Gallery 11 - Michael Hattori, USA
I started kumihimo back in 1979 when I was an exchange student in Tokyo; I wanted to study a Japanese craft that I could take back home with me, and my homestay mother just happened to be a friend of the Domyo family; so I went for a three-hour lesson every Saturday for 8 months and learned about 15 marudai braids; I was fascinated with the takadai, though, and the beautiful flat braids. Of course, my teacher said I couldn't start takadai until I had learned marudai, kakudai, and ayatakedai first- at least two years!! But in the end, she relented and lent me a takadai. I got to do only one simple flat braid, but what fun!!! I wanted to bring a takadai back with me, but even 20 years ago, they cost $700 or so. So, I had to settle for the marudai, which I now also really enjoy.
I have only started doing takadai braids about a year and half ago, when I stumbled upon Richard Sutherland's incredible workshop in San Francisco, with three master kumihimo artists from Japan: Makiko Tada, Yayoi Miura, and Tamaki Hirata. I hadn't done any kumihimo at all for about 15 years and it finally dawned on me to check the Internet!! I only expected a couple of websites to appear and I nearly fell out of my chair when the search turned up THOUSANDS of websites!! And Richard's workshop was to start just two days after that. I only was able to be there for one day, but it was such a treat and an honor to meet and work with such masters. AND I got my dream of owning a beautiful takadai, thanks to Janis and Dave Saunders!!
I mostly braid for fun and brain exercise, but I have recently had Japanese sword-arts teacher ask me to make sageo for him and some of his students. So now I have a purpose, too!
Takadai Braids

Niken "Hattori": this is my last name in
kanji characters, cotton with 60 tama, double-braid

Rainbow Tsunegumi: embroidery pearl cotton, 25 tama, single braid 3-3 twill; this is braid #5 in Makiko's Takadai Braids 1 book.

Saidiji gumi: I have a fascination with square braids and was very excited to find that Makiko had miraculously translated this braid for takadai; it is #71 in Takadai Braids 2. Deceptively simple but very difficult to keep even and VERY slow going! This is made with Biron, 56 tama

Saidiji gumi, detail: this was my first attempt at Rodrick's 2002 workshop in Ft. Bragg.
Marudai Braids

Danzome Karakumi: this braid was made with variegated silk way back in 1979 when I studied at the Domyo studio in Tokyo; very difficult braid!

Sasanami-gumi: this is also a "vintage" '79 braid, also silk.
Michael can be reached by e-mail.
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January 27, 2004
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