August 24, 2015


Impression of the Japanese market in Leiden

Inge Timan & Koen de Wit at the exhibition Silk Splendour

On 24 May we went to the Japanese Market in Leiden. The Japanmuseum SieboldHuis organizes this event on the street in front of the museum. My lover Koen and my good friend Inge Timan are both big fans of Japanese culture (the way I'm a very big fan of Indonesian culture) so it sounded like the perfect day to spend together. 
Through the very busy street, we first made our way to the museum. A special exhibition was being held showing 16 kimonos by Itchiku Kubota (1917-2003). I didn't know about this legend, but when we entered the room, we knew immediately. 
The room was filled with huge kimonos that were of a vague pastel colour, yet they sparkled vibrantly. In the kimonos landscapes were being revealed of setting suns and snowy mountains. The colours and texture make patterns of leaves, flowers, rivers, snowflakes and birds.
A depth in layers, zooming in, and in, and in.
The pastel colour fading showed that it was a kind of tie dye technique. But with so many colours and  with an amazing variety and purity of colour.

Dazzled by the technique of these wonderful pieces, we watched a short film about the making of it in the exhibition. In the video below 'Kimono As Art' you see how Itchiku Kubota got inspired to make these works. He first got introduced to Tsujigahana when he saw a cloth made with this technique from the 16th century when he was twenty. “My heart was beating faster; I was moved, trembling and fascinated in the face of such mastery and refinement of beauty. For over three hours I remained transfixed there in the deserted museum hall contemplating this little fragment of fabric which seemed to have been on display in the showcase for me alone.”
But many things happened before he could finally make the extinct technique his own. He start reviving and rewriting the textile dyeing Tsujigahana in his own way. There was no other way, because the art form wasn't practiced anymore. From age 43 till 60 he worked on unveiling the mystery of Tsujigahana. How could he get the fine grey-blurry line that defines a true Tsujigahana?
His queste to make this technique his own, and to make it live on, is inspiring and admirable.
In the first part of the video below (at 4min) you get a glimpse of how the fabric is turned into an artwork by sewing, knotting, wrapping and dyeing. He laughs about his impatient character and how he could ever thought of choosing this specific, detailed, long processed technique.
With up to 30 different dyes to make his landscapes he talks not about the way or the how long, but the importance of sharing a story with an audience. He experienced the most beautiful thing he ever saw in the most awful period in his life. He says in the video: "I want my textiles to tell a story". What this story is, he doesn't share, but I think he wants to tells us about hope, perseverance and following your dreams. Maybe they sound like a pile of cliches, but when someone makes these works at the ago of 80 with the plan to create 80 pieces in total, getting all wound up because his key piece in his exhibition in Washington is put into a corner, you just hope you can achieve a little of what he have done or at least enjoy beauty even when things are getting tough.

After the great exhibition at the SieboldHuis we went outside to see the market. The goodies weren't that impressive, but the visitors: Sugoi! First photo-collage of this post is a little overview of the day. A lot of people were wearing kimono's, but also a few Japanese Lolita's were showing of their lace & bows. We wanted everything and nothing at the stalls and only bought sushi, which was freshly made in front of us and was super good!
So we will definitely visit the Japanese market again next time!

More about Itchiku Kubota and his wonderful collection on
More about the Janpanmuseum SieboldHuis on

Before ending this post, I want to share one more thing!
My friend Inge Timan who I mentioned earlier in this post is not only a big fan of Japan, but also a very talented artist. She will be giving a Shibori workshop at the lovely Camera Japan Festival 2015 on Saturday the 26th of September. Shibori is a tie-dyeing technique and forms the base for Itchiku Kubota's Tsujigahana. So a perfect way to get an introduction in the wonderful world of Japanese textiles dyeing!

More about Camera Japan Festival on
More about Inge Timan on

* blogpost title "テキスタイル" is Japanese for "Textile"