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May 2008

Felt Making Workshop


May 30(Fri) or 31(Sat) 10:00 - 15:30

This is a very joyful 1day workshop of felt making.

You can learn all kinds of basic tecniques in this class.
Let's make accesary parts, small pot stans, or cell phone pockets.

◆TANAKA Makiko
◆Choose one day you like.
◆3000 yen (including cost of materials)
◆Bring your owen lunch, 2 face towels, plastic bags.
◆Inquiry : 0467-23-3663 or mail here

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Knitt Cafe in Khaju


May 25 (Sun) 13:00 -

Makiko's studio in Khaju Art space holds a small comfortable tea party with knitting every 4th Sunday.

Everybody who likes knitting is welcome including beginners.
Don't hesitate to join us!

You can buy beautiful hand-dyed yarns here at very reasonable price.

◆1000 yen for entrance fee (+drinks and cakes)
◆Bring your own knitting tools if you have.
◆Inquiry : 0467-23-3663

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Getting colors from Mulberry Leaves



KUWA. Mulberry tree in English.
We all Japanese have been feeling familiar with Mulberry. Because Mulberry leaves are only foods for silk worms and you could see many silk farming-farmers here and there in Japan until before the World War 2. In fact, you can see " Mulberry Mark"(the right photo) in any Japanese maps as a common.

Although Japanese silk is well-known to all over the world with its high quality, Japanese silk farming is almost disappearing in these days because there are no successors.

KUWA is dioecim. Male and female has different shape of leaves.
I have a female KUWA tree in my garden and it has a lot of berries right now.

Last year I dyed some silk scarves with the leaves of my KUWA in the same season. I could get very profound dark greenish grey with iron mordant. My color therapist friend said " This color has a special power to ease people's pain and to remind them importance of having time to make a conversation with themselves."

Of course KUWA berries are good items for making jam or fruit liqueur.
At the same time we Japanese have been taking its dry leaves as tea traditionally. It is said that KUWA leaves includes much iron, calcium

I and some students in my dyeing class will dye with KUWA leaves again tomorrow.
We are going to try to get 2 colors from KUWA liquid with 2 different mordant : iron and aluminum.

I will report the colors later.

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A 900-year old German tradition is still alive.

We are traveling apprentice-craftsmen on the "Walz" . We are happy to start a traditional journey to become master craftsmen.

In the Middle Ages (the 14th - the 17th century) it was necessary to go on a 3-year journey to become a qualified Master. There was an ancient rule you had to go 50 kilomrters from your home. This is is still true, but not necessary to become a Master. We do this in our own interest.

When we prepare for the "Walz" we have to wear the "Kluft" (traditional outfit) : trousers, vest, jacket, shirt, and hat every day. Depending on the profession, the colors of the outfit change. Wood workers (carpenters and joiners) wear black. Stone workers (stonemasons and brick layers) wear grey. Metal workers (blacksmiths and goldsmiths) wear blue.We wrap all our clothes in a 80×80 cm wrapping cloth called "Charly". The last part of our outfit is a wooden walking stick called "Stenz" which is made of natural twisted wood which we find by ourselves in the forest.

We journeymen don't make this trip to obtain economic advantages at the places we visit. we just want to get
acquainted with the practices of work and way of living of other people in other countries, and thus improve our knowledge about our profession and expand our living experiences.

In this way we travel from city to city, from country to country and work in many places to learn and earn money for our traveling.We learn to stand on our own 2 feets, but we are happy to have some local support.

We decided to come to Japan, because we hear a lot about traditional Japanese wood and stonework. After a short journey around Mt. Fuji we have just stopped in Kamakura at Khaju Art Space to do a project for the local people.

Adrian Berger
Roland Kindlimann
Rene Breuer

*They made up wonderful workshops during Khaju Spring Festival

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What's BEE?

Greetings from the BEE (Bicycle for Everyone’s Earth) team!
We’re a team of earthly friendly cyclists who traverse the length of Japan every summer to spread environmental wisdom. This all-volunteer group of international cyclists promotes an ecologically friendly lifestyle in our two month journey across Japan starting from Wakkanai in the northern island of Hokkaido and ending in Kagoshima in the southern island of Kyushu. And we do more just ride our bikes: We practice what we preach by living a low-impact lifestyle during the ride and we also conduct various environmental awareness events with NPOs and schools.

For this year’s ride, the BEE team is seeking volunteers to ensure continued success.
If you have any interest in the BEE lifestyle, or would like to know more about the ride itself or the events, or would simply like to know how you can be a better steward for our earth, contact the BEE team today to ask about volunteer opportunities. Other than participating as a cyclist, there are many other ways to volunteer such as event planning and identifying accommodations for the route. Note that if you want to participate in the ride, you don’t have to ride the entire two months.

You can decide to ride with us for just an hour, or a day, or a week – whatever your schedule permits. With our mix of international backgrounds and environmental conscientiousness, we can promise you an unforgettable and meaningful experience. We hope to hear from you soon!

YAMAMOTO Munetaka ( rider in ' BEEJapan2007' , also Khaju Volunteer staff)

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News and Messages

Khaju Art Space publish Khaju Newsletter 4 times a year season by season.
We select some essays and translate them into English.
We hope this page becomes an opportunity for you to touch Japanese general thinking, our philosophy and activities about local art scene in Kamakura city.

Also we write up the latest news and information time by time in this page.

We always welcome your inquiries and opinions. Send your voice here.

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Spring Festival is over


The 12th Khaju Spring Festival was held during April 27th,28th, 29th.

For those three days 26 artists including 3 traditional carpenters from Europe made up workshops, exhibits or live performances. We are so glad that more than 2000 visitors came to join us.
We appreciate all the supports by local sponsors, volunteer staff and visitors.

