When I was 9 or 10 years old my mom dressed me up as a hippie for Halloween. Looking back over twenty years later, I can’t think of anything more frightening. And what’s even scarier (well, in my mind anyway) is that a tie-dying museum exists in the world. I guess in Japan it’s called shibori, and in the town of Arimatsu where the museum is located, the technique dates back 400 years (the earliest known example of cloth tie-dyed is from the 8th century). So you’re telling me a bunch of old hippie burn-outs were hitchhiking around the globe back in the 17th century, or possibly even earlier? Why didn’t someone tell me? Yeah, I’m talking to you, Ms. Fleming, my high school history teacher…cuz I know you’re reading this.
A long time ago Arimatsu was a small village on the old Tokaido Highway. Its inhabitants made a living producing tie-dyed cotton cloth, selling their towels to passing travelers. Today the tradition lives on as more than 2,500 people are still involved in making shibori; more than 100 patterns are possible, with a single kimono requiring between 50,000 and 200,000 handmade stitches and taking 4 to 6 months to complete. Now that’s a piece of clothing! Don’t worry – you can make your own t-shirt, table cloth or handkerchief, which the museum will later send to you when it’s complete. But by that time you will no longer want the thing and it will end up in your next garage sale.
Unfortunately, a huge chunk of my childhood is missing in photo form so I can’t share my Halloween hippie past with you. So instead I will share someone else’s. Peace, man.