Among Mr. Tanaka’s collection, there are a lot of clothing called “BORO” which had been used from generations to generations in a household; some of them were even made back in the Edo Period. “BORO” is now becoming an international phrase, originated from Japanese snowy north area, meaning of the patched clothes that people back then used for many generations in a household by adding stitches and/or pieces of cloth on it over and over. The word “BORO” has now an artistic sense to it, highly rated among the field of the textile art design, and requested for purchase by various artists and collectors.
BORO is patched clothing with a lot of small cloths here and there, but nothing fancy like today’s quilted or patched works. It was made purely for the practical purposes for retaining warmth in the snowy areas and for making it last as long as possible where it was hard to obtain any sorts of cloth. When we review its practicality and design from today’s point of view, we are able to realize its incredible sophistication.
Amuse Museum exhibits BOROs for the first time after 100 years passed since last use. It contains no waste, and this is what is called “Yuyo-no-Bi (Beauty of Practicality)” which we seem to have forgotten already, the opposite side of the world against the today’s prevailing consumer culture.
*Some exhibits are replaced from March 6th, 2010.
Born in Aomori prefecture in 1933. An ethnologist and author.
A private collector of more than 30,000 pieces of rare articles including the national important tangible cultural properties, folk arts, antiques, and clothes.
The artistically high quality of his collection received high praises from the public figures such as Shuji Terayama and Akira Kurosawa, who used some of the pieces from Mr. Tanakafs collection in their films and books.
It used to be a normal work once in Japan that the women in the families made what they wore. Since it was not possible to grow cotton in a snowy prefecture, Aomori, they planted hemp instead, making threads out of its fiber, in order to make fabrics. Since the cloth made of hemp has a loose texture, they needed to weave as little of the cotton as they could manage to get into the hemp-made fabrics to thicken it. They wasted not even one short thread or one small cloth since they felt that life is dwelling on it as it does in human beings. They synchronized their finite life spans with the lives in the fabrics they made. With the wishes to be healthier, to be stronger, and to be more beautiful, those women wove their souls into the fabrics, and perfected their skills for decoration, retaining warmth, and reinforcement, to the stage of completion creating a unique form of art. Eventually Sashiko Kimono developed out to be a necessary wedding costume for the commonalty.
Amuse Museum also exhibits the antiques and folk arts from Mr. Tanakafs collection in the permanent exhibition area, including the costumes, props, and folk arts used in the film of Akira Kurosawa "Yume" (dreams), offered by Chuzaburo Tanaka himself.
Work Cited :Yukiko Koide, Kyoichi Tsuzuki
"BORO - the BORO clothing culture of Aomori" Aspect publisher, 2008
Pictures by Kyoichi Tsuzuki