Japanese Fishermen’s Coats from Awaji Island (Fowler Museum Textile Series 5) arrived on my doorstep this morning, just in time for a leisurely read over tea and breakfast. And what an enjoyable read it was!
This slim volume starts off with an historical essay by Luke Roberts, Fishing Villages in Northern Awaji, about the life and times of Awaji Island fishermen. Accompanied by modern photos and Edo era illustrations, this essay presents a taste of the culture and economy of Awaji Island at the time when these garments were the height of local fashion. I’ll admit that as I purchased this book more for the photographs than the essays, I’ve mostly skimmed this essay but will definitely read it later.
The second half of the book, Waves and Folds, the Life of Fishermen’s Coats is chock full of gorgeous photos of indigo dyed sashiko garments worn by Awaji fishermen and sewn by the industrious wives and mothers of these men. Also included are firemen’s jackets and examples of kogin (similar to sashiko but more ornamental and complex). Tsutsusode and makisode, two variations of kimono sleeve design often seen in Japanese mingei are also explained, which I found very helpful.
I highly suggest this volume if you are interested in historical uses of shashiko and design ideas. It is not a how-to book, but certainly worth reading if you are looking for more advanced techniques to replicate or expand on.