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On Talking from the Heart

During the two months I lived in the Aizu region, I was impressed by the people’s production of an indigenous cotton, the textiles made from that cotton, and the grand usage cycle generated from that cotton.
The topic of Aizu cotton came up while I was talking to an eighty-year-old woman, who told me about the handcraft she learned from her mother when they were preparing for her wedding. The cycle of cotton began with the cultivating, harvesting, and seeding of the cotton, which was then beaten, spun into yarn, and dyed. Via the many preparation processes involved with weaving, yarn was woven, which was then finally sewn into clothes. After the cotton materials were used as clothing, they were reused as nightgowns or diapers, then as rags. In the end, they were burnt into ashes and strewn about in the fields so that they could help produce the next wave of cotton. I gave plenty of thought to the endless cycle of the cotton, which involved tremendous, minute manual work carried on by the local women for their families for generations, until several decades ago.
The venue of the exhibition, Sanju Hachi Kengura, was the former storehouse of a general store that stored the daily goods purchased from farmers, which were made during the wintertime. As with the Aizu cotton, many of those commodities were elaborately produced with materials that were gifted from nature.

From the voices of the people, I felt the subtleties of their feelings that derived from their routine daily lives, which were interwoven with a variety of local traditional traits. I felt that if I gathered the words that the people spoke from their hearts, I might come closer to them in a holistic sense, like the colorful Aizu cotton cloths that were created through the assembling of yarns of many colors.
Two years have passed since the 3/11 earthquake disasters. I will continue to stay focused on Fukushima and the entire Tohoku region that was forced to change, while also exploring the spirit of the people by being close at their side.