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Archives for March, 2012

Mamezen: Original Ramen in Kyoto

March 31, 2012

American friends brought Mamezen to my attention: it’s a small restaurant in Kyoto which specializes in ramen served in a soy milk-based broth.  This type of ramen is Mamezen’s own creation and it’s delicious.  I found this out firsthand yesterday when I lunched at this lovely out-of-the-way restaurant located in the city’s Shimogamo neighborhood.Kyotofoodie wrote a very comprehensive and informative blog posting on Mamezen, which you can see here.And as you can see from the “before” and “after” shots, above, I mean what I say when I say the soy milk based ramen broth was yummy.  I ordered the “omakase” lunch set which serves a bowl of ramen, pickles and yuba donburi rice bowl.Above is the chef and owner of Mamezan, Minoru Yonegawa, seen below with his wife, Mitsue, who works alongside her husband at the restaurant.An English language menu is available, and if you are in Kyoto, especially if you are in the Shimogamo area, you may want to stop by for a delicious–and healthy–bowl of ramen in a rich, yuba-based soy broth. And of course I couldn’t help but snap a photo of the beautifully repaired shoji, above.

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Shikama Fine Arts: A Treasure Box in the Middle of Kyoto

March 29, 2012

I’ve written about Shikama Fine Arts on this blog before, but I’m compelled to do it again: each time I visit I am impressed by Nao Shikama’s exquisite selection of antique objects and his rich knowledge of the pieces he so carefully presents.Shikama Fine Arts is located in the heart of Kyoto and is easy to find.  It’s open Thursdays through Sundays, 12 – 6 PM.   Shikama san is fluent in Japanese and English so don’t hesitate to stop by and explore–and be prepared to be drawn in to this beautifully curated world of wondrous things.  

There is always an extremely intelligent and curious mix of Japanese and European antique objects and ceramics on view–and make a point to ask questions about items that intrigue you. 

If you’re in Kyoto here’s one way to find Shikama Fine Arts: enter Teramachi dori at Oike dori, and walk south into the arcade.  One “block” down from Oike dori, take a right (the famous paper and incense shop Kyukyodo is on this corner) and continue straight for 3 blocks.  Shikama Fine Arts is on the south side of the street (and right around the corner from the famous Tawaraya ryokan.)

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Some Images from Japan

March 28, 2012

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March 26, 2012

They’re blooming  here now–and they’re gorgeous.   When the bloom is done, it doesn’t drop its petals and wither away: the entire bloom falls off and drops to the ground intact.   For this reason, apparently, samurai didn’t care for camellias, if you get the picture.*

*think samurai swords, head chopping, and other gory, martial stuff….

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Japan is Beautiful

March 25, 2012

Although we don’t need reminding that Japan is beautiful, Amy Katoh has a way of constantly renewing our appreciation of the beauty of Japan.Rather suddenly, Amy announced that for a period of three weeks she is showing a segment of her marvelous collection of Japanese folk textiles in a still-occupied warehouse in her Tokyo neighborhood.  The backdrop of the warehouse’s unfinished, dark wood interior is a dramatic and inspired foil for her beautifully chosen collection.  Have a look.

If you are in Tokyo, or are visiting soon, here’s all the information you’ll need to make a visit and see this fleeting exhibition for yourself:

Thank you, Amy.  I’m so glad you did this.  It’s beautiful.

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A Visit to Gallery Kei in Kyoto

March 23, 2012

Each time I visit Kyoto I schedule a lot of time at Gallery Kei.  Kei Kawasaki’s gallery, located in the heart of the city, is rich in beautiful Japanese country textiles–and Kei and I had the pleasure of mounting a joint exhibition, “Mottainai: The Fabric of Life” at the Portland Japanese Garden last November.Kei’s aesthetic guides her to collect rural cloth which show the warmth of human wear.  At Gallery Kei there is a wide breadth of hand made Japanese cloth, and her special interest in in bast fiber weaving, or cloth made from hemp, ramie, linden, wisteria, paper mulberry, banana stem fiber, elm an the like.Above is woven bast fiber cloth dyed in benibana or safflower.I’ll be in Japan for about one more week and I’m hoping to continue some good conversation with Kei during his time, and discuss our mutual passion for Japanese rural textiles.

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Images from Japan: Yesterday’s Excursion

March 20, 2012

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March 18, 2012

Yesterday was my first full day in Japan, and it was my first attempt at finding some interesting textiles: by chance I found some really wonderful things which I hope will find their way to the webshop upon my return.   The ever-so-slightly stronger dollar has made a significant difference in allowing me a wider range of items to buy.And there are still a fair number of flowering plum trees.  Their bright, sharp colors contrasted against the backdrop of a drab wintry landscape is just gorgeous.And these wacky and wonderful murals seem to be abundant in small towns in Japan, where I was yesterday and where I snapped this.  They are often painted by school children as a “municipal” project, but this one has to do with a grocery store.You can’t not smile when you see something this cute and weird.

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Going to Japan

March 15, 2012

Leaving for a shopping trip today for about two weeks.  I’ll skip a webshop update while I’m gone (21 March), but I’ll update again from Japan on 28 March.  I’ll be blogging from the road, and also adding to Sri Thread’s Facebook page, hopefully quite frequently.  Let’s hope some interesting textiles cross my path!

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A Patched Cotton Shibori Han Juban

March 12, 2012

I’ve had this indigo dyed cotton shibori han juban for a few years.  I bought it for its wonderful, hand spun cotton yarns and its beautiful shibori pattern.  Only recently, though, did I turn it inside-out, only to realize that I like the “inside” better than the “outside.”As you can see from these photos, the inside of the han juban or half under-kimono, shows a centrally placed, undyed, hand spun and hand woven cotton panel which reinforces the back of the piece, shown here.  Very nice cotton indeed.  And flanking it are two patches, one pinkish and one white.  It’s amazing how perfectly placed these patches are: the visual allure is uncanny and unintended.Very nice shibori, too.This lovely piece probably dates to the late nineteenth century or so, and like many other Japanese folk textiles, is full of surprises once you start really looking.

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