Sunday, March 1, 2015

Enjoying the "River Gallery"

Friday morning some members of my Friday group, met at Nakai train station, only four stops away from my home station, for a treat I have been missing for years!

I have to admit that I didn't know something this interesting was taking place in the sleepy little village nearby.

At "Some no Komichi" the whole town becomes a gallery for three days. The Myoshi River and Nakai shopping streets display dyeing works that have been passed down in this area since the Edo period.

Along with the main dyeing centers of Japan, in Kanazawa and Kyoto, Tokyo has also been favored with pure water from the Myoshoji River, essential for washing cloth.

Although the kimono business has been shrinking, the craftsmen have continued their business in this area and kept the traditional hand-dying techniques of Yuzen, Kata-zome, Edo-komon, Shibori, and others alive to today

We crossed the river many times and it was hard to resist taking just one more picture of the 'tan mono' rolls of cloth strung along the river.

These pieces will be cut and sewed into kimono.

As one walked the streets up and down along the river, the many small shops were a gallery of countless "noren", these hanging curtains used in doorways.

I understand that many homes rented out space for shops and displays.

I guess you could tell how popular the exhibit was by counting the shoes in front of the step.
A few of those in my group were wishing by the end that they had worn shoes a bit easier to step in and out of.

Though shops hang out noren to let customers know they are open, ordinary homes use these too to partition rooms where they can pass easily without doors ... kitchens and hallways for example.

Here is another very decorative noren in another style.....

and someone wrestling with their shoes for perhaps the tenth time in the morning....

There were exhibits of work and demonstrations of the various techniques used to decorate cloth.

There were even places where, for a price, one could try their hand at decorating the cloth in one manner or another.

This exhibition had items for sale and lovely examples hanging on the walls.

This hanging of a lotus plant had an explanation in English,

"The Lotus symbolizes the past, present, and future.
The past is the seed,
The present is the flower,
and the future is the bud.

The dragonfly is considered a valiant creature on the side of victory."

Maybe the people in charge of the exhibit should volunteer to help with the Tokyo Dome show to make it more international-friendly.
It was nice to be able to read the additional information.

This dyed piece with a young boy riding a carp was charming and colorful in itself but the English explanation may have been informative to those who are not familiar with symbols of "Boy's Day".

Before leaving at the end of the day, I paid a visit with two other group members to the Hayashi Fumiko Memorial Hall, where we enjoyed viewing the beautiful Japanese home and gardens of this famous writer and her painter husband.

Note the noren hanging just beyond the door to the garden gate.

This house also hosted an exhibit of shibori dyed cloth.

I particularly liked this indigo-dyed kimono.

We studied this pattern for quite some time trying to figure out how it had been done so perfectly.

The garden was large and peaceful with flowers beginning to celebrate the coming spring.

I told an elderly volunteer who was guiding people through the villa that I thought even I could become a writer, or perhaps a poet sitting in this beautiful place and looking at the wonderful garden.

He grabbed my shoulders and said, "Come here with me", and led me to a spot....

He had me bend down to the level of the table, saying this is the room where Hayashi-san wrote her books ... the table holds her writing tools and beyond is the garden ... not so quiet at that time because of visitors enjoying the garden paths.... but that zabuton does look very inviting.

As we made out way back through town to the train station ,,,

more colorful dyes fabric hung along the river.

These look to have been done by students of some school and one had children's hand prints along the strip in an assortment of bright colors along with the name of the school.

And ... along the other side of the river ...

Teruteru bozu ...

A figure that is hung in the hope that the weather the following day will be fair.

Often if the wish comes true, a face might be painted on the figure.

Yes, Saturday the weather was also fair.

I don't know if they reeled in those figures and hung new ones or not ...
But Today ... the final day of the festival began with rain that has become worse as the day progressed.
It was lucky for our group that we picked the best time for our visit and I could see all these interesting things right on my door step.


  1. What a fabulous festval, how hard everyone in that village must have worked, and with what wonderful results. I'm impressed that there was information in English, maybe the Some no komichi festival will become as well known as the Canadian quilt village festival of Ailsa Craig.

  2. Oh Julie, yet again thank you for such a wonderful trip, you explain everything so well and your photo's give so much detail that it is like I am there. Please keep giving us such great cultural experiences and details of life. I am going to try to take some good photos of St Patrick's Day with the parade in our small town. I think I will bring my camera with me to work one of the days next week to take some photos of Dublin City of places or buildings that are not normally seen by tourists. Again, thank you.

  3. What a fun day and how inspiring that must have been - such beautiful things to see! blessings, marlene

  4. Interesting. More customs that I'd never heard of before. I liked looking at all the hanging fabrics. Looks like a lovely area.

  5. Look at those fabrics above the water, the beautiful door hangings, this must have been a superbly wonderful day together for you all.

  6. What a lovely festival to visit - so much to see and enjoy. I really liked seeing the fabrics hung above the river. Thanks for taking us along with you.

  7. The cloths are beautiful and wonderful to be able to see them and the artists in the village.


  8. That looks like a great event in the middle of Tokyo. I never knew there is such town with history. I love those old house surviving so long. Great culture there.

  9. This looks like a fascinating way to spend a day. How lovely to be able to look around so many wonderful displays. Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures.

  10. Looks like a most interesting display! What fun.

  11. Looks as if you and your friends had a great fabric inspired day, did any fabric find its way to your house?

  12. I didn't know about this festival either. What a treat for you! It is so nice to have a whole community take part (sharing homes, displaying norens and decorating the river.

  13. What a lovely day you must have had. I always thought Japanese decor was fascinating and your photos bring to mind some tea houses I've seen here in the US. The dyed cloth must have been a highlight... that indigo kimono is gorgeous. It's so nice to seeing you having fun with your friends.

  14. Beautiful Julie!!! Thanks so much for sharing all of the photos!!!