Welcome to the final blog post in a 3 part series featuring all things textiles in Japan. Well, not all things textiles in Japan, just what I saw in Japan this year. Part 1 (Fabric Shopping Guide: Kyoto), and 2 (Fabric Shopping Guide: Tokyo) where all about buying textiles. Part 3 dives deeper into the history of fabric, in particular- silk!
The Silk Museum is located in Yokohama, Japan. From Tokyo, you can take the Fukutoshin line from Shinjuku-sanchome station to Nihon-odori station in Yokohama. This is a 54 min train ride, than about a 3 minite walk to the museum.
Cost of entry is 500 yen for adults. That about $6 CAD to learn all about silk. You cannot go wrong!
The Silk Museum is comprised of 3 main sections. The Wonder Farm and The Study Library are located on the main floor, and The History of Silk is located on the second floor. The museum is set-up with a lovely flow to allow you to guide yourself through the sections of the museum.
You begin in The Wonder Farm, which provides you with an introduction to the life stages of a silk warm.
Traditional rotary cocooning frame pictured above.
The following two photos show the process of reeling silk from cocoons. If you look closely, you can see the many filaments coming out of the bath of cocoons being pulled up and spun into silk thread.
The second area of the museum is The Study Library. The main focus in this section is displaying how silk is used in our everyday lives.
According to one of the areas in the exhibit, "the length of the filament making up a single cocoon is an average of about 1,300 meters". A single necktie requires 140 cocoons! Something to thing about the next time you make or purchase a silk necktie.
In addition to learning how silk is used in our everyday lives, this section also showed what silk fabric looked like when using natural dye methods. Visually, this was really stunning to look at!
The final area of the museum is The History of Silk located on the entire second floor. I really appreciate the way the museum is curated. As you walk up the steps to the second floor, you have already learned about the life cycle of a cocoon, and how silk is used in our everyday lives. You are now presented with the Kimono in many forms from different periods of historical Japan. There are displays of kimono's from the Asuka, Nara, Muromachi, Momoyama, Edo, Meiji and Taisho periods.
Above left displays a noble woman from the Nara period. Above right displays a typical outfit worn by an upper class warrior women during the Edo period.
Below was a really striking display of kabuki theater costumes. Traditionally, actors wore elaborate costume and make up. This is so on point! Please excuse the glass glare. It is more stunning in person, so be sure to check it out for yourself.
In addition to The Silk Museum, be sure to walk across the street over to the Yokohama Bay pier. Take a stroll around the bay and take in the stunning views. If you are lucky you can catch the sight of massive cruise ships docking at the main terminal. Continue your stroll along the pier towards the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse for picture worthy spots. This area has been the backdrop to many Japanese movies and tv shows. If you have ever watched Good Morning Call, this is where Nao gets stood up by her temperamental boyfriend Uehara in the pouring rain.
I visited The Silk Museum close to the end of my trip. It was really nice to get my learn on after buying hoards of fabric in Kyoto and Tokyo. It reminded me of intensive extraction required in one of my favorite textiles to design with. It also reminded me to treat all textiles with great love and attention.
Stay tuned for a fabric haul video, as I picked up over 15 different fabrics over the course of the entire trip. Follow us on Instagram to know when that drops.
Designed, photographed and written by Sheila Wong Studios