Saturday, August 14, 2010

Japan Pics 4 of ...: Asakusa Amuse Museum - Tsugaru Kogin Exhibition (Not Boro)


Near the entrance was the one piece we were allowed to touch. And this one was as stiff as it looks.
The camera could not focus on this one, but most of the surface is covered.
I tried to capture the B side.
Contrast and saturation modified so you can possibly get a better view of the B side.
I believe you've been looking at the B side of this piece.
My favorite, blue on blue. I can't remember if this one was faded, or the floodlight made this piece look thus. I suppose if it were dark, one could not see the work as well, but this was hard to capture.
Regarding the prevalence of the diamond shape, please see below. There were many, many more garments.

Looking back I find it a little disingenuous for the museum to have so many lovely cotton textiles, when Mr Tanaka repeatedly stressed in his book that linen was the predominant fiber and cotton arrived late and only to the wealthier parts. Furthermore, the name "boro" stipulates they are old and used, and I don't remember seeing many of those. I don't think the pieces in the exhibition constitute best examples of rag, work wear created and worn by farmers and fisherfolk. Mr Tanaka described in his book how many old folks, particularly women, gave him the best pieces that were saved for special occasions and were seldom/never worn. Most of these looked to belong to the latter category. And I've never seen quilts, as in flat, rectangular sheets, not garments or thick garments used as bedding at night, but this could be because my exposure to antique Japanese textiles is limited.

Amuse is not an academic, historical/anthropological museum, but a entertaining place with a textile focus, and one of the few places in Japan that allows photographing, so I won't hold any of these against them. Plus, I believe these cotton is easier to work on, ergo better show off the styles and the techniques of the makers, therefore make a better exhibition. Enough said.

ERRATA: I dug up additional flyers I picked up at Amuse in February. I apologize, as I should have done this before I posted.

Garments in these photos above are from the Tsugaru Sashiko Kimono Exhibition. In Aomori Prefecture, there are two styles of saashiko stitching, Tsugaru Kogin and Nambu Hishizashi. Here are some links:

Tsugaru Kogin vs Nambu Hishizashi page: top links shows Kogin motifs; bottom, Hishizashi.
Tsugaru Kogin official-looking website.
Image search results for Tsugaru Kogin stitching - not sure if all tags are accurate.
Image search results for Nambu Hishizashi stitching.

The things that got me so confused is that in their current special exhibition, they lumped both styles and calling them both "sashiko" (which is the name of the technique), which tells me the museum is targeting overseas visitors.

Larger versions of my pics are posted here. If you want any, please ask. Most are rather blurry and have been tampered with so you can see the stitching pattern.

The "Boro Exhibition", to be honest, I don't remember seeing six months on. It could have included the area I called "Permanent Collection" in the previous post. I'll try to post the photos from these flyers later today.

I do sincerely apologize for my confusion. Major blushing happening here.


  1. Nice article, Meg! The work is gorgeous!

    If you like boro, you must visit Sri's blog. Stephen, the owner, writes beautifully, has a lot of knowledge, and his photos are gorgeous. He's also a TAFA member:

  2. Congratulations! Fantastic article!

  3. Great article and photos. I've added your blog to my bloglist, as I'm sure my readers will be fascinated!


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