THE DAILY YOMIURI に掲載されました。 [2009年05月20日(Wed)]

タイの津波のさをり織りの記事が英字新聞「THE DAILY YOMIURI」に掲載されました。
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http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20090520TDY04303.htm

Japanese-style textiles boost tsunami-hit region
Kunihiko Miura / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

Two Japanese are promoting a reconstruction project for parts of Thailand hit by the 2004 tsunami through sales of fabrics produced by local people using the Japanese method of saori-ori weaving.

The saori-ori fabrics created by people in the tsunami-affected area are available for purchase at an exhibition in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. They also were sold at an open-air stall during the Thai Festival held at the weekend at Yoyogi Park in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

The two are Takashi Higashiyama, 42, who lives in Shinjuku Ward, and Mitsuo Shibahashi, 58, who lives in Thailand and has a local name, Ajahn Mitsuo Gavesako. Shibahashi also is resident priest of a local Buddhist temple.

Saori-ori is a contemporary weaving method first adopted in 1968 by a Japanese woman for weaving fabrics freely, with no fixed design or pattern to follow.

In Japan, the saori-ori weaving method is widely used at vocational centers for disabled people.

In 1971, Shibahashi quit his job with a petroleum company and traveled abroad to “search for the meaning of life.”

Shibahashi, who became a Buddhist priest in Thailand in 1974, established his own temple in 1990 in Kanchanaburi, western Thailand. He believed that saori-ori weaving could have a therapeutic effect for weavers as it is relatively simple and there are no patterns they have to follow.

In 2003, he purchased 10 weaving looms for his temple, but the tsunami hit soon after. Shibahashi decided to visit the region and see for himself how people’s lives had been completely devastated by the disaster.

He set up a temporary weaving center at a tent in a refugee camp using the looms from his temple in the hope that weaving would help ease the mental anguish local people had been through, and give them something new to focus on.

Since then, with support from the Japanese Embassy in Thailand, the weaving center has been remodeled and is now a concrete building called Saori Training Center. It currently has more looms and about 40 people working there.

Even before joining the project, Higashiyama said he realized the importance of long-term reconstruction projects for disaster-hit areas as he was living in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, when the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake hit.

He said the company he worked for at the time was badly affected by the earthquake, and he decided to leave the firm before leaving the city and starting a career as a video artist.

Higashiyama visited Thailand in 2004–six months after the tsunami hit the region–in the hopes of “helping share local people’s lives” through a documentary.

It was there he learned about the saori-ori project. “I was moved when I saw people in the disaster-affected area happily weaving fabrics on looms,” Higashiyama said.

Since then, he has been involved in fair trade activities aimed at improving the lives of the tsunami-affected people by importing and selling saori-ori products in Japan.

The exhibition under way in Tokyo was organized by various organizations, including a foundation Shibahashi established and a nonprofit organization providing psychological care for children who were orphaned by the tsunami.

At the venue, colorful saori-ori products–including bags and pouches produced by women who lost their husbands in the disaster–are on display and for sale.

“Saori-ori

are an important source of income for people in the tsunami-hit area, but it’s hard for them to make enough to support everyone living there,” Higashiyama said. “I hope this exhibition will help more people see the beauty of [saori-ori] fabrics.”

The exhibition is being held at the CCAA Art Plaza in Shinjuku Ward. Admission is 200 yen, and is free for children in middle school or younger.

(May. 20, 2009)

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