Yuki City Gallery of Traditional Arts and Crafts
A full immersion weaving experience.
Set in amidst farm fields that fill the fertile plain around the Kinu River, the Gallery of Traditional Arts and Crafts is one of the few places where the techniques for making yuki tsumugi (hand-woven silk) is still taught and practiced. Visitors will find a working model of a traditional weaving house where it is possible to witness the full transformation of flossy silk to thread and finally cloth.
Floor to ceiling windows let in plenty of natural light for those seated at the jibata (back tension loom) or spinning thread on one of two raised tatami areas. Teachers and students work together, the only sound the clack of wood as the shuttle moves back and forth or the soft squeak of the silk fibers as they are pulled gently but firmly from the flossy silk.
Nearby, a man carefully applies dye to light colored thread in a measured pattern to both the warp and weft threads. Another man sits cross-legged before a full length of darker threads, tying knots using a cotton fibre held in his mouth. When dyed, the cotton will shrink tight onto the silk thread and thus block the dye from penetrating beneath.
Friendly teachers fasten a waist belt around students-for-the-day as they settle into the seat at the jibata and reminds them not to slouch as the belt holds the tension in the warp. Then begins what at first feels like an impossibly complicated and strange dance of arms and legs and filaments of brightly colored silk thread. By the end, after plenty of laughter and more gentle rebukes, a colorful coaster or placemat emerges. It is, if nothing else, a whole body workout with a creative benefit.