Tag Archives: textile tour



beauty created

under pressure and time

by earth and by man


skills honed from a lifetime’s work

more precious than diamonds and pearls


Ronovan set us the prompt words of DIAMONDS and PEARLS this week for his haiku challenge.

To marry this challenge with our Photo Prompt of WORK  was a huge challenge and has taken me a while to get there. Go to Cathy’s Post to see more entries and leave a link to your ‘WORK’ photo.

I found it difficult to convey what I wanted to in the 5/7/5 haiku, a few more syllables were needed and so I have written a tanka this week. It does not perfectly fit the ‘rules’ but …

The sentiment is that beauty created by human endeavour and skill is more precious to me than diamonds.

The photo was taken in Mr. Hiroshi Murase’s shop in Arimatsu where we did our tie-dying workshop on my trip to Japan last November. They are preparing the cloth for dying by tying it in intricate patterns.


Miss E (8) saw me struggling with this challenge and wanted to write a poem using Ron’s prompt words – she wrote:

diamonds and pearls

diamonds and pearls

how lovely they can be


diamonds and pearls

diamonds and pearls

they form in the sea


diamonds and pearls

diamonds and pearls

they form under the ground


diamonds and pearls

diamonds and pearls

all waiting to be found


this is my poem I hope you like it



Next Week’s Photo Prompt is



Japan Day 3:2 Arimatsu Tie Dying

….and so to Arimatsu and Mr. Hiroshi Murase’s Tie Dying workshop.

Sitting at our desks Mr Murase gave us a little talk about the history of Shibori, with Yuka translating for us. Shibori is a type of tie-dying that this area of Japan is particularly famous for.



Our little kits were laid out for us and we were shown how to fold the strip of cotton fabric


making a triangular concertinaa4

before placing it between the two boards.


Mr. Murase checked each one to see it was accurately folded


before we added the elastic bands.


Then we walked a few doors down the street to his shop …

where the dye baths were set up in the doorway.


We were given a demonstration of how to dip the corners or edges of our triangle into the dye baths to create different patterns.


Blue on the left, red on the right.


There was a chart to show the different patterns possible.

We then rinsed the fabric twice in buckets of water before hanging the cotton out to dry.DSC_0125

Whilst they were drying we had a chance to wander round the village……….

The Textile Tour of Japan continues

At last I can get back to sharing my trip to Japan with you. When my old laptop died I could not access my photos, but now I am really enjoying looking through them again. A list of the previous posts are at the bottom of this post.

I went to Japan in November last year on an Arena Travel tour with Janice Gunner and 10 other wonderful women quilters, and one husband. P had come along with J, his wife, to see Japan, not intending to join in with the dyeing and sewing workshops, but he did join in and loved it.

In the last post I wrote about Japan we were at the Asakusa Kannon Temple, Tokyo,d1 on a special national holiday and the place was packed with people.

Wandering around the streets nearby there was a festival atmosphere, with fabulously garish food stallsd16

selling sweet potato chipsd18and rib sticking bananas coated in a sugary icing

d17I have been told by Golden Diamond that the Japanese generally have a horror of sugar and don’t eat much fruit as a result, but maybe this is put to one side on special holidays.

I went in search of a calmer place and walked towards a garden close to the Temple, where I came across a group of teenage girls all dressed beautifully in kimonos.d14

Sadly I only had my little camera with me so the photos are not great. I offered to take a photo of them all together with their cameras, they were delighted and this took quite a time. They were all so happy and giggly and when I asked if they were going to a special ceremony, they all laughed a lot and told me that they had gone to a kimono salon where they could hire the kimonos for the day, and have their hair and make-up done, just to go out and about and have photographs taken. Lots of people stopped to take photos of the group and there was a wonderfully friendly party atmosphere.

I was disappointed later when I realised I had not taken a better photo of them with my own camera.

Then a family came onto the bridge d10

and I offered the same to them


remembering to get one with my camera too this time

Mum stood back whilst masses of photos were taken by passers by


I wonder what it feels like to be a star for a day when you are 3 and then again at 7 years old.


All over the city there were kimono clad young women being photographed


After a packed day, it was time to pack our bags and prepare to leave early the following morning to go to JR Shinagawa Station to catch the Bullet Train to Nagoya ……

Previous posts:

First Evening in Japan

Japan Day Two: 1

Japan Day Two: 2

Japan Day Two: 3 Shopping

Japan Day Two: 4 Craft Centre

Japan Day Two: 5 Crazy Cats and a Hare in High Heels

Japan Day Two: 6 Doors and Windows

Japan Day Two: 7 Boro

Japan Day Two: 8 Temple


Japan Day Two: 3 – Shopping

Continuing taking you with me on my recent Textile Tour to Japan…….

We were asked if we wanted to go to the street with all the famous designer shops, but none of us were very interested in that, so we just drove through it past all the big names like Dolce and Gabbana.

I would have been interested to look inside Vivienne Westwood’s shop,


as V.W.  is one of my all time heroines and it would have been fun to see what goes down well in Tokyo.st7

Instead we chose Tokyo’s equivalent of Carnaby Street in London and walked through it, standing out as European tourists of a certain age! (You don’t see many grey haired people out and about in Japan.)



and enjoying the weird and wonderful




I can’t help wondering why the Japanese aren’t all overweight with pancake shops like these doing a roaring trade.
st3 st3a

All the samples on display are plastic and wonderfully garish.st3b

Look what’s on the menu: ‘Strawberry Chocolate Brown’, ‘Blueberry and Whipped Cream’,’Custard Chocolate Special’ and yes, of course, ‘Tuna Curry’!


