Pink or yellow flower patterns and blue or white geometric designs… ”Sanuki Kagari Temari” is a local toy of Kagawa pref., with colorful threads representing various patterns. Its significant attraction is the heart-warming cuteness uniquely due to hand making.
Today, we interviewed with "Sanuki Kagari Temari Hozon-kai", Temari workshop in Kagawa, for the making process and their commitment to Temari, to get close to its charm. They have an experience course for beginners and tourists, and you can feel the traditional culture by yourself.
What is“Sanuki Kagari Temari”?
”Sanuki Kagari Temari” with various patterns
Kagawa pref. had once been called “Sanuki no Kuni”, well known for its specialties named "Sanuki Sanpaku" (Sanuki's 3 great WHITE) “Sanpaku” means 3 products, cotton, salt and sugar, whose color is used for the name.”Sanuki Kagari Temari” is made by plant-dying cotton thread, one of the "Sanuki Sanpaku".
Cotton Temari had been made in large volumes in those days, but manufacturers have decreased over time, on the road to a decline. In the midst of such a situation, Mr. Kazuo Araki, a prefectural worker, and his wife Ms. Yaeko stood up to hand over the Temari making technique to future generations. They have launched ”Sanuki Kagari Temari Hozon-kai” in 1983, and 4 years later, Sanuki Kagari Temari has been designated as Kagawa’s traditional craftswork.
Sanuki Kagari Temari Hozon-kai is made by renovating the old kindergarten.
Sanuki Kagari Temari Hozon-kai is located in Takamatsu city, about a 6-minute walk from Kawaramachi Station on Kotoden Line. We have interviewed with Ms. Eiko Araki, the current representative of Hozon-kai and traditional craftsmen.
Ms. Araki says, “Traditional craftworks has the image of doing something difficult, and especially young people are hardly interested in it. First of all, I would like to eliminate such an image, letting them know about Sanuki Kagari Temari. I will be very pleased if they feel more familiar with it”.
Ms. Araki holds an exhibition and lecture to make Temari not only in Kagawa but outside of the prefecture for more and more people to learn about it. In addition, her group has various activities, including Temari making & selling as well as regular classes, a course to train professional craftsmen and a one-time experience for tourists. The experience course requires a reservation in advance, and you should visit after checking their official home page.
4 persistences for Sanuki Kagari Temari
First, we asked about 4 persistences of Sanuki Kagari Temari, which Hozon-kai cherishes to hand over the tradition.
1. To use cotton threads.
cotton thread with nice touch and softness
Cotton cultivation technology had been spread in the Edo period. Temari is created using cotton threads just as same as the old days.
2. To dye with plants.
All threads are dyed with plants.
The cotton threads are dyed with plants by the same method of those days when chemical dyes were not available. All natural ingredients are used to avoid any stress on threads, and the dying liquid is used up till the end with no waste.
3. Core made of chaff
The materials of Temari’s core in the Edo period varied by each area from used clothing to Futon cotton. Hozon-kai uses rice chaffs, which is the traditional material.
Ms. Araki is making Temari.
Temari is certainly darned all the way by hand. By darning the geometrical straight patterns along its curved surface, Temari’s unique softness is created.
What is Temari like?
Temari is one of the Japanese traditional cultures with the history of more than 1000 years.Women have handed over various making methods and designs unique to each area.
History of Temari
It is said that “Kemari”(Japanese traditional sport to kick a ball), which the nobility in Heian period had played as their divine ritual, is an origin of Temari. Entering the Edo period, Temari had been made as a girls’ toy and appreciated as a gift or ornament.
In the Meiji era, however, overseas rubber ball had been spread, and Temari, which is made of cotton, had declined. Nowadays, it is produced in limited areas as a craftwork to hand over Japanese history.
How to play with Temari
In those days, the playing style was the same as “Otedama”(bean bag juggling game), to throw Temari high and receive it without dropping it on the ground. Temari had especially been favored to be played as a New Year entertainment.
Making process of Sanuki Kagari Temari
Sanuki Kagari Temari is made all the way by hand. Let us show you the fastidious making process.
To dye cotton threads with plants.
First, colorful “Kagari thread” to darn Temari is to be dyed.
Various plants are used for dyes, such as indigo for blue, “Kariyasu”(Japanese nutmeg tree) for yellow, chestnut burrs and onion skins for other colors! They use seasonal plants if available, and sometimes purchase rare Indian madders, sappanwoods, safflowers and Asen in Chinese herb shops.
Since color pigments are hard to soak into cotton threads used for Temari, threads are processed by dipping into “Gojiru”, soybean squeezing juice before dying.
Then, they are dyed by being repeatedly dipped in 2 kinds of dyes; mixture of plant extract and hot water & dying media to proceed the coloring. Depending on how well they dyed, a 20-minute dip in each liquid is repeated by about 3 times.
To use a bar when dye liquid is hot.
While the temperature of the dye liquid is low, threads are dyed by hand. Since its maximum temperature goes up to 70 °C, 2 wooden bars are used to pull in thread rings to dye them. I tried the process, and actually felt that it was really hard with heavy threads containing dyes.
Various colors are created from one material.
All of these red-colored dyes are made of madder, but the color tones are different depending on its concentration. With no significant difference in the dye starting, color changes slowly from pale pink to deep red over time.
