Friday, July 27, 2012


Yesterday I mentioned to Aiko about one of the ideas I had - I like this idea of Boro - using scraps of clothes to patch up rural work wear, and that the workwear has become collector's items. Aiko told me that Boro means a piece of clothing which is in rags, and is not what I mean really, I was trying to explain it is using scraps of something that are not worth anything, but together they become worth a lot. Aiko said this is more like Tsugihagi. I wanted to ask the villagers if each person will give me a piece of scrap rag and I could then stitch them together to become Boro (Tsugihagi), I had mentioned it to Jamie as well and he said - you can't just turn up at people's houses, it's not like at home. I wasn't sure what he meant until today: I wouldn't really turn up at people's houses at home either, but I see that there is a whole set of customs to be observed when visitors call. Aiko said she would help me to collect 'hagire' (which means a strip of material) from the villagers if we see them. 
This morning we went along to Aiko's vegetable patch a few minutes down the mountain. She is growing tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot and peppers. While we were there Yoko-san, one of the villagers arrived to say good morning, and see what we were picking. 
Aiko introduced me and explained what I am looking for. Yoko said, she doesn't really have any hagire, but that she has some old traditional workwear ( the type that I seemed to be talking about in relation to Boro) and she might be able to bring me something. 
On the way back to Kayamori House we met another villager, Toshiko-san. Aiko asked Toshiko too, and Toshiko said that she had been a seamstress, and so had plenty of strips of material if we needed them.
When we got back to the house I did some drawing, and then after not very long Toshiko-san arrived with a bag full of cucumbers 
(which is funny because every day at least two villagers bring a bag of cucumbers - we are eating a lot of cucumbers - even the cat is eating them) and a bag of hagire. So now I see what Jamie meant, when you visit, you must bring a gift (bag of cucumbers for example) and then the host must make tea and provide cake, so if I turn up at people's houses they may be obliged to feed me, and also I can't speak Japanese, so it would be hard to explain what I was doing there.
Toshiko's bag of hagire yielded a good selection, of which I chose the ones below for my Tsugihagi, so I think I am already getting somewhere with it.
The Boro-wear that I had seen was always dyed indigo - because rural farmwear was usually dyed with indigo pigment, as it is a natural insect repellent - and there are a lot of mosquitoes here. Aiko and I are going to do some research to see if there is anything growing here at Kayamori that we can use to die the Tsugihari. Later on we are going to local rice-farmer Okata-san's house to eat non-eel (eating eel at this time is meant to make you virile - but I am a vegetarian so Okata-san is preparing me non-eel) and we will ask him if he has any hagire for the Tsugihagi. I like the idea of creating this Tsugihagi, because it seems that the community on the mountain is all about sharing - hence the abundance of cucumbers at Kayamori today. The Tsugihagi will be a representation of shared resources.

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