Thump. Thump. A comforting sound resonates from two weaving machines. Teiko Taira’s husband, Shunichi, is weaving next to her, which may be why there is a harmonious mood in the room. Oshima tsumugi is Amami Oshima’s traditional industry that has created jobs on the island. It requires the manual skills of artisans and the process involves 30 steps. Teiko, who learned the trade in her teens, has been weaving continuously for 57 years. Shunichi, who learned the basics from his wife, has 45 years of experience as a weaver. He is also the boss who is responsible for the quality of the finished products. As he starts to weave, Shunichi sometimes finds defects in the early stages that the novice would never be able to find. He does not scold the artisan and quickly disposes of the unfinished product. On numerous occasions, Teiko has sighed over her husband’s strong-headed pride in his craftsmanship, in which he takes full responsibility for defects.

 

Teiko was in school prior to the reversion of Amami to Japan, and what she learned in school was very different from that of her husband. A map of North America was used in her classes. At the time, Amami Oshima had been under the administration of the United States. Teiko is one of the island’s inhabitants whose lives were affected by the war, even in the post-war era, in ways that many people today are not aware of. She has passed on her weaving skills to over 200 people. In recent years, however, the trade, which involves hard labor, has become unpopular among young women, and the number of successors has decreased dramatically. A crystal, packed with the spirit of people who are always focused on their role no matter how old they become, has sublimated to form beautiful kimonos.

 

Teiko Taira

Taira was born in Kasari Village, Amami Oshima in 1934. In 1964, she moved to Naze along with her husband Shunichi, who was born in the same village in 1931. Shunichi, who had been operating a construction business, joined Teiko in making Oshima tsumugi. Shiro Oshima, a type of textile the couple makes with great skill, has gained an established reputation.
Cooperation: Kiyotaka Arikawa, Authentic Amami Oshima Tsumugi Silk Pongee Cooperative

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
photography
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
ISUKE INC. and ICA
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)