After telling anyone that wanted to listen that I was dying to visit Kanzawa, (dyeing to?!? hahaha) I finally made it there last week. I was especially interested since learning that Kanazawa is home to a particular style of yuzen dyeing called Kaga Yuzen. (Kaga is the historic name of the region) From what I saw in books, I felt the Kaga style had some parallels to my own work so I really wanted to go and see it in real life.
長ーい間、金沢に行ってみたいと言っていた私はやっと行ってきました!金沢には「加賀友禅」という友禅技法があると知っていた以来は本物をすごく見に行きたかったです。

I managed to visit two different studios making dyed work in the Kaga-yuzen technique. The main one was Maida Yuzen, thanks to my teachers’ connections. The current head of the Maida studio is acclaimed dyer Maida Kenji, and I was shown around the atelier by his son and assistant dyer, Maida Hitoshi. (check out their nice website, lots of pictures)

 

「やまあい」訪問着、毎田友禅 Maida Yuzen’s Homongi Kimono, Yama-ai Motif (a kind of plant that produces an indigo colour)


田染画工芸工房にて
加賀友禅工房を二つにも行けました。一つ目は先生のつながりのおかげで行けた所だけど、もう一つは偶然通った工房でした。先に金沢にある「毎田染画工芸」という加賀友禅の工房を見学させてもらいました。加賀友禅の世界では有名である毎田健治氏の工房で、息子・弟子の毎田仁嗣さんに工房の説明をもらいました。

毎田染画工芸。三人も同じ着物に色差しをしていました。 At Maida Yuzen. Here, 3 dyers were working on filling in the detailed dyed areas on the one kimono. (split into two long lengths of fabric)

In the true Japanese spirit of having regional specialties that are only slightly different to each other (to the untrained eye?), comparisons are often drawn between Kyoto style yuzen and Kaga Yuzen even though both were borne of the innovations made by former Kyoto resident and fan painter, Miyazaki Yuzensai.

「似ていますが、地方によると少し違う」という、日本人が大好きな概念の通り、京都友禅と加賀友禅がいくつかの点では異なっていると言われています。両方は京都の祇園に住んでいた宮崎友禅斎という扇子画家による作られた技法から始まっているんですが。

Example of Kaga style Yuzen at Maida Studio. The flowers are quite realistic and painterly. 毎田工房での「加賀友禅」の例。花や葉っぱが割と絵画的ですね。
Example of Kyoto style Yuzen (Kyo-yuzen) by well-known Kyoto company Chiso. You can see its very patterned and decorative. 京友禅の「千總」の振袖。模様的で鮮やかな感じですね。

Kaga Yuzen is said to be elegant and chic as opposed to the sometimes gaudy, over embellished Kyoto yuzen. Kaga style yuzen predominantly uses patterns based on realistic and painterly depictions of flowers, plants and birds etc. The painterly effects are achieved with delicate shading which traditionally goes from light at the centre of flowers to dark at the petal tips, whereas in Kyoto (how’s this for too much information?) the motifs are paler towards the edges. They also like to say there are ‘6 colours of Kaga’ : Indigo blue, deep rouge red, chrome yellow, grass green and royal purple. Anyway, it’s all part of the marketing surrounding Kaga Yuzen.
加賀友禅というのは、落ち着いていて粋なスタイルで、主に写実的な花草をモチーフにしているものです。それと、丁寧なぼかしで絵画的な表現であり、いわゆる「加賀五彩」(臙脂・藍・黄土・草・古代紫の五色)で構成されていると言われています。

Another example of Kaga Yuzen, here a black formal tomesode with patterning only around the hem by Maida Kenji. 加賀友禅の黒留袖。毎田健治の作品です。

I’m not really into drawing such clear divisive lines between techniques because they are all complementary but I was impressed by the Kaga-yuzen use of colours which you don’t see in Kyoto yuzen. Maybe it’s because of the above “Kaga colours” but Maida studio was using quite deep blues and purples and greens alongside more familiar pale gradients. They were also mixing gofun (white chalk powder) into their dyes as well as using it on its own to achieve matte pastel colours that really sing and flat bright white sections. 

