Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another trip to Mashiko

I'm sleepy. I stayed up until 2:30 am chatting with my friend Chiyo-san. I normally go to bed at 9:00 so I am sorely lacking of sleep this morning. Wonder what time I'll crash tonight...

Chiyo-san and I have been friends for nearly 25 years. We were both newlyweds when we first met and because she'd spent a couple of years studying in California, her English was and is very good. As the years wore on our families grew but when Leiya and Chiyo-san's son were still babies her family was transferred to California and we only saw each other once a year in the summer.

It has always been interesting to get together and compare stories because I am the American living in Japan and she was the Japanese living in America and we have always had an empathy between us about reactions to cultural differences and misunderstood situations. This empathy is still going on and that is one reason we stayed up so late last night!


I picked Chiyo-san up at the station in the morning and we decided that instead of going straight home that we'd go to the neighboring pottery town of Mashiko. I wrote about visiting there last year when Leiya visited so you can look up the link if you're interested. On the way Chiyo-san and I chatted so much that I made a few wrong turns but it is a famous town and we eventually found our way. Mashiko is the perfect place for chattering ladies like us to visit. The little town has been beautified and has a very peaceful Japanese feel about it. The streets are lined with hand made mud kilns, and little shops some with pottery galleries, most with artistically arranged show windows. Tourists meander along the street and peruse the shop tables fingering and contemplating the rustic pottery. We didn't buy very much but we enjoyed the window shopping.





Besides the pottery shops there was also an indigo dying workshop and we both found that very interesting. A very old thatched roof building, dark with few windows and beneath the floor the indigo vats were hidden with just their openings showing. There must be a heating process involved in the dying because from around the room, steam wafted through the cracks in the floor. Skeins of thread were hung around, and out in the yard bolts of dyed fabric were stretched and hung on bamboo. Everything was too expensive but the fabric was oh-so-tempting!






I found all sorts of interesting textures and patterns during our stroll around Mashiko town.



Wood stacked along the street for burning in the kilns.




Old roof tiles laid upright along a path to make a non-slippery walkway.




Bundles of raw cotton waiting to be spun into thread and then indigo dyed.



Heavy paper cutouts used for the silk-screening process in dying.



Tea cups displayed in a shop.

You really should visit Mashiko if you ever come to Japan.

11 comments:

Pennie and David said...

Oh Wow... what beautiful and incredibly interesting photos, I love them. Thank you.

meggie said...

The more I see of things Japanese, the more I would love to visit.
I love the teasets, with the pots, & small handleless cups. The are a beauty to my eye, even though I don't drink any tea but herbal.

Amanda said...

What beautiful photographs, it sounds such an interesting and stimulating place to visit. I love the photograph of the tea cups displayed in the shop - the couple of empty compartments makes it so much more interesting to the eye.

Fran├žoise said...

Beautiful!
The indigo fabrics are gorgeous.

anne bebbington said...

Its on my list of places I must include in our round the world tour once the kids are off our hands - I wish! But who knows if you save hard enough :o)

Katie said...

What wonderful pictures!

Luna said...

That seems to be a interesting place!
Great pictures.
Love the things they do there!
Thank you for sharing. I think I´ll never come to Japan because I´m ( very)afraid of flying....but maybe

BUMBLE BEANS said...

Wow! what a great place to visit!! I want to come back to Japan soon. my daughter only wants to go so she can sit at the fish market in Tokyo and eat sushi all day... Maybe I can get her out of the city too... !! So many beautiful places....
;-)

Chi-Mi said...

We really had a wonderful time in Mashiko and we talked, talked, and talked. That was a fantastic memory. Thanks, Tanya.

Karen said...

I would love to shop in Mashiko! Such wonderful things.

BethanyQuilt said...

Thanks so much for letting us come along on your trip! The photos are so beautiful! In 1989 I went on an orchestra tour with my husband to Japan and your photos reminded me SO much of a pottery place we visited (I don't remember where) and I have a vase we brought home that I treasure. Thanks for "taking me back" to such a wonderful memory!