My time in Japan was such a whirlwind that, despite my best intentions, I am just getting the chance to write about my experiences now that I’m back in the States.
For the first 10 days of my time there Fujino was my home away from home. And what a home it was!
Our group of 10 “Indigo Otters,” coming from California, New York, Texas, Russia, Australia, and our contingent of two from Wisconsin, met each other at a hotel in Tokyo and got to know each other as we traveled with Bryan by subway and train to Fujino, about an hour west of Tokyo. For the last leg of our journey we traveled by car through the twisting mountain roads to Bryan’s beautiful home, surrounded by terraced tea plantations, gardens, rivers and streams.
This 200-year-old silk barn has been skillfully reclaimed over the years by Bryan to become a center for the study of traditional Japanese textiles and a comfortable home for his students.
It was cold and rainy for most of our time there, so Bryan’s beautiful bath house out back was my refuge at the end of the day. Like all the other rooms of the house, the dressing room had one of Hiro’s beautiful flower arrangements. After showering you remove the wooden lids from the tub and slip into the hot water of the furo. While soaking you can try to stay awake by watching out the window for a possible sighting of the local monkeys who come looking for ripe persimmons. (I never was lucky enough to see them but some people in our group did.) And then the icing on the cake is to slip into your bed that has been warmed by these incredible Japanese hot water bottles that Bryan had for all of us. It gets filled with very hot water and slipped into its drawstring bag made from recycled wool sweaters. The top gets tucked in with a kitchen towel before the bag is cinched closed and then slipped between your covers. This might be one of the best inventions EVER! That bottle was still warm the next night and I just had to replace about a third of the water every night to keep toasty warm.
For the next 10 days we lived, ate, learned and worked here together, sharing meals, stitching late into the evening, sharing knowledge and resources, dips in the indigo vats and lots of laughs.
Oh, and we survived a typhoon together, too! More on that later….
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