染色の中で技法は重なったりするから、技法はを堅く分けるのがあんまり好きじゃないけれども、確かに京友禅に見えない色合いは素敵でした。「加賀五彩」という概念の影響かどうかはわからないですが、毎田友禅では、馴染みがある暈した薄い色と一緒にかなり濃い青・緑・紫などを使っていました。それと、染料に胡粉を入れる又は樹脂と混ぜるだけで使って、パステルカラー、鮮やかな色やマットの白ができます。

 
detail of Furisode (long sleeved) kimono by Maida Kenji. very vivid colours! you can also see the use of white on some of the petals. 毎田健治の振袖の部分。鮮やかな色!胡粉で白くした花びらも見えますね。

Hem section of a furisode by Maida Kenji 毎田健治の振袖

Another thing that stood out (and I’m not sure if this is unique to Maida Yuzen or if it is a Kaga-yuzen trademark) was the clever use of texture to give the design depth and interest. The way I understood it from Hitoshi’s explanation was that they dye one colour, then apply small dots/texture with thinned down resist paste, then when that is dry they dye over it again with a deeper colour or a slightly different tone. The result is a duotone speckled effect that can be as subtle or bold as you choose. 薄めた糊を染めたところにおいて、そのうえにまた濃いかちょっと違う色を塗ると、面白いテキスチャを作るというやり方も面白かった。これは加賀友禅の特徴か毎田さんのところに独特かどうかはわかりませんが。

you can see some of the speckled effect on the paler blue petals. This is taken while the paste is still on the fabric, once washed the speckled effect is more dramatic. 糊はまだ付いているけど、洗うとテキスチャがもっと目立ちます。

Unlike Kyoto-style yuzen that uses quite decorative patterns and pretty typical traditional motifs, the kimono (but also panels and some small things) I saw were mostly depicting flowers and birds: dyed artistically but also with botanical accuracy. The depictions of birds were of course of particular interest to me. There weren’t any bird motifs being worked on when I was at Maida’s studio but there are some great depictions of birds in other Kaga yuzen pieces. 京友禅の伝統的なモチーフや装飾的な感じに対して、加賀友禅では、花・草・鳥などは生き写しとは言えないが、かなり自然に近いように描かれています。私は(もちろん!)特に加賀友禅での鳥の描写に興味があります。見学のとき、鳥のモチーフは染めていなかったが、他の加賀友禅には素敵な例が見えます。




detail of a hanging piece by Teranishi Ikkou 寺西一紘の作品
Lively depiction of cranes on a hanayome noren: Bridal Curtain. 花嫁のれんの生き生きしてい鶴たちhttp://kd-rinya.com/noren/

It was a nice little trip to Kanazawa to see Kaga-yuzen up close. It makes you realise that despite the efforts to define Kaga yuzen as very different from Kyoto yuzen they are fundamentally very similar. I think using a combination of both styles, stradling the border line would really give you scope to create some amazing work. Also, seeing the way that Kaga yuzen artists value drawing from life, realistic depiction and delicate shading gives me confidence that my own approach to yuzen is legitimate and also inspires me to rely even more on drawing from observation.  That’s really the only way to create something that feels lively and authentic. And on that note, I’m off to sketch for my next work!!
金沢に行って加賀友禅を目の前に見えてよかったです。京友禅と加賀友禅を別のものにする努力があるのに、実は基本的に同じ技法だということを気づきました。両方の特徴を生かして、間ぐらいで制作したら素敵なものが作れるのだと思いました。
それで、加賀友禅の作家がスケッチ、現実的な描写、丁寧なぼかしを重視することに、自分の作品にも自信を吹き込んでくれました。これから、もっと写生したいと思いました。生き生きとした作品にしたいなら、写生に頼るしかないのではないでしょうか?それでは、次の作品のスケッチをしにいきます!!