Yamaguchi, Japan : the heart of a people
The new year is rockin' and I wanted to share with you all a wonderful trip I was able to take last year. It included some incredible, once in a lifetime memories and encounters with beautiful souls with immense love for their craft and their people.
Last October I had the honor of visiting Yamaguchi Prefectural University (YPU) in Japan on behalf of UH Maui College. We were joined by representatives from Finland's Univeristy of Lapland for a Super Global Fashion Workshop lead by YPU's Dean Professor Mizutani.
Yamaguchi is in the south-west of Honshu Island with a stunningly beautiful countryside filled with rice fields and dotted with small villages of old-style Japanese buildings. It sits on the western waterway between Japan and the continent of Asia - making it the perfect location for an industrial revolution. But today, it loses much of it's younger generation to the bigger cities and the countryside maintains it's predominantly agricultural way of life.
Professor Mizutani has dedicated her professional research toward the use of regional resources to create regional product specifically suited to the dominant agricultural way of life in Yamaguchi Prefecture. She has lead her students in designing a modern version of the traditional Japanese "Mompe", or pants. With their pants, "Mompekko", a student-lead business emerged and the pants are manufactured and sold in Yamaguchi City.
During the week we had the privilege of learning Japanese crafts of Indigo-dyeing workshop and Japanese paper-making, along with a visit to their Yamaguchi City manufacturer. The spirit of these people and the heart in their craft warmed my soul. Their steadfast nature felt very akin to many of our cultural practitioners here at home. Those who remain in the region are much like Professor Mizutani, championing Japonian way of life, keeping things simple, and in the words of the manufacturer, returning Yamaguchi to greatness. And even those who move on maintain an incredible pride for their home.