Here's the next round, of sorts, of articles that I've written: one was the interview of the minor-league pitcher, the next is an article on the Gion Matsuri I went to, and the last on is on the kagayuzen kimono dyer I went to visit. I've also been requested to provide a translation of one of the articles, so I'm going to translate this last one for you here, albeit very roughly:
[The one thing I like most about Japan is its "harmonious contradictions." Traditional and modern things are often mixed together in interesting ways. In Kanazawa's 3-choume, I went to visit Mr. Masanobu Ota's studio, Bunan, where he spoke to me about his work combining the traditional "kagayuzen" dying technique with his own modern twist.
Kagayuzen is very difficult and requires a lot of time. First, a base design is drawn in a blue, washable ink made naturally from flowers. Then, on top of that design, a paste made from rice is squeezed out from a tiny tip and is traced over the base drawing. Within those lines, a base color is applied little-by-little with small brush strokes. Finally, in order to make the drawing seem natural and with depth a gradient color is applied over the base color.
I was fortunate enough to get to try applying color to a practice design. A very small leaf took nearly five minutes to fill in. An entire kimono would easily take many months, and it is definitely a form of "wearable art." After trying for myself, a feeling of "ah, I also want to design something as beautiful as this" came to mind.
Foreigners and young people naturally think this form of dying is beautiful, but there isn't much opportunity for either group to wear a traditional kimono. In order to increase interest in kagayuzen, Mr. Ota is putting his traditional designs on modern. objects: coasters, iPhone stickers, and converse. In order to protect the traditions of kagayuzen, he is increasing its scope through modern, easily usable objects.
Thanks to a "global culture" and international cultural exchange many convenient and good things have come about, but there are also some downsides. For example, wherever you go in the world the same brands and stores crop up. Everyone wears the same clothes, listens to the same music, and eats the same food--experience becomes muddles and traditions fall to the side.
Japan however has managed to protect its traditions. Japanese shrines, temples, and traditional crafts are still present. More than other countries, I'd rather return to Japan because it is still unique. Its harmony of the traditional and the modern is what I find to be the most beautiful. ]
If the English sounds awkward it's because I was trying to stay as true to the Japanese as possible, without adding too much information.
And there I am looking serene and traditional, myself.