29 Nov 2016

Mukugawa village is located in 1 hour distance from Kyoto main city by car.

We traveled north along Kamo river, one of the main water source for Kyoto city residence. As we go upstream as far as the source of the river, the scenery is gradually changing. The river flows from north to south, and the direction of flow changes at the point of watershed, and flows from south to north, which leads to the Northern sea of Japanese continent.

Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecture

People in Mukugawa village 椋川 is still living subsistent life with nature, plowing their lands, and processing their own foods.

Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecture

"We use straw broom everyday, don't we? The broom get worn-out every year, so we have to make it once a year. When we make new one, we burn old one. We did not have money to buy threads to bind up, hemp or bark of bee tree had been used to make threads"

Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecture

Old ladies often get together to make tebouki (straw brooms), nabeshiki  (pot/pan coasters), shimenawa  (talisman against evil).

They are also teaching local children how to make these handicrafts.

Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecture

First, we have to make the straw soften by using wooden hammer (Kizuchi) and stone (uchiishi).

In old houses, uchiishi stones (striking stone) are embedded in the floor, which is used for beating straw.

Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecturebeating straw on striking stone

Straw Pan Coaster, Nameshiki

After beating straw, make a ring by twisting straws.
Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecture
Then, binding 3 pieces of straws around the ring.
Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecture
Ready!
Bigger ring will be bigger size of nabeshiki, and the amount of straw influences its thickness.
 
 

Straw Broom, Houki 箒

In the afternoon, we learnt how to make straw broom.
Broom is more difficult than pot mats, said an old lady.

The old ladies are very powerful when making straw broom. It indeed requires grip strength.
 
Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecture
If we do not bind the strings very tight, the straw will be fallen off.

The most tedious chore is picking nuigo (spear head of straw) from straw stem.
It took around 1 hour to pick up nuigo for making one small hand broom.

Nabeshiki (pan coaster) and broom are both folk art, what we call "beauty of usage", which are not for selling, but for daily use.

Tools to make these hand works, such as wooden hammer, needle for straw are all beautiful.
 
Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecturemillets grown for making broom
Handiworks are their life.
 
Mukugawa Village people had been making these crafts for so long... They will never forget how to do it.
 
We do not use straw mats or broom everyday to be worn-out in one year, however, my memory gradually fades... I have to make it repeatedly, so that I can make without thinking like breathing.
 
 
Off-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefecture
Clothes made by fuji treeOff-the-beaten kyoto (5) Learning straw work in Mukugawa village, Shiga prefectureFood baskets made of straw

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