The Samoe

I am playing catch up with posting things from back in June in Japan.  Life gets busy....

While at the International Moku Hanga Conference in Kyoto, several of us noted that the Japanese printers and carvers where wearing a really nice "smock" while they worked.  Because I was staying longer after the conference I decided to see if I could find one for myself and another printmaker who wanted one.

I looked in several shops but I didn't even know what it was called so had a hard time locating one. 
Takiyuki and Tomoko
When I got to Higashiomi I was very fortunate to stay with 2 artists, Tomoko and Takiyuki, in their family home for 3 days.  They were gracious enough to take me to many sights in the area including Hikone Castle, Shigaraki, and several waterfalls.
I asked Tomoko if she might know of a shop where I could find one of these smocks.  "Oh!  You want a samoe."  She took a long time thinking about it and then said I need to go see the seamstress. I would not find one of good quality in a shop. She proceeded to make a phone call and set up an appointment.
We set out thru the narrow streets and alleys until we came to the home of the seamstress. 
Let me just insert here that I had noticed thru my time in Japan that I was not just taller than most women but I was an Amazon!  I've never been, let's say, petite.  Here I was huge! 
I was still surprised when the first words out of the seamstress's mouth when she saw me were, "So BIG!!!"
You can see by the pictures that I towered over her!  I had to bend down just so she could take measurements and hold the tape measure for her at my neck!  There was a whole conversation going on that I didn't understand but got that she was not used to sewing for someone of my size.  A lot of laughter between us all!  Now I understood why I wouldn't find one of "good quality" in a shop.  She knew I'd never find one that fit me!

My height wasn't the only issue.  The other problem was that the other printmaker who wanted a samoe was a man. More laughter when trying to explain that one!
Tomoko told her that she would select fabric for me and deliver it to her.  And so, weeks after I was home, I heard from Tomoko that she had picked out fabric and our samoe's was being made.  Not long after that a package arrived in the mail and here was my very own samoe, made to order and perfectly fit just for me! 
Made with Japanese indigo I wear it with a grateful heart when I am printing and remember the fun of going to this very brave seamstress's home with Tomoko!

Wearing my new samoe to work!


coach Julio said...

Love it, great pictures, an apron to treasure and remember the trip...thanks for sharing.

Terry Peart said...

Wonderful story. And I love the fabric she picked for you.