Kyoto Snippets, a blog post by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

kyoto snippets

For the trip of a lifetime, join Okan Arts for a tour to Japan! +more info here

By Patricia Belyea

WAUCONDA WA  Move over Paris. Kyoto is the most romantic city in the world. 

I shouldn’t say that too loudly as I would prefer all the tourists in the world fly to Charles de Gaulle Airport — so I can have Kyoto to myself! 

Golden Pavilion, Kyoto JP

Just back from leading a 12-day Kyoto Textile Adventure, I can report that the weather was sometimes cold for early March. All the same, I really loved walking up through the countless torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine in a petite snow flurry. It was magical!

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto JP

On our first day — Jet Lag Day — we walked to a yuzen-dyeing workshop where we brushed colorful dyes through multiple stencils to create patterns on natural hemp panels.

Yuzen-dyeing workshop in Kyoto JPYuzen-dyeing workshop in Kyoto JP

Visiting a master indigo dyer in the town of Ohara was amazing with all his pots in the ground, as was a botanical dyeing workshop at a nearby farm.

Indigo Master, Ohara JPOhara Kobo, botanical dyeing farm in Ohara JP

On Golden Day, we viewed silk masterpieces woven with metallic threads and experienced a gold foil workshop in the community hall of a local Buddhist temple. Bryan Whitehead, a Japanese textile guru, joined us that day.

Nishijin Asagi Museum, Kyoto JPGold Foil Workshop, Kyoto JPBuddhist Temple, Kyoto JPBryan Whitehead, Japan

A day trip to Arimatsu, the birthplace of shibori, included an awesome workshop with a shibori master and a tootle around the Arimatsu Tie-Dye Museum.

Shibori workshop in Arimatsu, JPArimatsu Tie-Dye Museum, Arimatsu JP

Our tour guide, Yumi, directed us to meditate beside some of the most remarkable gardens in Japan.

Meditation Garden, Kyoto JPMeditation Garden, Tenryuji Buddhist Temple, Japan

For a second time, Okan Arts set up an exclusive flea market event with Lady Mitsuko. The huge array of folk textiles and indigo treasures set everyone’s hearts pounding.

Lady Mitsuko Collection of Indigos and Folk Textiles, Kyoto JP
Lady Mitsuko Collection of antique indigo and folk textiles, Kyoto JP

Making parasols with bamboo frames and washi paper captivated our concentration. As did the silk weaving workshop in the Nishijin district.

Making parasols, Okan Arts tour, Kyoto JP
Silk weaving in the Nishijin district of Kyoto JP

The tour debuted a new workshop—making sashiko coasters with 
Kazue of Sashiko.Lab. That was a winner!

Sashiko.Lab workshop with Okan Arts in Kyoto JP

Sashiko coaster workshop with Sashiko.Lab of Kyoto JP

Our day at Arishiyama included a walk through the atmospheric Bamboo Grove. Some of us ventured to a unique Buddhist temple with 1200 Rakan sculptures — carved by amateurs in the 1980s and 1990s. The little figures looked ancient with their generous coverings of moss.

Bamboo Grove, Arashiyama JPOtagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple, Arishiyama JPOtagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple, Arishiyama JP

For our last workshop, everyone painted hot wax on a fabric project and then dyed their pieces in a dark indigo vat. Geared up in vinyl aprons, rubber gloves, and rain boots added a fashion flare to the dye dunk. 

Roketsu dyeing in Kyoto JPRoketsu dyeing workshop in Kyoto JPRoketsu dyeing in Kyoto JP

With our hotel in the center of Kyoto, we readily wandered historic streets, busy shopping arcades, and riverside pathways. More delights included discovering the secret garden shop, a store with over 1 million buttons, and the Sou Sou cluster of design boutiques.

Ecrin Button Shop, Kyoto JP

The food was fab. I really liked tempura at the rustic lunch restaurant in rural Ohara. The kitchen team perfected a tempura batter made with  rice flour so I could enjoy the traditional Japanese dish completely.

Traditional Japanese lunch in Ohara JP

Now I’m home, re-entering my normal life while enjoying rich memories of Kyoto. And, lucky me! I will be back in Fall 2024 and Early Spring 2025 to lead more quitting and textile tours in Japan.

Okan Arts Tour group photo in the Gion district of Kyoto JP

Interested in Okan Arts tours to Japan? +learn more

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ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.