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Cultural Event Retro is New in Japan in Naperville

A Japanese cultural event “Retro is New in Japan” was held on February 12 at Naperville Women’s Club. A variety of antiques and collectibles, which were reminiscent of the old city Kyoto, were exhibited in the hall including ceramic arts, kimono dresses, woodworks, and urushi lacquer arts.
There was a martial arts demonstration by the Aikido Association of America at the Japanese Culture Center in Chicago, ikebana demonstration by Annika Au of the Ohara-Ryu School, as well as a cup of maccha-green tea which was served upon request.
There were also an origami workshop and silent auction. The visitors enjoyed making their own onigiri (rice ball) with nori, furikake, and pickles.

The event was organized by Motoko Izume, a resident of Naperville, with a help of kimono dresser Kaoru Son, Professor Fukumi Matsubara at the North Central College, the students at the Benedictine College, and Japanese women residing in the Naperville area.

The organizer Motoko Izumi said, “Many Japanese people live in Naperville, but I felt that only a few adult Japanese have been introducing Japanese culture and its charms. So I wanted to do what I can do to introduce Japanese culture to the people in Naperville.”
Izumi worked in a company for a long time and never thought about the Japanese community during that period. After she left the company, however, she began to think about it. She opened “Artezanato Studio Craft Gallery” last August in downtown Naperville and has been introducing Japanese and world art crafts which are useful in daily life.
She majored in the Portuguese language in her college and became familiar with cultures in Portugal, Brazil, Spain, and other countries. She is going to reach out the people with the background from those countries and introduce Japanese culture while introducing their cultures to Japanese people.

Artezanato Studio Craft Gallery
231 S. Washington St. Suite 105
Naperville, IL 60540
http://artezanatostudio.com

Two special guests from Japan for the event “Retro is New in Japan” were Takaaki Saida, Kyo-garden lantern artist, and Sachi Manabe, yuzen kimono artist. They are the members of the Kyoto Craftsman Studio and have looked for exchange opportunities with the people in the U.S. to introduce genuine works of stone lanterns and the art of yuzen kimono.

Stone Lantern Artist
Takaaki Saida

Takaaki Saida is the fifth generation of the Stonesmith Saida Sekizai, which was established in 1902. With his 17 years of a stone-related career, he is a certified first class stone sculptor. While he makes traditional types of Kyo-garden lanterns, so-called toro in Japanese, he also makes creative stone arts. This time, he brought a wine cooler to the event.
Saida said that the most difficult work of the lantern was not to break delicate parts of the stone. It takes one to two months to complete a stone lantern. When he was a beginner, he broke some sensitive parts of a lantern, which was almost completed.
He said that only two or three stonesmiths have remained and are making all stone lanterns in Japan.

The old toro lanterns or torii gates usually have an anecdote. Once upon a time, there was a mountain trail leading to a big temple Myokensan, and toro lanterns and torii gates were placed as signs for visitors. They are still standing on the path today. One of the torii gates is huge. It is about 16 feet tall. The engraved letters on the torii revealed that it was crafted by Saida in 1902.
Saida V said, “Receiving orders from Myokensan was a very big honor to the Saida family, and the records have remained there. I think that my family started stonesmithing before 1902, but we don’t have any record of the year, so we can only say that Saida Sekizai was established in 1902.”

Saida and Manabe visited the Anderson Gardens in Rockford and met the Andersons. They were invited to the gardens’ Japan festival in August to introduce stone lanterns, yuzen kimono and many other things. Saida was pleased to find a connection to the gardens and said, “I’m excited about it. I’ll bring the members from Kyoto Craftsman Studio.”
Saida’s works are available at www.saidasekizai.com.

Yuzen kimono artist
Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe works on design, drawing, painting, and dyeing in yuzen kimono or obi making by using her own hands. She majored in Western arts in her college, but was attracted to the yuzen. She said that the reason was the beauty of colors and availability of precise patterns on the fabric. After a period of apprenticeship under a yuzen master, she became a yuzen artist.
In her studio, she has face to face meetings with her customers. Listening to a customer’s preference repeatedly, she designs a kimono or obi. The process usually takes two months or more.

Manabe said, “Once a customer orders a yuzen kimono, she doesn’t have to order one for years. That’s why the market is small and it’s difficult to foresee the future economic conditions. So we have tried to develop new products and participate in events like this.”
Her designed Yuzen are showcased at www.manabesachi.com.


Takaaki Saida

Sachi Manabe