Ms. Araki talks with a smile, “Usually dried plants are used for dying, but we do “Namaba-zome” to use fresh leaves before dried in summer time. Rubbing the fresh leaves, muddy dye like Nalta jute comes out. It is a very tough material with difficulty to get the color out. However, I feel the summer has come, when I do “Namaba-zome”.”.
Even though each dye uses using the same material, the color is different in the few-rain year. The color finishing varies year by year.
There are over 100 colors in darning threads.
In Hozon-kai, lined up were colorful plant-dye threads. I was surprised to see how many shades can be made from one single pink color.
Pretreatment of rice chaff to be the base of Temari
Rice chaff under sun-dry
Rice chaffs are used as the base of Temari. They are boiled once, then sun-dried to kill insects in them, and used for Temari making.
“Our making method is almost the same as one in those days, so I feel like I am time-traveling back to the Edo period when I’m here. “, says a dying craftsman who is called “Senshoku boy” and popular among Hozon-kai members. Though their work needs both power and knowledge, I felt they enjoy it a lot.
Wrapping the chaffs under such special treatment with thin paper and winding it with threads until the paper cannot be seen, the base of Temari finally completes. We can feel the soul of craftsmen in which they try to hand over their tradition even for the non-visible part.
To darn “Jiwarii-sen”, a guiding line to make patterns.
Completing the base, “Jiwarii-sen” is darned as a guiding line to make patterns. Likening Temari as to be the globe, the line going around it from North Pole to South Pole is called the Equator.
<img src="https://s3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com/thegate/2019/11/22/17/28/01/Dodai-temari.JPG" alt="The base of “Jiwarii-sen” />
“Jiwari-sen” is darned by one color.
Partition numbers by “Jiwarii-sen” differ depending on each pattern, and finer the design is, the more complex it becomes. If there are a lot of “Jiwarii-sen”, it is important to darn little by little to avoid displacement. The process from base making to Jiwari is essential in Temari creation. If it is not successfully done, beautiful Temari cannot be completed.
Darning the pattern
Marking Temari with pins with no displacement
Then, pins are put at each point in patterns on base Temari with Jiwari line. When the pins strike the ball, a delightful stabbing sound pierces your ears.
You can experience this process in their beginners’ experience course to enjoy pattern darning.
The key for beautiful darning is to avoid twisting and overlapping threads. For the beautiful pattern making, it is important to darn gently without pulling the threads to strongly.
<img src="https://s3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com/thegate/2019/11/20/10/30/29/Temari.jpg"alt="Darning theTemari" />
Temari is darned in the practiced manner.
”Pentagon or Hexagon trumpet creeper”
Temari is not always completed one by one, but sometimes a few are made at the same time. Some patterned Temari may need 1 month to be finished. With great time and effort, one Temari is finally complete.
Sanuki Kagari Temari Hozon-kai workshop
On that day, gathering and making Temari at the workshop were those whom aim to be professional Temari craftsmen. During the interview, some students exchanged questions such as “Which thread is used for this?”.
Ms. Araki said “I, myself, can learn from them here. We would like to improve ourselves through friendly rivalry to make this workshop create good products.” In the workshop, there was an at-home atmosphere with the cheerfulness among seriousness.
Temari to represent the natural beauty
There are many Sanuki Kagari Temari designed by the inspiration from nature such as chrysanthemum, cherry blossoms, stars and butterflies. When Ms. Araki took over Temari making, however, there had not been the variety as now, and she always made the same pattern. The current Sanuki Kagari Temari is what Ms. Araki put new breath in by arranging the traditional patterns handed over.
We are going to show you some of these beautiful Temari.
Left /Shikaku-tsunagi & Kawarigiku”, Right / ”Kanoko”
The left one has the design with the color of the base remaining, and the right has the darning threads covering the whole surface to hide the base color. In fact, the original Temari in Sanuki country is the left type to remain base color. The more kinds of patterns added, the more designs to hide all base color has been increased.
”Ajiro”(wickerwork net )
”Nozenkazura (trumpet creeper)”
”Juni Kiku”(twelve chrysanthemums)
Sanuki Kagari Temari expresses the natural by using something obtained from nature, such as cotton and plants. Its beauty should be a gratitude to the nature.
Temari is good for gift and souvenir
Sanuki Kagari Temari Hozon-kai sells small Temari and cellular phone straps at affordable prices.
”Sanuki’s Temari Box” （3,800JPY and up / Tax not incl.）
This pattern is called “16 Kiku Kagari” (16 chrysanthemum darning). Colorful Temari in a small box look like Japanese sweets. It is perfect for the celebration gift.
「KOUTEMARI Temari small box（1 box 12,000JPY / Tax not incl.）
Opening the paulownia box, the natural scent drifts around. The supreme aloe, specially formulated by Kyoto’s long-established scent shop “Yamadamatsu Kobokuten” , is used for the core of this fine-darned small Temari. You can enjoy it as an ornament as well as for the fragrance in your bag.
”YOUITEMARI strap”（2,000 JPY / Tax not incl.）
The cute round-shaped Temari strap is recommended as a souvenir. “Nioi Temari strap”, using aloe for its core is available, too.
Let’s make only one Temari in the world.
The more you learn about Sanuki Kagari Temari, the deeper you will find out. It is fun to visit the workshop to see the Temari. How about joining the workshop if you have time?
Temari, which you make with each careful stitch, will be a precious memory from your travels.