Among the photographs I haven't shown you from my trip home in Jan/Feb this year are a few from Tokyo Asakusa Amuse Museum I mentioned recently. I checked my notes, and it turns out when Mom and I visited there, the Boro Exhibition was on. So here are some photos, from Boro as well as from their permanent collection. (Visit date was February 12, 2010.)
Exterior. Amuse is in a seedy part of Tokyo, which makes it a little exciting, and a little weird. I'll tell you more about it later.
The museum houses, among other things, a big collection of Ukiyoe prints. They are strewn all over the building, mostly in dark stairways and hallways, and all my photos came blurry. There is a short but very interesting video on how to read Ukiyoe prints. This one, I loved the fabric they used on the mat.
2-shaft, one-treadle "floor" looms where the cloth beam works much the same as backstrap looms were set up for rag weaving demonstration. Behind, you can see some pieces for sale.
A cute young staff demonstrating weaving. This young thing didn't have a clue what she was doing, and it was painful to observe. In addition, their costume is totally wrong in the context; this is a more modern, going-out outfit.
The woman on the right I would describe as team leader; she competently answered all questions, and suspecting Mom and I knew something about weaving, told us out out right all female staff were sent north to learn weaving and a few other things over the summer months in preparation for the museum's November 2009 opening. She gave us insights into the origins of this museum and the Tanaka collection.
The following are a few pieces from their permanent Tanaka collection; these were displayed in a most attractive way, but the rooms were very dark so you have to excuse my blurry photos. (I don't use flashes in public.)
Farmer or fisherman's outer garment made of grass and other natural fibers. I can't remember the ornate woven part at the top, but this region did not have access to cotton for a long time, so I assume it is linen.
Back-pack style bag. I cannot remember the fiber content of the textile remnants woven in the top half.
Bag or garment detail. Most probably cotton, because among other things, linen in this region was never dyed with Indigo.
Sashiko-embroidered cotton garment detail (?) This is possibly the only item I shot from the "Boro" exhibition, but don't quote me on it.
Special occasion outfit with a yarn-embroidered panel attached to a linen skirt, according to this blog.
Mr Tanaka helped collecting and ordering new garments for the eighth and last segment of Kurosawa Akira's 1990 films "Dreams". Reproduction of Kurosawa's image sketches for the costumes. This was the biggest find for me in the museum; I love the vibrancy of the drawings, and this last segment is about a funeral.
About the seediness; the museum also houses, for want of a better term, a cabaret on the top floor. From what we read, the young women who demonstrate weaving during the day "perform" and serve drinks at night. It's a uniquely Japanese mix of sublime and the ridiculous; Mom of course expected the worst and was quite worked up about it. I have no idea how interesting or bad it might be.
The museum is a Japanese textile-lover's heaven. Don't let me scare you off; but I'd rather you know.