Currently, the excellent relationship between Russia and Japan is not necessarily because of political advantages and ties – but because of the curiosity that the two countries share with regard to their cultures. It’s enough that a foundation run by Patokh Chodiev has been able to reach past the borders of both countries to help improve cultural understanding, respect and appreciation. With the help of festivals and the famous Kubota Collection, Japan has been able to expose some of its most promising works and improve international ties.
The Kubota Collection, in particular, is a fascinating story, as it all started with a single piece of fabric in a Tokyo museum in the 1930s and the young man who happened to come across it and appreciate its surreal beauty. Itchiku Kubota found the piece fascinating, enough so that he spent hours just staring at it, wondering how it was possible to dye the cloth in that way. It wasn’t until after he was released from his post during the war that he truly dedicated his life to replicating the process.
The original dying method
The cloth that had caught Itchiku Kubota’s imagination was dyed in a process known as Tsujigahana. It was a dying method that had been popular in the past, but unfortunately, the method itself was not passed down to the younger generations, and so was lost. It meant that if Itchiku wanted to try to revive the process, he would need to do so from scratch. It was much easier said than done, and the amount of blood, sweat and tears that Itchiku put into his craft over the years is a testament to that fact.
The fruits of labour
It took Itchiku Kubota over thirty years of hard work trying to replicate the dying process that the now extinct Tsujigahana had shown him in the Tokyo museum all those years ago. The result was something unexpected; he managed to create a process that closely resembled Tsujigahana but was not an exact copy. Instead, he had used the techniques that he had picked up over the years to come as close to Tsujigahana as possible while putting his spin on the process itself. The result is the lovingly named Itchiku Kubota, and it’s the reason the Kubota Collection is heralded as a masterwork.
The same but different
Itchiku Tsujigahana is a beautiful dying process, the result of a lifetime of hard work. It does enough to honour the original process while having the undeniable stamp of Kubota’s efforts. Unfortunately, the artisan himself passed away before he was able to complete the series that he had been working on ever since he had managed to create his personal method.
Despite Itchiku Kubota’s passing, his collection was toured around the world and met with overwhelming praise. Fortunately, Itchiku had lived to see his masterworks praised, but he was still not able to complete the set. That said, the result is still a sight to behold, and one that has transcended the Japanese borders and entered into modern culture.
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