Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tosa Masters - Takeshi Yoshikawa (The Dyed Goods Craftsman from Konan City)

He says the most difficult brushwork for the face is the nose.
   Around the time of Children’s Day (May 5th), originally a celebration of the birth and growth of boys, large furafu flags decorate Kochi’s skies in addition to the traditional koinobori carp-shaped banners. Takeshi Yoshikawa, a Tosa Master of dyed goods, says that, “One of the draws of furafu is the feeling of bravery one gets when they see a furafu swimming in the sky.”
 
   Yoshikawa, who makes furafu flags, nobori banners, and tosa-dako kites as a fifth generation owner of his family business Studio Yoshikawa, has been helping make furafu since he was a child. He started with washing furafu (which can take 1 hour per furafu!), and gradually moved on to painting colors. However, his young self didn’t enjoy the intensive labor, and his father explicitly asked him to succeed him in the family business, so he sought employment at a semi-governmental corporation in Kagawa Prefecture after graduating college. Then one day, while visiting home, Yoshikawa saw the happiness of a customer who ordered a furafu, and realized that he wanted to do a job where his personal efforts could directly make others happy. That’s when he decided to carry on his family’s craft.

   Yoshikawa learned his dyeing techniques not from the teachings of those before him, but from observing and helping out from a young age.
 
   His father once said, "There's a difference between boldness and messiness." Yoshikawa takes these words to heart because his art helps celebrate the birth of children. He produces works carefully so that there is no splattering or uneven coloring, and these days he pays particularly close attention to color balance.
 
   Dyeing involves brushes small and large, and all work is done by hand while blending the dyes. The color and tautness of cloth can vary with humidity, so sometimes Yoshikawa works with both the heater and cooler on simultaneously.
 
Yoshikawa started
making furafu
for girls after he
made one
for his own daughter.
   Yoshikawa want s to make customers happy with his products, so he feels great joy when he receives an order from a new customer through referrals. He has also recently received orders from people outside of Kochi Prefecture who saw furafu during the Yosakoi Festival.
 
   Most people think of furafu as large flags with pictures of Kintaro or warriors painted on them that stand out from a distance, but Yoshikawa has also started making tapestries and furafu for girls. Furafu for boys are strong and powerful, while the furafu for girls are gentle with bright colors.
 
   Yoshikawa is also the only producer of tosa-dako kites left in the prefecture. Tosa-dako are characterized by being flown with a corner facing up, and they are said to have been used by the Chosokabe Clan during the Warring States Period to measure the distance to enemy castles. You can also frame tosa-dako and enjoy them as indoor decorations.
 
   Lastly, we asked him about what he wants to accomplish in the future. He told us, “I want to continue creating works for indoors. I feel like there’s a lot I can still do, so I want to explore that.” Maintaining tradition while striving for new innovation-Yoshikawa exudes a true craftsman’s spirit.
Vividly colored indoor tosa-dako.
 

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