So the big news here is that M. and I are moving back to Japan. My wife is from Osaka, that's Osaka castle above. We actually met at University and after our studies went to live in Japan for a number of years, first in Osaka, later in Kyoto, we were married there in fact, in one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, Shimogamo jinja. We came back to the UK ten years ago but now it's time to move back, to be closer to family, but also because we both just miss the place.
M. will be going early next year and I'll be following around the end of May once Visa's are all sorted out. Hopefully we'll be moving back to Kyoto, just down the road from Osaka. Any readers want to give me the lowdown on the Kyoto/Osaka/Kobe Ashtanga scene?
|Demachiyanagi, Kyoto. This is taken from the bridge just up from where we used to live. I played sax under this bridge every morning for a couple of years and in all weathers.|
This morning I was reminded of something Kristina said in the interview post last week.
Kristina: "It is of paramount importance for the practitioners to develop awareness of the cultural heritage of the place they are in".
Kristina was talking about Greece but I'm looking forward to exploring the encounter between my own practice and the rich cultural heritage of Japan, of Zen and Shinto.... obviously but the Aesthetic concept of Wabi-sabi also comes to mind, "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete", there's a definition for Ashtanga for you to chew over.
My friend Esther lives in Japan, In Yamagata, mountain country. She's from the England and I had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of years back, took in some Art, coffee, lots of Ashtanga talk. Esther is an Ashtanga practitioner and teacher.
She also makes bags, mat bags....from up cycled Kimono's
I've been hassling Ester to send me a guest post on her mat bags, made from recycled kimono's, ever since I first saw one posted on fb. After much pestering and pinning she's come through with lots of pictures and a guest post, see the following blog post. I sent a few questions as a framework but it turns out that Esther had already answered some questions in a post on another blog, the much loved Small Blue Pearls/ The Runway project (send in your runway pictures)
Here's a taste but go to the link above perhaps for better questions than mine.
Q: How long does each bag take to make?
A: I have no idea how long the total process is but considering the amount of time each bag takes, they're probably under priced. I begin by taking apart the kimono, then washing, drying, ironing. Then the fun of matching fabrics, threads and zippers. The zippers are all made-to-order for me, so I have to wait 10 days for them to arrive. This is slow work! But I love every stage of it. I have a choice of 240 zipper colours, the choices are endless. I love thinking up colour combinations, the creative process is so stimulating. Then the cutting, stitching, ironing, lots of prep work. Making the bias tape, inserting the piping on the end pieces, finally the sewing. I find it a very peaceful, meditative act. Quietly working away, sometimes listening to podcasts (helps to keep my English active and feed my brain) and other times, embarrassing to admit, I listen to Indian chants, sutras, Bhagavad Gita—really puts me in a good headspace to create.
Q: Are there a lot of kimonos to choose from? Not being from Japan, they seem so precious to me...
A: There are lots and lots of kimono here, but most are very very very expensive. I root around the recycle shops looking for bargains. Old ones, some with stains or holes which may have very good fabric yet are worthless as kimono, so can be picked up fairly cheaply. I like the vintage fabrics best . . . getting harder to find those though. Right now I have quite a stock. I can make about 4 bags from a single kimono. I want to make one-of-a-kind pieces though. Mainly because this is more of an art project for me, I don't want to mass produce them— I enjoy making each one individually. Certainly not a great business model, but that's not why I'm doing it.
See the next post for Esther's responses to my own questions regarding her bags in her 'Guest post'
GUEST POST: Esther's AsobiGokoro Bags Yoga Mat Bags: Recycled Kimono