Japanese Arts & Crafts

Since it must now be obvious that I’m interested in Japanese culture, I thought I’d show off a bit of the Japanese art that I myself do.

I once followed calligraphy courses, and went on to even offer workshops for beginners. I’ve had my pieces shown in group and solo exhibits, but I haven’t done much calligraphic painting in the past few years. My apartment is small, and I like to have a large, clear area to work in. It gives better range of motion for brush strokes. Japanese calligraphy isn’t only about painting strokes on paper or spelling out an alphabet. It traditionally uses breathing techniques, proper posture, and visual ‘harmony lines’ on the picture plane.


Would anyone reading this be interested if I would dig up some of my more recent work? (It still dates back about 4-5 years, but it’s the most recent I have). I have it digitized, but never got around to posting it anywhere online. Your thoughts?


I also do Kumihimo. This is a traditional braiding technique that can be turned into various things, such as drawstrings, tassels, jewelry, edging for embroidery, and so on. I generally do it as a meditative craft, and turn the braids into bracelets.


If you’re familiar with corking, it is a somewhat similar technique, but using the fingers instead of a tool to move the threads along. Instead of a spool, kumihimo uses a ‘marudai’ (the flat round piece pictured above with the heart decoration.


Why I’m posting about this is that I’ve been looking for activities I might be able to occupy myself with while on the freighter ship. I once made the mistake of bringing a knitting project across the border into the USA. Standing in line at customs, I read signage and notices on the walls out of boredom. There was a note about items considered weapons that would not be allowed through upon inspection. One of them was knitting needles! I was pretty stunned, but mostly embarrassed and worried that the customs agents ransacking the Greyhound might find my ‘weapon’. Luckily they didn’t, or gave it a pass. However, I won’t soon be traveling with anything that might be mistaken for a weapon. Kumihimo would only require a pair of scissors once I’m ready to remove the finished braid from the marudai. This can be done once I arrive at my destination.

Embroidery threads

It’s a perfect Zen pastime, doesn’t require much space in my luggage, and I thought it would make cute parting gifts if I wanted to thank my hosts, new friends, or helpers once I leave Japan. And look at all the pretty colors I have at my disposal!


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