I’m excited to announce that I’ve been working with a writer on some articles about Japan that are published in some online Tokyo magazines. I had the privilege of accompanying the fabulous Joan Bailey to do photography when she went to Tochigi to learn about yukitsumugi silk. I have a very keen interest in traditional crafts and artisans in Japan so I was very excited to be working on this.
Yukitsumigi is a designated intangible cultural treasure in Japan. The complete production of the silk is by hand. It’s extremely labor intensive. Two things that make yukitsumugi unique (other than completely un-automated production) is that the fabric lacks the regular shine of silk since the strands are not twisted; and the pattern is not dyed or painted onto the fabric after weaving. Instead, the threads are dyed before hand, looped and knotted according to complex calculations then dyed. The pattern of the dyed threads emerges as the fabric is woven.
This was my first time to work with Joan and Gaijin Pot and Savvy Tokyo. Our guides were great and the artisans incredibly friendly and generous with their time. I hope to do more stories like these in the future.
You can read Joan’s article at Gaijin Pot here. Joan goes into much more detail about the silk. The photos are by yours truly. Here’s the link for the article for Savvy Tokyo piece.