Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Silk painting (katazome) at Kaga Yuzen Shop, Kanazawa

Sometimes I just can't believe that I'm living in Japan and I'm struggling to find traditional Japanese gifts for Christmas presents! Yes I'm Christmas shopping and with a shopping list as long as a double decker bus and a family of all ages and varying tastes I've found it hard.

As I pass through Kanazawa station every day I had seen some beautiful Japanese silk hankercheifs and scarves for sale which I thought would be perfect for my Nanna as a present. I had heard as well that you can try silk painting for yourself somewhere in Kanazawa so I thought I'd give it a go.

So I decided to go along to the Kaga Yuzen Products Display Hall a short walk from the Kenrokuen to see if I could practice the art of 'katazome' (stencil cutting and and painting) on a silk handkerchief.

Admittedly I find turning up at these places with my limited Japanese always a bit daunting but I had practiced my "hankachi o tsukritai onegai shimasu" (I'd like to make a handkerchief please) and it worked a treat!

I was ushered to the basement floor and a lovely little old lady showed me to my paints and explained everything in Japanese. I politely kept saying "wakarimashita" (I understand)but only actually understood about a quarter of what she was saying.

The lovely lady at Kaga Yuzen Products Display Hall

Basically they have the outline of the patterns already set up on the hankys. You choose whether you have 3 basic colours ( ¥1050) or 6 colours that you can mix ( ¥1890) I went for the latter.
Note to anyone thinking of going- give yourself at least an hour to do the painting and if you're super pedantic (like me) and want to mix the exact shade of green for one of your leaves then give yourself 2 hours. The basic patterns are nice but if I'd had more time I would have made my own sakura (cherry blosson) stencil.

Anyway I set to work mixing my colours which is sooooo hard but the classical music playing in the background calmed me down and made me feel like one of those boho arty types. Didn't last long though. I then realised (after it was too late) that there's an actual knack to painting onto the silk and you have to mix it with this white paste BEFORE applying to the silk to stop it running....as a consequence one of my leaves was a bit messed up.

Painting the leaves!

Next the flowers....

Anyway, heres the end result! I found it a relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon instead of my usual running about.

My finished silk hanky

By the way, I should really mention that the ground floor of the Kaga Yuzen Products Display Hall has yuzen kimonos on display. Yuzen is a type of dyed textile unique to Japan and used for kimonos. In the 18th century, Miyazaki Yuzensai, an excellent dye craftsman developed a technique to draw ordinary flowers and trees on textiles. It was revolutionary at the time and yuzen was named after him.

Also worth a mention and something I really want to see is that in the winter season in Kanazawa, you can apparently watch the locals washing out the starch and dye from silk directly in the river, one of the last steps of the whole hand dyeing process.

The Kaga Yuzen Products Display Hall website is http://www.kagayuzen.or.jp/english.html

The kanji sign outside Kaga Yuzen Products Display Hall

The entrance of Kaga Yuzen Products Display Hall

Map below

View Kaga Yuzen Products Display Hall in a larger map

1 comment:

  1. Mindsets & Lifestyles have to change....or it will keep passing on to all generations...Praying that change will come.... The Tragedy