Saturday, 16 April 2011

Hats, Cats and Golden Bats.

Today we went somewhere I`ve wanted to visit for ages - the Shibori Museum. Shibori is a tie dyeing technique of wrapping and tying fabric to make a resist, then dyeing it, leaving it to dry, and untying it. The results are absolutely stunning. We were shown round/closely guarded by a guy who decided I could understand Japanese (I do, but only a little) and that I wanted to learn everything about shibori (which is true). So I think I learnt a lot, but then again I may have got the wrong end of the stick...

The picture shows shibori before it has been dyed - the tiny bumps are pinches of silk that have been wrapped 9 times in silk thread, then tied. There are up to 200,000 of these bumps in a shibori kimono!!! It takes 2 years for a person to tie a full shibori kimono. So it`s rather expensive to buy. And the technique can`t be replicated by machine, it has to be done by hand.

We were blown away but the exhibits in the museum; a full panorama of Kyoto done in shibori on fusama sliding doors being one of the highlights. The man who made it has been a shibori master for 50 years and it took him 4 years to create. They don`t do things by halves, these Japanese.

Turns out that the guy who showed us round had actually made Yohji Yamamoto`s collection for Paris fashion week. Eek! And there he is showing li`l old me round the museum. What a dude.
En route to lunch, I couldn`t help but take a picture of this rather interesting shop sign. Make of it what you will.
Not entirely sure what to make of it myself, except that Ian McShane was nowhere to be seen.

Anyway, we had a delicious, cheap lunch at the Sushi-Go-Round. Mmm, Sushi-Go-Round...
Daughter was very excited (if still a little queasy after the flight) as our next stop was the Manga Museum. She`s a right manga-head, that one. Unsure what to expect, it was a pleasant surprise to see loads of teenagers having a Cosplay day on the front lawn of the museum.
Cosplay (costume play) is where people dress as their favourite Anime (animation/cartoon) character. That explains the `costume` bit, but I`m not entirely convinced about where the `play` bit comes into it. They seemed to be just wandering about posing for photos with each other and that was about it. But according to Daughter it`s `really cool` and `loads of fun` so what do I know? Must be a young person`s thing.
One of the universities in Kyoto (there are loads) teaches degrees in manga, and they send their students to work at the museum. Today, some were doing portraits, so of course Daughter couldn`t miss the opportunity. The portrait was done on a shikishi board - a traditional Japanese board for painting on, so it was a nice touch of tradition meeting modern.
The crazy-looking guy in the picture above is a kamishibai story teller. Kamishibai is a tradition from the early 20th century where people would travel around telling stories using picture boards, then sell sweets and trinkets to the audience. I`ve always wanted to see kamishibai, and this man was amazing in that he flitted between Japanese and English so fast that nobody really knew what language he was speaking, but we all understood. I even won a `real imitation` cheap plastic ring, for recognising a picture of a panda! Get in. The story he told was about a girl who`d been kidnapped but was saved by `The Golden Bat`, a `justice superhero` who was neither golden, nor a bat. But whatever.
In the museum shop, Daughter bought a tin of biscuits and realised the lady at the counter was dressed as the character on the front of the tin! As it`s very illegal to take pictures in the museum, she insisted they had to stand in front of the lockers for a photo.
Another highlight of Daughter`s day (as if it could get better) was a hat, and a cat! She buys a new hat almost everywhere she goes so that wasn`t much of a surprise. But managing to find the vegetarian restaurant which is apparently `almost impossible to find` was a great bonus. The lady there cooked us each 6 dishes of not-quite-sure-what-but-at-least-we-were-safe-eating-it-knowing-it-was-vegetarian, and everyone had at least 2 dishes that were unique, so we could swap and share. Oishii!

Bonus of bonuses, a cat was in a basket at the end of the bar waiting to be stroked. Happy days.

OK, random shot for the end of today`s entry - 4 monks standing at a bus stop (not the best picture as taken from the bus). Insert punchline below.