<Respect for the Aged Day>Ninety year-old Oshiro has lived with kasuri splash-pattern textile in a straight line for 77 years

<Respect for the Aged Day>Ninety year-old Oshiro has lived with kasuri splash-pattern textile in a straight line for 77 years

At the Motobu district of Haebaru Town, on September 15, 90 year-old Toshi Oshiro (left) works at her craft center of kasuri or splash-pattern textile with Tomoko, her daughter-in-law to whom Toshi has passed on the traditional techniques.

September 19, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

Sitting on a weaving machine by the window where she can look out over a patch of loofah gourds, 90 year-old Toshi Oshiro of the Motobu district of Haebaru Town works away skillfully adding kasuri splash-patterns to the textile. She is still actively engaged in developing the Ryukyu kasuri textile that is the local product of Haebaru, and is a master of every aspect of the process. She employs two hand-weavers at her studio and sells the products to exponents of ryubu (Ryukyuan dance) and to wholesale stores in Shiga prefecture. She has 77 years of professional experience in kasuri since becoming involved after finishing elementary school. “My family made Ryukyu kasuri at home and I was interested in it, so I naturally started to help. I just continued making it,” she said in a lighthearted manner.

Fifty-seven year-old Tomoko, who lives with Toshi, started making kasuri in earnest after marrying Masanori (61 years old), second son of Toshi, when she started learning the craft from her mother-in-law. Koji, Toshi’s 30 year-old grandson also started to learn how to make it three years ago, so kasuri craftwork now spans three generations of the Oshiro family.

Toshi was born in the Kyan district near the Motobu area of Haebaru Town. After the Battle of Okinawa, when she was 26 years old, she married Kosei Oshiro, who passed away at the age of 86. In addition to weaving, she worked with her husband washing the glue attached to the cloth. They raised four sons and one daughter. She looked back on her life saying, “We worked for a living. Kosei helped me, so I could raise the children.” In 1988, she was designated a traditional craftsperson.

She wakes up at 6:00am every morning and reads the newspaper before starting on the preparatory work such as making the yarn, tying kasuri and dyeing it. Then she sits on the machine in the afternoon to do the weaving. She enjoys playing gateball at 3:00pm as part of her daily routine. “I enjoy it everyday,” she said smiling. She gets by without glasses except for when she is on the weaving machine, and has no particular illnesses. “When I have a cold, I drink a nutritional supplement and bounce back if I rest in bed for a day,” she laughed.

Daughter-in-law Tomoko emotionally said, “She is an inspiration to us.” Koji grew up listening to the sound of his mother’s handloom. He looked over at his mother respectfully, saying, “She and finds out what our customers want in their products, and creates works that match their needs. It is marvelous that she does that so naturally.”

Toshi again said, “I am happy now that I have managed to get successors in place.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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