Ah the fabric. A delight for the eyes, and a real drain on the pocket book unless you are very judicious.... which I was. Yes, I splurged at Nuno, and I bought lots of beautiful persimmon hand dyed fabric at the flea market. But I resisted the amazing cottons both old and new that I would have gone mad over if I was sewing clothes. I tried to be very focused on my selection thinking about how I might use pieces in my work.
One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Amuse Museum in Tokoyo that has a wonderful collection of boro. As a person who has worked with museums, I cringed a bit where the signs said you could touch the materials, and I could not bring myself to actually touch the displays.
The museum had some wonderful captions. One that I especially liked:
"I recall my grandmother's words telling me as a child when she found me playing with scissors and cutting cloth, " Realize that you are just now cutting your own flesh." My grandmother, a woman who cherished fabrics taught me that cloth and clothing can not be replaced with anything in our human life. There is a life dwelling it: the endless will and wishes of humans are delicately woven into each cloth."
Indeed, the fabric did appear to have a life of its own, and you could feel the generations that used one piece of material, carefully mended and stitched over and over again. It made me rethink my own casual approach to material, and our society's disposable attitude towards fabric and clothing. Perhaps the quilting community in the USA, who often goes to great length to preserve and admire the stitchers of the past, have some clue how some Japanese feel about fabric.