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Archives for March, 2011

Some Thoughts on Kyoto Right Now

March 31, 2011

If you have planned your long-awaited, trip-of-a-lifetime visit to Kyoto, please consider some things.
Kyoto and its environs, ten or so hours by car from the Fukushima disaster, are apparently a very safe distance from the nuclear reactors and the poisons being released.

I’m bringing this up as I’ve just been there and I felt very safe, even during the well-deserved hysteria surrounding what is arguably the worst natural and man-made disaster in human memory.It would be such a shame if you are planning to go to the Kansai region, home to Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Osaka, etc., and decide not to go based on these current events.

Kansai remains stable–keep checking the news, however–and the magic, beauty, grace and historical power of Kyoto is something that will enrich your mind and imagination for the duration of your life.And the Japanese, who are famous for their hospitality, now more than ever will welcome you wholeheartedly.  You can imagine that tourism is down in Japan, and your travel in Japan’s western region will be greatly appreciated by the residents of Kansai.

The presence of tourists at this time of year–it’s cherry blossom time–will not only help with the coffers of merchants, but, maybe more importantly,  it will also convey a sense of normalcy, a well-needed balm for everyone’s mind right now.  Of course, do keep checking news reports to see if there are any bans of food products or to see if there are some drastic turn-of-events that will effect Kyoto, although this is highly unlikely-to-impossible.

And for yet another view on the toxins being released from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, have a listen to David Brenner, Director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, here. His take on things may ease your mind a bit, and provide some well-needed facts on this topic right now.

I just felt I had to say this.  If you are planning your dream trip to Kyoto, or if you’re longing to return,  go.

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A Complex Chogakpo Pojagi: Delicacy in Cloth from Korea

March 30, 2011

As you probably have picked up from some previous postings, I love Korean pojagi, traditional wrapping cloths that are hand stitched from scraps of ramie or moshi cloth.  Today I am showing one of the favorite pieces in my collection.
At first glance this chogak po style pojagi, or one made of scraps, is deceptively simple in design, with its seemingly regular vertical stacks of diagonally-sliced blocks.  But keep looking.Notice how the stacked blocks become compressed at a certain point and then give way; how long, leaning diagonals cut through the blocks, providing a kind of counter-rhythm to the “melody,” as it were. Whoever stitched this pojagi had magnificent skill and deft fingers: some of the pieces of ramie cloth are so small that it’s a wonder that they didn’t simply unravel in her hands.

This probably dates to the middle swath of the twentieth century.   It measures 29″ x 28″ or 73.5 cm x 71 cm.  And it’s beautiful.And a quick update on the new webshop: we’re behind schedule, but hopeful for an unveiling within the next ten days.

THANK YOU for your patience and for visiting this blog, and please don’t give up yet: the shop will be up soon, and it will be showing some of the new finds from Japan, which I’m getting organized as I type this.

If you’d like to sign up for our weekly email announcing new items added to the shop, please send me an email: [email protected]


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