Day 4 | Echizen (1)

7 am, woken up by a couple of beeps from my mobile phone. In Belgium the day is coming to an end, here the next one is already starting. It’s still strange, the time difference. Some time left for me to snooze before breakfast and the busy day of meeting up starts.

Last night we had already met a few people we did not know. Are you from Mokublad?’ they sometimes ask. One lady told us she even uses the Mokublad in her lessons. Cool! It’s a bit weird being ‘familiar’ with people you’ve never met in real life but know from Instagram or the internet.

The ‘sisters’ or the mokuhangasisters are pretty much my mokuhanga idols. The group is made up of nine artists who met by chance at the Mokuhanga Innovation Laboratory in Kawaguchi-ko, Japan, and catalyzed the formation of the Mokuhanga Sisters print collective. Some of them are involved in the organisation of the conference now. The next conference takes place in Kansas in 2027. A date to remember!

No workshops are planned for us today. We are going to visit some of the exhibits, the equipment stand - and yes, I know, I’ll check the leftover ‘to be filled’ space in my suitcase first. This evening there will be a ceremonial opening with a banquet. The moment to talk and encounter people.

The 10 am-team (We’re part of the team) is driven to the conference by two coaches. Many people, many languages. We think we recognise a few more people.

Throughout the day there are lots of chats, oohs and aahs and business cards are exchanged.

Vladimir and our mokuhangaprint of the mermaid
remote house in echizen

We visit the expo, where one of my pieces of work and our mokuhangamagic mermaid are on display. We watch the crowd to see if they stop by our print, but at first everyone seems to be looking for their own work ;-)

During the day we meet Andrei from “The Unfinished Print Podcast”. It’s nice to meet each other live. I would recommend anyone interested in Japanese woodblock prints to listen to this podcast! I’ve spend many ours cutting my wood while listening to it.

detail of fibers and tools from the papermakers
mokuhangaprint made by one of the sisters, Lucy May Shofield
mokuhangaprint made by one of the sisters, Mia O

We also visited a local paper maker, the exchibition of the sisters, we had a taxi take us to a temple instead of a gallery, bought a couple of gouges and a block of cherry wood, listened to no less than six speeches in Japanese, each with a very short and perfectly rehearsed introduction in English. We made new moku-friends, ate delicious and very nice food, listened in silence to the traditional flute player and both of us love the beautiful Japanese houses with tatami and sliding doors.

local people serving food