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Ginza Holiday: Visitors Enjoy Good Old Days of Japan

• A big crowd was drawn to Ginza Holiday at the Midwest Buddhist Temple in Chicago’s Oldtown neighhood. The 59th Ginza Holiday took place from August 8 to 10, and the visitors enjoyed the temple’s unique festival food such as teriyaki chicken, sushi, noodles, spam musubi and more.

• Almost every aspect of Japanese culture was exhibited and demonstrated each day at the stage and inside the hall, so the visitors were entertained throughout the festival. On the stage, taiko drumming, kendo, judo, karate, aikido, Japanese classical dances and minyo folk dances, and others were performed. At the inside hall, bonsai plants by renowned Shigeo Ito, sumi-e by Linda Rozmus, ikebana by Misho Kai students, brush painting by Charlotte Fung Miller, Japanese bags and koi paintings by Jack Matsumoto and Amy Tsutsui, Japanese Touch of Glass by Amy Sakoda, and many more art forms were exhibited.

• Ginza Holiday also provides unique shopping opportunities. Kimono dresses, Japanese flavored crafts and ornaments, toys, potteries, and more.
• One of the awaited events was the Wasa Artisan appearances from Japan. This year, kofu (old fabric) craft maker Bibi Ishikawa, Ichimatsu dall maker Meisho Yamasaki, artistic tenugui (Japanese towel) maker Masahiro Kawakami and ceramicist Eiji Kinoshita came to Ginza.

• Nancy Torres, who lives near the temple, brought international guests to Ginza Holiday. Rick Lyddon originally from London and currently lives in Illinois. He said that he missed the spam musubi because it was sold out. “We are going to another festival in Roscoe Village, Chicago,” he added. Margaret Prichard and Gary Fray came from Sydney, Australia.
• Nancy Torres said, “We know about Ginza because it’s here every year and has been going on 59 years.” She also said, “I’ve been to Japan and I loved it,” and talked about her story.
• Torres’s mother was a nurse, a lieutenant, in the Korean war and went to Tokyo when she was on leave. She bought pearls at Mikimoto at that time.
• On her 40th birthday, Torres went to Tokyo because her mother had real Mikimoto pearls. She went to Mikimoto and said, “but you couldn’t find them today.”
• She was fascinated by the beautiful kimono fabrics, but she said, “We were really surprised how expensive they were.” Besides Tokyo, she visited Nara and Kyoto. She saw a Shinto wedding and said, “It was very special. Someday, we’ll have all our children dress in traditional kimono costumes. They are so precious.” “The trip to Japan was one of my favorite trips that I’ve ever been,” she added.

• The Waza Artisans from Japan

• Bibi Ishikawa makes many kinds of ornaments by using kofu, old kimono fabrics from Edo, Meiji, and early Show era. The kofu is one of antique collection artifacts such as kakejiku (hanging scroll) and tea utensil. Ishikawa’s crafts include miniature furniture for dolls, kaishi paper holders, hair pins, hanging ornaments for girl’s day and traditional cerebrating occasions, and many more.
• She said that old kimono fabrics were very artistic. Most of them were silk and finely embroidered, but they were deteriorated by moth and stains, so the good parts of the kimono were cut and sold to collectors.

• She started to make the ornaments when her elder sister collected old Ichimatsu dolls from Edo and Meiji eras. When she saw the old dolls, she wanted to make new kimono for them, but only kimono fabric from those eras could fit the dolls. She made kimono by using kofu and pondered what she could do with the leftover fabrics.
• She broke down a kaishi paper holder and analyzed its structure then made it for the dolls by using the leftovers. The holders were welcomed by doll lovers and sold well.
• Ishikawa said, “I’m very pleased to see 200-year-old fabrics revive as new ornaments.”

• Meisho Yamasaki was making figures in Tokyo such as kaiju, human body models, Pokemon like mascot characters after she graduated from art high school in Kyoto where she majored sculpture.

• She happened to read a book about doll’s kimono making published by Ishikawa’s sister and was fascinated by Ichimatsu dolls and their kimono. Six month later, she visited the doll museum and met Ishikawa, who introduced her to a doll making class taught by Master Kokan Fujimura.

• Fujimura soon recognized Meisho’s skills and accepted her apprenticeship. She needed to learn about traditional doll making materials, which required her four years to master. She became an independent Ichimatsu doll maker with the name of Meisho about five years ago.
• Meisho Yamasaki said, “When I look back on my career, everything I studied and worked was to become a doll maker although I sometimes went in different directions. The number of doll making houses in Japan is less than 10, but outsiders like me have been trained.”

• The furll story is available in the Chicago Shimpo’s 2014, September 12th iss


Bibi Ishikawa, Kofu (antique kimono fabric) artist


Meisho Yamasaki, Ichimatsu doll maker


Ceramicist Eiji Kinoshita



Shigeo Ito, bonsai artist


Bibi Ishikawa’s handmade crafts by using kofu, old kimono clothes


MBT's special chicken teriyaki


From left, Nancy Torres, Margaret Prichard, Gary Flay, and Rick Lyddon