.   Upon entry, there’s an open area with displays of the history of some of the artisans and a wide variety of products on sale.   There’s a self-touring area where you can watch the various works in progress, from the steel creating to forging and polishing.  It’s got some great photo opportunities – here are a few samples.  The most interesting part about this is that, as with so many aspects of Japan, you will find a group of artists who are dedicated to their art and continuing it on to the next generation.  There’s a wall picture that depicts the various masters and their students – a profound way of sharing their pride in both craft and...