I wish I had tried that strawberry one now.

A mountain of candy floss anyone?st3c

And this, can you believe it, is a boutique for dogs!

I was surprised to see a lot of English signage around. It pleased me too as it made me think that Japan is a place I could go to without going in a group, I feel confident I could find my way around.

When I needed to go to a camera shop as my camera was playing up I could communicate via a translation App on my iPad and the shop assistant replied to me via a translation App on his phone – brilliant! st5

‘Moshi moshi’ means ‘Hello’ especially when answering the phone, or trying to get someone’s attention.


I love this wonderfully mad clock – would love to make one!st5b

After this wander through the shopping street – no time for shopping, just looking! Our wonderful guide, as usual, assembled us all on the pavement and call up the coach driver to come and collect us.

The pelican crossings in Tokyo all had electronic bird sounds tweeting as you crossed – (ours just go beep-beep here in UK) – one even sounded like a cuckoo – sweet!


back in the coach watching the modern city go by.st8

and off to a craft centre ……….

Japan – Day Two:1

riceBreakfast was a huge buffet with just about everything on offer from salads, both fruit and vegetable; rice, sago, noodles and taro dishes: to carbonara and brocolli. I’m usually an adventurous eater and will try almost anything, but it was really good to have something familiar for breakfast, so I went for the sausages, egg and bacon, with a little bit of rice seasoning.

And I would have loved to trybeautybar

a beverage from the Beauty Bar, which promised to be “Your Partner for Inner Beauty and Health from Within”, but it was a Nestlé product, and I have not knowingly had any Nestlé product for nearly 20 years because of the company’s terrible unethical practices all over the world.

After breakfast our coach left at 9am. A photo taken from the window of the coach, showing the glorious blue sky and an example of the telegraph poles which were usually festooned with many more cables than this – tangling their way across Japan as all electrical cables are above ground due to the frequency of earthquakes.wires

Yuka, our lovely guideYuka got us to the Meiji Shinto Shrine before the main crowds descended, this being a special holiday.

She told us all sorts of fascinating facts about the shrine, which I held in my head at the time of the visit then – ‘poof’! They disappear!

It was a wonderfully warm, sunny day and the weather remained unusually warm for November in Japan for the whole two weeks we were there, with temperatures staying up in the 20s.


To get to the Shrine we walked along an avenue of Chrysanthemum displays, with some amazing exhibitsxmmxmum

I didn’t know you could Bonsai flower plants14

I would have loved to have been able to stop and get better photos


they were fascinating…..bonsai

intriguing…… surprising ……… beautiful………

and with more time I would have liked to ‘chat’ to the exhibitors and find out more about themmin gdn

but on – ON!16

there was more to see and I needed to keep up with the group….. (a bit of a recurring theme as it turned out!)

The Chrysanthemum is the flower of November in Japan, with many festivals happening all over the country. The plant first came to Japan from China as a medicinal plant offering special powers of health and longevity. The scent as we walked along this row of displays was subtle and strong at the same time, just perfect on a crisp sunny morning……

Joining in with Cee’s Flower of the Day

First evening in Japan

I have been really looking forward to sharing my trip to Japan with you all, so here goes.

This textile tour was booked through Arena Travel, who I am happy to recommend. We met up with our multi-talented and highly experienced quilter, tour leader Janice Gunner at Heathrow and after an hour’s flight delay, due to fog, we settled into our 12 hour British Airways flight to Tokyo over Finland, Russia, and Siberiafrozen-4 mts-3

I was delighted to be able to crochet a relaxing ripple whilst watching the in-flight movies and art programmes.

ripple crochet

This will be for my niece who loves all things mermaid, it is made mainly with Stylecraft Special DK with a couple of glitter yarns added in. (more about that in another yarny post).

We had a very smooth flight but for the last half an hour of pretty ghastly turbulence during our descent, which left me feeling rather queasy for a couple of hours afterwards. Safely at Narita Airport we were met by our delightful guide Yuka. Janice had worked with her before and two women in our group who had been on the Jan 2014 textile tour exchanged warm greetings and we were all made to feel very welcome immediately.

A 90min coach drive took us to our luxurious hotel,from hotel

The Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (view from my balcony) which has a beautiful large Japanese garden. Below is a map of the garden, with the hotel as the white rectangle at the bottom.map of gdn

One of the first people I saw was this kimono clad young woman hurrying through2-1

There is a large bell in its own roofed structure, bellthat is rung by striking it with the end of a thick piece of bamboo suspended on ropes.6

Since April 1st 2009 it has been rung 10 times, 30seconds apart, once each day, the sign says “our wish is for peace and happiness throughout the world”.
The woman who was about to carry out this daily ceremony as I was reading the sign, asked me if I would like to ring it. Of course I would!5
She counted each second silently then said to me,” 3, 2, 1 go”. 3She had pebbles to keep the count of 10 and moved each one along a piece of wood as the bell resonated above us, sending out the ripples of sound.
It was magical. What a beautiful start to the trip.

ringerWe had a lovely chat afterwards, she loved her trip to London 2 years ago, she had studied Shakespeare at university. Looking up at the hotel from the garden.


green teaBack to my room for a green tea and a spot of crochet before meeting the others for a supper of Tempura at a small local restaurant.



The end of an amazing day…… Goodnight Tokyo8-1

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along