Bashofu Orimono Koubou receives Kurashiki Mingeikan Award, Toshiko Taira’s place of origin

Bashofu Orimono Koubou receives Kurashiki Mingeikan Award, Toshiko Taira’s place of origin

Toshiko Taira tie fibers together to produce thread, a process called “u-umi” in the Okinawan language—a daily routine for the living national treasure. Photographed in February 2018 at the Bashofu Kaikan in Kijoka, Ogimi Village.

April 23, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


The Bashofu Orimono Kobou in Ogimi Village, Okinawa, an artisan textile studio specialized in the traditional Okinawan bashofu fabric, was awarded the 14th Kurashiki Mingeikan Award. The Kurashiki Mingeikan, a folk art museum located in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture, recognizes individuals and groups expected to play an active role in the future of folk art. The Bashofu Orimono Kobou is organized by living national treasure, Toshiko Taira, 100. The Kurashiki Mingeikan will hold an award ceremony and a special exhibition, “The other bashofu story: The work of the Bashofu Orimono Kobou,” on April 24.


Taira met Soichiro Ohara, president of the Kurashiki Boseki textile company, during her stay in Kurashiki as a member of the WWII Teishin women’s corps. After the war, Taira studied weaving. She also built rapport with Kichinosuke Tonomura, the first director of the Kurashiki Mingeikan museum. Both men wished for Taira to preserve and develop Okinawan textiles upon her return to Okinawa. Taira says their words moved her and has been the driving force behind her work with bashofu.


Bashofu Orimono Kobou received the award not only for producing the traditional fabric but also for spreading the folk art through workshops. Taira commented, “The Mingei Association and others supported me with their [encouraging] words. I am grateful for this award.”


(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)


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