May 25, 2013-Sericulture farm visit part one

Today’s first post covers the visit to the silk farmer and sericulturist Koyata san.  Koyata san is in his early to mid 90’s at this point and this is our third visit with him at his house and cocoonery.  Although he is 4 years older now than when I first met him he remains the same- maybe it is the steep uphill climb to his family shrine and graveyard nearby that keeps him so fit in addition to the daily chores of silkworm rearing he continues to do.  These days, he does get some help from the Tama Silk Life 21 group that preserves traditional silk techniques, history and intellectual property through education, practice and exhibitions.  It is difficult and sad to see so much disappearing before our very eyes.

Koyata san and Okonoge sensei

Koyata san and Okonoge sensei

Upon our arrival we were greeted as the bus pulled up by a group of volunteers from the Tama Silk Life 21 group who were here for the day to help educate us on silk sericulture.  We have met them before and they are very happy to see our interest in what they are doing.  It has become increasingly difficult to interest the younger generation in sericulture and it’s important place in the history of Japan.

We began with a visit into the cocoonery- where the kaiko (silkworms) are raised-

cocoon house

cocoon house

 

Noriko explains the process in English

Noriko explains the process in English

The white powder you see is lime- it helps keep the silkworms dry as they shed their skins and move into the next instar.

3rd instar kaiko

3rd instar kaiko

inbetween instars, they take a rest from eating and look like they are in a “praying pose”.

Once they have shed their skins, they will become ravenous and the 4th and 5th instars are a very busy time with all the feeding that takes place.  Much mulberry leaf is eaten!

Moving on- we learn to reel silk cocoons-

Sensei gives us the reeling demonstration

Sensei gives us the reeling demonstration

the whole reeling set up

the whole reeling set up

Sue reels and is amazed! Gambate Sue!

Sue reels and is amazed! Gambate Sue!

hands that know teach hands that learn...

hands that know teach hands that learn…

Here, we begin to learn about the cocoon and the pupae inside.

then we learn to spread the cocoons into mawata-or as we call it silk hankies.

I make mawata- everyone got a turn here.

I make mawata- everyone got a turn here.

then, we learned to take the cocoons and spread them into a lofty quilt bat.  Quite an amazing process.

mawata spreading 1

mawata spreading 1

mawata spreading 2

mawata spreading 2

mawata spreading 3

mawata spreading 3

Repeating this about 100 times a silk quilt bat was made and inserted into a cotton cover which was then tied and stitched closed.

tying and stitching- the finishing touches

tying and stitching- the finishing touches

Seems I will have to conclude this post in part two- my internet connection here is about to end as I have to travel to Shibuya this morning.  Will conclude the visit and also show you the fabulous visit to the Amuse Museum where the boro exhibit is located.

a little preview…

donja

donja

shibori and sashiko

shibori and sashiko

December 17, 2012

I came across this video recently and thought you might find it interesting. and, a little itajime indigo in the end.

sorry about the volume levels.  i just figured out how to better mix the levels…

a little update here-

for some reason the email notification doesn’t seem to be working here.  I’ve sent a message to WP for a fix so in the meantime, just bookmark this site to return to it daily or whenever you like.  also, the scheduling function isn’t working so i have to go in to manually  publish until they answer that question too.  raining here again today but last night we had the pleasure of watching a lot of kids make merry music-