Please see the photos.→click here

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Shape of Life


Makiko,Today is July 4th in 1985. This card is to be delivered 16 years later.You are to be 35 or 36 years old. You must have married and have 2 or 3 kids . Or are you a sccess as a great textile artist? Any way, Grandpa and Grandma wish you all happiness from heaven."......

On New Year's Day this year, 2001, I surely recieved the card which my grandmother wrote this message on at an event of Post Capsule to 21st century & supervised by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in Tsukuba World Science Exposition in 1985.
I wonder why she wrote this message to every grandchild supposing she would be dead 16 years later though she was 65 years old in good health at that time.
As she passed away 3 years later, I can't help feeling that the card was delivered from heaven.

Yes,I became a professional weaver,but contrary to her expectation, I'm single, have only one kid. Sorry, Grandma.......

The card made me aware that my life is sustained by not living people around me, but people who has been already dead.
I could see that the people used to live with dead people until my parents generation.
They used to report every day's happenings to their dead parents or gandparents in front of a house holded alter.

'Bon' is one of Japanese annual functions in August 13 〜16 (July 13〜16 in the Lunar calender)
Originally, it's from Buddism. Many of us take Bon-holidays around these days even today. But the spirit seems to be almost lost. It has been quite naturally thinking that the closed dead people come back to their family during Bon.
All the family gather to spend the holidays togather including dead members.(By the way, on the16th, the last day of Bon, we prepare some dolls in the shape of horse or cow made of cucumber or eggplant as vehicle for dead family to go back to the other world. It's a little delightful, isn't?)
I suppose the distance between to be alive and to be dead is perhaps much shorter than we think.

Custom of birthday celebration has become permanent fixture with today's Japanese society. If a boy forgets his girlfriend's birthday, she will not speak to him for three days and all grandparents have their grandchildren's birthday present at heart.
But, until the World War, as it was general thinking that people grew a year older on New Year's Day in the year. Birthday itself seemed not to be so important at that time. On the contrary, it was the Day of Person's Death called 'Mei-nichi', which is written 'Day of Life(!)' in Chinese characters, that the Japanese had been taking as much more serious. When somebody passed away, his or her closed peopleused to memorise and pray for him(her) not on 'Mei-nichi' day, but every monthly 'Mei-nichi' day.

Each family keeps the family list book of carender called 'Kako-cho'(notebook of history), in which all the names of dead family and each date they passed away are recorded. As my mother was the eldest daughter of her parents and had no brother, she inherited her family's 'Kako-cho' . But it is kept on being closed recently.
It's easy for me to belive that some people say civilization began with funeral performing.Thinking of the way of sending off the dead and death itself could be connected to thinking of 'how to live', the essence of civilization, I suppose.

I have a vision. Being born is that a small part of universal energy gets a shape.
A shape and another shape make a good harmony.
A shape and another shape repel each other.
A shape and another shape get united and divided again and again.
That's to live, isn't it?

I dye some natural fiber materials to weave in my studio where is more than 70years old wooden house in Japanese traditional style surrounded a big yard full of various kinds of wild plants and trees.
I take those plants as dye stuff almost every day season by season. I boil all kinds of leaves, roots, barks and fruits to extract hundreds colors. The colors are put onto silk, wool, linen and cotton yarns. Each color changes delicately depending on the season, weather, soil and so on. Through every process of dying and weaving I can see life of plants changes its shape complicatedly. I'm always surprised that unbelievable beautiful colors which are not imaginable from the color of extracted liquid and the plant itself come out, and are put onto, for example, silk fiber spat out from tiny silk worm's mouth. After dyed yarns are set on the weaving loom, warp and weft sing in turn to make a symphonic poem 'cloth'.
I feel a whole process of this work is a relay of life, shape to shape.

Shimura Fukumi who is a living national treasure of weaving in Japan and also well known as an outstanding essayist wrote about such process in her book.
The bark of cherry tree is a good dye stuff to get pink color,but the color changes season by season. Only in spring, just before blooming, the bark gives me pale pink, the very color of cherry blossoms. It seems that the tree of full body stores the blossom's color for blooming.
A shape of energy is not influenced by another but by invisible energy that hasn't have any shape yet. And maybe it will influence next shape .
To be given a shape, to give back the shape. This repitition could be the cycle of life and death. ....Overthinking?

I could see that there is a rule taking charge of all of these universal energy's actions. If it's allowed to call the rule 'God ', being aware of such huge energy, to imagine waves of the energy, or trying to read the way of energy's moving is a dialog with God for me, I wonder.

We have some choices to dispose empty shapes. I wouldn't like to put my shape into a tomb. Thinking of any other style of disposing, I've found my parents was thinking in the same way and they became members of " Free Funeral Association" putting the head office in Tokyo. They seem to hope that their crashed bone is scattered in the ocean. (Oh, no, wait a minite. Who scatters their bone ash??)
The 21st century is the time of ecology. So, I don't care to give any parts of my shape to sombody needs it. But, at the same time, I can't agree with easy thinking of modern medical science like "Let's cut off the diseased part and put the new one." Then, for the time being, I've finished registered my eyeballs to Eye-bank. It's the last message to others from me who has been working in the world filled with beautiful coloers and trying to transmit the fun of colors.

Living with dead people and unborn people thinking about universal enargy.........
Saigyo, a well-known monk as Tanka poet 1117-1198, says "I want to die under a cherry tree of full blooming in spring." But I 'd like to give back my shape to the earth in the deep forest of beech tree at the middle of May hearing of murmuring of a river with believing "Yes, I've certenly hand something to following people." And I'll be so happy if my shape becomes manure for the forest.

Oh, it's perfect.

by Tanaka Makiko

-from Khaju Newsletter 2001 early spring version

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