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

by Chisato

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

29 Nov 2016


National Certified Guide

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Contact Chisato

Hello. I am Chisato originally from Kyoto.

I completed master degree of organic agriculture in the Netherlands in 2011.
Especially, my specialization is agriculture, anthropology and food culture.
I often travel around rural villages in japan for my research on traditional knowledge, ethnobotany and local cuisine, "kyodo ryori".

My style of guiding is "experience the local communities"; visiting the ingredients where it grows, listening to the stories of local life, where generations have lived.

I try my best to organize a trip with unique experience for you in the off-the-beaten rural villages, especially in Kyoto and Nara. Please let me know your special interests, and I will suggest your trip schedule, such as cooking with locals, visit farmers, or stay at a farmhouse.

Please note that I am not that familiar with typical tourist places like Fushimi inari, Kinkakuji, Kiyomizu temple, my specialty is rural tradition and people's livelihood rather than building.


Example Theme:
- tea tour (harvesting and processing tea, tea house, matcha poder making, tea museum in Kyoto)
- traditional handicrafts (visit workshops, pottery making experience, kiln in hidden valley)
- culinary experience (food processing workshop such as tofu, soba, yuba, somen noodle, traditional knowledge of food preservation)
- fermented food products (learning how to make sake, shoyu, miso, amazake, pickle, nattou, umeboshi by yourself)
- plant and ethno-ecology (sansai wild plant harvesting and cooking)
- learning rural livelihood (charcoal making, weaving trees, paper making from mulberry plant, silk worm, visit to temple of plant medicine)
- temple stay (meditation, shojin ryori at mount koya)


IMPORTANT:
Please inquire at least 1 month before the tour departure date, when it is totally customized tour.
Please note that spring (March-April) and autumn (Septenmer-October) are peak travelling season in Japan, and it may not possible to offer special interest tours.
I recommend to reserve accommodations at least 2 months before your travel (half year before during peak travelling season).

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