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Tue, Aug. 14, 2018 Yuki & Oyama: Neighbors with Interwoven Tradition
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Yuki (in Ibaraki Prefecture) and neighboring Oyama (Tochigi Prefecture) are famous throughout Japan as the home of traditional hand-made textiles known as yuki-tsumugi. The techniques for producing the yarn, dyeing it and weaving the fabric date back to ancient times and are unique in Japan. That is why yuki-tsumugi was registered by UNESCO in 2010 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

In the old days, Yuki flourished as a castle town, and many stores and warehouses that were used by the textile wholesalers remain to this day. Some of these historic buildings have been converted into shops and cafes. Meanwhile, Oyama was known for culturing the silkworms that produce the raw silk used for yuki-tsumugi.

Leina Bambino meets with some of the artisans in Yuki who produce textiles. In Oyama, she also visits farmers who grow the local specialty, bottle gourds (kanpyo), which are in peak season from late June through August.

On this edition of Journeys in Japan: meeting the families - the artisans and food producers - who are working to pass down their skills for future generations.

Tourist Information Center (Yuki)
Besides picking up information about tourist sites, visitors can also purchase local products and watch yuki-tsumugi weaving.
Address: 1-1-1 Kokubu-cho, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Tel: +81-(0)296-48-8155
Open: 09:30 AM~5:00 PM (closed Monday)

Oyama Honba yuki-tsumugi Craft Hall (Oyama)
This facility provides information and gives demonstrations of yuki-tsumugi and raw silk. Visitors can try on the fabric here. Souvenir merchandise is also available.
Address: Roble Bldg. 1F, 3-7-1 Chuo-cho, Oyama-shi, Tochigi-ken
Tel: +81-(0)285-32-6477
Open: 10:00 AM~6:00 PM (closed Monday; if a national holiday falls on a Monday, it is closed the following day. Also July and August)
Prior reservations required (excluding June~September)
Tsumugi-no-Yakata (Yuki)
Tsumugi-no-Yakata (Yuki)
This complex of buildings is operated by a producer and wholesaler of yuki-tsumugi textiles, called Okujun.
The yuki-tsumugi Gallery displays 300 examples of yuki-tsumugi inside a house that dates back around 150 years.
The Teori museum demonstrates the history of the textiles, focusing on how they are made. Exhibits include tools and old documents. Admission 200 yen (students 100 yen).
Yuki Sawaya is a store that specializes in kimono and accessories, such as geta (clogs) made from paulownia wood, a traditional local craft.
The Ichi-no-kura gallery and cafe has been set up inside a renovated storehouse. The specialties of the cafe are mulberry tea and sweet dumplings.
Address: 12-2 Yuki, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Tel: +81-(0)296-33-5633
Closed Tuesday.
Kimono Dressing Room Kiraku (Yuki)
Kimono Dressing Room Kiraku (Yuki)
This rental service offers visitors the chance to try on a yuki-tsumugi kimono for walking around the city. It is housed in the Citizens Information Center, a one-minute walk from Yuki Station (North Exit).
Address: 1-1-1 Kokubucho, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Tel: +81-(0)296-34-0421
Open: Saturday & Sunday 10:00 AM~3:00 PM; also weekdays, by prior reservation (except June~August).
Tsumugi-no-Sato (Yuki)
Tsumugi-no-Sato (Yuki)
At this facility, visitors can try their hand at weaving items such as coasters or table centers. The looms are easy to use, even for beginners. It takes about 30 minutes to make a coaster (cotton and silk; 10 cm square) and costs 1,500 yen (+tax).
Address: 2515 Yuki, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Tel: +81-(0)296-32-8002
Open: 10:00 AM~5:00 PM
Akiba Koji Miso (Yuki)
Akiba Koji Miso (Yuki)
This long-established producer makes various styles of miso, using natural fermentation methods passed down from the old days.
Address: 174 Yuki, Yuki-shi, Ibaraki-ken
Tel: +81-(0)296-32-3923
Open: 9:00 AM~6:00 PM (closed Sunday)
Marishitenzuka Biwazuka Ancient Burial Mound Gallery national historic site (Oyama)
Marishitenzuka Biwazuka Ancient Burial Mound Gallery national historic site (Oyama)
Tochigi Prefecture is the site for many large keyhole-shaped burial mounds that date back to the 5th to mid-6th centuries. The largest of these burial mounds, Marishitenzuka and Biwazuka, are thought to have been built as graves for two generations of local rulers. Nearby, there is a cluster of more than 100 smaller burial mounds, the Iizuka Ancient Burial Mound group.
This gallery exhibits clay figures known as Haniwa, as well as other ritual items that were excavated from the burial mounds.
Address: 335 Iizuka, Oyama-shi, Tochigi-ken
Tel: +81-(0)285-24-5501
Admission: free of charge
Open: 9:00 AM~4:30 PM (closed Monday; if a national holiday falls on a Monday, it is closed the following day)
To reach Oyama from Tokyo, it takes about an hour by express train from Ikebukuro Station. From there to Yuki, it's another 10 minutes by local train. By car, the journey takes about an hour and a half, using the expressway.
Travel Log

Traveler: Leina Bambino > More Info


Occupation:TV personality / English teacher

Length of residence in Japan:3 years

Reason:To become an actress/TV personality. For entertainment purposes 

Traveler's Archives:

> Ashikaga and Tochigi:Cultivating nature and tradition

On this journey, I visited the cities of Oyama and Yuki.

In Oyama, I got to see how kanpyo (dried bottle-gourd) is made. I love eating kanpyo, so it was fascinating to witness how much work goes into the process, to create the perfect product we eat. Besides noticing the strong dedication of the farmers, I could also see that cooperation between the family members was the key factor which held everything together.

In Yuki, I observed and experienced the process of making yuki-tsumugi silk fabric, and this helped me understand more deeply how everything is done. Most of all, it also made me realize there is more to it than the task itself. The key to keeping the tradition alive lies in the strong bonds within each family.

In both families, I was touched by their unconditional love for each other, and it has reminded me to value and cherish my loved ones. This opportunity to meet the local people who are keeping their traditions alive was beyond words. This trip helped me gain insight into Japanese culture. But most of all, I was nourished by the abundance of love from the local people throughout this trip.

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