Notes from a recent trip to Japan about Japanese linen, noren and the importance of tea drinking.
In April, I travelled to Japan to see the sakura in blossom. The trip was short, mad and awe-inspiring. What I brought back were unforgettable experiences, some handmade pottery to go with the Kyoto matcha tea and rolls of exquisite linen that I recently turned into an artwork.
Undyed Japanese linen has is an understated beauty. It has a simple, open weave and is highly tactile. It is often used to make noren, which are traditional interior divider panels. Those still hang in front of many doors in Japan.
Ceremonies, large and small, are an important part of Japanese life. Tea making, morning meditation, cleaning, cooking, even breathing… Through these daily rituals, I learnt, come the appreciation of life’s subtleties and the opportunity to slow down, pause and observe our surroundings.
The Japanese people have special relationship with nature and their surrounding. They shape it, trim and prune it, keeping the perfect balance of symmetry, hand-made elegance and natural spontaneity.
The natural elements – a power beyond human control – are also a popular theme in traditional Japanese visual art.
There is a view that art is about dissecting life into a multitude of moments to preserve them in our memories as well as in still imagery. This thought is close to the belief that a human mind that finds peace can conquer time – otherwise fluid and intangible.
There are many paths to reaching the state of a super-mind, one of them lays at the bottom of a matcha tea cup.
Images credits - Tanya Vacarda @ Vacarda Design.