TBZ goes to Japan: Golden Pavillion, Kimonos, Indigo, Shopping, and hands on Shibori

TBZ goes to Japan: Golden Pavillion, Kimonos, Indigo, Shopping, and hands on Shibori

We spent our last two days in Kyoto touring around various shops, a shrine, and a few hands on workshops. Take a look at some of the photos!

We went to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion at the foot of Kinugasa hill. The pavilion and the grounds have a long an interesting history including arson of the Buddhist temple in the 1950s. Even in the middle of winter without all of the leaves and flowers, it is beautiful with tons of opportunities for photos.






After leaving the Kinkakuji, we went to Aizenkobo Workshop. Aizenkobo Workshop is a Kyoto Indigo dyeing workshop owned and operated by third generation dyer Kenichi Utsuki and his wife Hisako Utsuki. It is located in a traditional Japanese home that is roughly 150 years old. We were invited in and Kenichi and his wife explained the process of growing and dyeing indigo.


Kenichi demonstrated that Indigo doesn’t burn by burning a sample of dyed cloth and showing us the indigo it left behind.


Indigo is believed to offer extra protection the wearer. They showed us a traditional fireman’s uniform and one one of the group’s members tried it on. The uniform is very old and as they explained, the hat is a rare antique and no longer producible.


My favorite piece was this one that was created using a resist method similar to a watercolor painting. It is very important to them that they use all natural materials, so the resist is not wax. I can’t for the life of me remember what it is though!


They also had some treasures from Kenichi’s father and grandfather. Some of these sample books are well over 100 years old and the textiles are as beautiful as if they are new.




He also unrolled this gem for my sashiko fans


The shop was full of clothing and yardage all made with the indigo dyed fabrics. Some were solid blue others used the Shibori tie dye method. I picked up a bag that was way pricey, but turns out to be one my favorite things to come home.

We then went to a tourist shop that features an hourly kimono show. The show was kind of meh, expect when the broke out a cover of Nirvana’s Teen Spirit using traditional Japanese style music. Did that really happen? Yes. Yes it did.


We finished the day at a shopping district that includes a store called Sou Sou. The store is broken up along several buildings through an old Kyoto street. They patterns are very modern and they do sell yardage as well. I did pick up some socks and an iphone cover for my kid. I found it to be a neat shopping experience.





The next day we started at Kyoto museum of Traditional Craft. They were having a special event that included several traditional craftsmen and opportunities to try some of the crafts ourselves. This fella hand paints tiny little family emblems. He had some simple ones on fans. We were able to select a fan and he added our names to it.



Another artist was making papercut pieces. He had a few that he had cut rabbits into. He had me write my name and he turned that into a paper cutting pattern and added it to one of the rabbits. It was fascinating to watch!



We had some time to sit down with this artist and try surigata-yuzen, stencil dyeing.


He was so kind to try to take my picture, but struggled with my iphone. I think he took about 50 pictures and they all had this little “extra” in them. Makes me smile.


Next we sat down with a ink painter that taught us the nuisance of adding gradients.



It took me a few tries, but I finally started to get the hang of it.


For our last big hurrah, we went to the Kyoto Shibori Workshop and Museum owned and operated by a third generation dyer.


My favorite thing in their shop by far was this kimono


It is astounding how many little circles were tied into this to make the pattern. Here is an extreme close up to give you an idea of just how intense this thing is.


We had the opportunity to try tying some shapes into a white cloth and take them apart after dyeing.


We’ve made it back to the good old USA and I’m still trying to kick the jet lag so I can make it to work tomorrow bight and shiny. It may be a bit of a challenge!


Want to see more from the trip? Check out this index of TBZ goes to Japan Posts!