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Quilters Express to Japan

Quilters Express to Japan

Japanese Theatre:

Costume & Performance Tour

In Partnership with Theatre Nohgaku

October 2016

This is a brand NEW and one-time tour offering, a partnership (ad)venture between Quilters' Express to Japan and Theatre Nohgaku, an internationally acclaimed theatrical company specializing in Japanese noh drama, led by Artistic Director and author of The Guide to Noh of the National Noh Theatre, Mr. Richard Emmert. Japanese noh is one of the oldest theatre forms still in practice in the world today with its roots in the 14th century. The stories told through noh, acted out on an almost bare stage, offer a unique combination of music, drama, and dance and provide us with a glimpse of life in the 14-16th century—which happens to include a strong belief in supernatural beings!

The main focus of this textile tour is to zero in on the designs and construction of the sumptuous and elegant costumes of noh, from technical and historical perspectives, and also religious ones. Once we gain an understanding of how the textiles are created, we will be allowed to view the elaborate process of costume dressing: We will see how “flat” cloth becomes a 3-D sculpture on the body of an actor, and how the actor becomes the character. As members of the audience, we will how see these costumes come to life, and sense the integral role they play in the hand-crafted nature of the entire noh performance.

The Japanese Costume & Performance Tour is set to take place in October 2015 at the height of Japan’s well-known autumnal glory (think red maple and golden gingko!) and will visit Kyoto, Fukuyama, & Nara. The first several days will be spent in Kyoto, balancing our time between educational presentations in the morning and both sightseeing and visits to specific weaving studios and costume museums in the afternoon. Kyoto sightseeing highlights include: Kiyomizu Temple, Heian Shrine, and Sanjusangendo. Our esteemed guest speakers will introduce us to Japanese theatre and to the kimono form itself before addressing the specific weaving and embroidery techniques required for the production of the fabrics. On two separate evenings we will attend performances of both kabuki and noh, so we can compare and contrast the two theatrical forms. Next, we transfer to the small port town of Fukuyama, located along the Seto Inland Sea for two days. We start our visit here with an afternoon of leisurely sightseeing. The following day, we are invited guests of the Oshima family of professional Japanese noh actors of the Kita-Ryu School. Topics that might be discussed are: Costume Dressing, noh masks, Gestures, Movement, and Sound. From there, it’s on to Nara, the first capital of Japan, where we’ll spend two days visiting Buddhist temples to view the early religious sculpture from the 700s. In this setting, our final presenter asks us to consider the role that Buddhism played in the development of Japanese theatre. We then return to Kyoto for our last two days, just in time for the largest flea market of the year and also the annual Costume Parade of the Eras, more than a suitable finale! Or, if you wish, you can enjoy free time visiting places on your own list. We will gather for a “sayonara” dinner on the last night before departure.

We hope you will join us on this 25th Anniversary tour offering of QETJ. Names and biographies of our four very special guest lecturers will be sent to tour members prior to departure, along with a beautifully printed booklet about noh which is yours to keep. If you would like to read more about noh, or have a reference to Theatre Nohgaku (and their previous costume workshops), or to the Oshima family, I invite you to explore the following:

Theatre Nohgaku Blog

Theatre Nohgaku

Photo, top: The character Tennin from the play Hagoromo, Courtesy of Theatre Nohgaku

Quilters Express to Japan

25th Quilt and Textile
Tour to Japan:

Japan~ury 2016

Tentative Dates: January 13–25, 2016

Quilters’ Express to Japan (QETJ) is owned and operated solely by Susan Ball Faeder, and combines her two passions: textiles and Japan. The Japan~uary 2016 offering is Susan’s 25th Textile Tour of Japan since the creation of the business in 1988. There are many shopping opportunities on QETJ tours, but the true aim is an educational one: to gain an in-depth cultural perspective of Japan through the beauty and history of its indigenous textiles and fabrication methods, both past and present.

The “Japan~uary 2016” tour is a “tried-and-true” repeat of eight near-identical January tours. We’ll visit five cities during our 13 days together. The first four days are devoted to Kyoto, the “old” capital, still the aesthetic hub of Japan and therefore a great place for our study of Japanese textiles to begin. Our introduction to Kyoto starts with a morning of culturally significant sightseeing at three locations. In the afternoon, we explore the Kiyomizu neighborhood of porcelains, local crafts, and delicacies. While in Kyoto, you will also experience a hands-on workshop in Yuzen stencil painting and visit Aizen Kobo, the studio of a world-class Japanese indigo dyer.

We leave Kyoto behind to embark on a three-day journey towards Tokyo. A short train ride brings us to Nagoya, where we then transfer by private motor coach to the town of Arimatsu, the home and heart of Japanese shibori. You will visit the local museum to learn about Japanese tie-dyeing, enjoy a private workshop in this time-honored technique, and explore the local shops and architecture before transferring back to Nagoya for the night. Our second destination is a picturesque lake town resort at the base of Mt. Fuji where you can enjoy bathing in restorative hot spring waters or a long walk before our traditional Japanese evening meal together. The third day is our Silk Day and includes both the Itchiku Kubota Kimono Museum, to learn about the fabrication method known as tsujigahana, and also a small local museum dedicated to the Japanese silk weaving style tsumugi.

The last city on our tour is Tokyo. Our introduction to the “new” capital begins with morning sightseeing in the Asakusa area, to stroll the lovely Sensoji Temple grounds, and wander among the shops filled with crafts and souvenirs. In the afternoon, we’ll visit Amuse Museum to view and touch a collection of vintage hand-made indigo clothing. On another day we’ll explore the delightfully international neighborhood of Azabu, including a stop at Amy Katoh’s Blue & White shop known for hand-stenciled yukata cotton fabric. Our tour comes to a close with two full days Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival, unquestionably the largest quilt show in the world. The quilt show is a shopping mecca, but also a remarkable opportunity to experience a cross-section of the Japanese quilt world. Join Susan for her on-site talk, “The Development of Quilting in Japan,” meet some of Japan’s top sensei, and consider how the Japanese quilting world is like ours—and not!

Feel free to email or call Susan at (570) 522-7480 with your questions pertaining to either tour. Once a group has met the minimum number of 10, participants will receive notice. Participants will also receive a series of pre-departure emails from Susan with information about weather, clothing, money, customs, etc., as well as a list of websites with hotel and contact information and a packet with tourist information and maps.

Quilters Express to Japan Tour Photos

Photo, top: S. Faeder, detail, Shibori Kimono, Designed and Produced by K. Takeda & Co., Ltd., 2015, Arimatsu, Japan