Vera Brackloさん




Self introduction:

My name is Vera Bracklo and I am a master student in the field Conceptual Textile at Burg Giebichenstein in Halle Germany. Before starting my internship at Shimogawa orimono I studied as an exchange student for one semester at Tokyo University of the Arts in the field textile arts.

From early childhood on I was in close contact with Japanese culture and artifacts in my extended family environment. The high quality and sustainability of Japanese craftsmanship as well as its appreciation, care and repair of old and cherished pieces have shaped my own quality standards very much. I had always adored its timelessness, sturdiness, functionality and simplicity. To learn how to select, preserve and adapt the old techniques and objects for the future has been a wish I had since I have studied as an exchange student at Hiroshima City University in 2019.

During my time in Hiroshima my interest and passion for traditional Japanese craftmanship grew and grew. My time there shaped me deeply as an artist and designer. Especially the mindfulness so fundamental to Japanese craftmanship had a great impact on me.

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic I could only attend one semester at Hiroshima City University in person. Although my time in Japan was cut short, the country has had a great and lasting impact on me. I decided to return once more and resume my time in Japan with a deep dive into Japanese textile craft and gather as much knowledge as I can during my 6 months here.

Tokyo University of the Arts

During my studies at Tokyo University of the Arts I concentrated on learning about the traditional textile Techniques Katazome, Bingata and Yuzen.


In preparation to my internship at Shimogawa Orimono I also created a Kasuri textile during my time there. It already showed me how time consuming the Kasuri process can be.

Either one of the crafts I learned is deeply detailed and uses specific and well thought out techniques and cannot be explained in just a few sentences. They all stem from a long tradition and years of experience. Something else I have noticed during my classes is how connected traditional textile practices are to environmental changes. Most of the recipes we used differed according to the season or level of humidity and done in a traditional way used local resources.

This also is the case in the making of Kurume Kasuri at Shimogawa orimono, as the threads will dry faster when hung outside in the sun and the tied yarn called Kukuri is usually loosened on an open field.

Textile (as well as other crafts) culture in Japan is also very special as every region has their own local textile/craft and connected tradition.

During my time in Tokyo I had the chance to meet many talented craftspeople from all over Japan and my conversations with them as well as their passion for their crafts truly inspired me. After I had learned so much in these past months, I was looking forward to my internship in Yame to really experience how Kurume Kasuri is made.

Kurume Kasuri:

Before I came to Japan, I already knew I wanted to gather hands on experience next to my time at Tokyo University of the Arts. I had been drawn to the clear, but at the same time slightly blurred patterns of Kurume Kasuri. Every fabric is unique due to the Kasuri threads moving in a different (but controlled) way every time. This thought excited me as well. It was also important for me to truly experience the daily hard work it takes to create a textile as it is something vastly different from studying about it at university.


I am very thankful, that I was given the chance to learn more about the Kurume Kasuri process these past weeks and I will always keep my time here as a precious memory.

I was greeted with such an openness and kindness by everyone at Shimogawa orimono and my time here went by so fast. I could really sense what it means to be a 3rd generation family business and how much it is part of what Shimogawa orimono is today.

It takes 30 steps and about 3 months to create a Kurume Kasuri textile. These 30 steps involve quite a lot of manual labor, precision and skill. I was able to observe most of them and it became quite evident to me that it takes lots of practice to master just one of the steps involved in the making of Kurume Kasuri. During the process every single thread has been touched multiple times by multiple people along the way. The threads have been pulled, tied, soaked, stretched, dried, washed, divided and threaded over several weeks. To me each fabric is even more special now that I know all the people that are behind its creation.

Shimogawa san is also a very open minded and future oriented craftsman. Next to being open to collaborations with artists and their new ideas, he has welcomed me like others before me in his workshop and shared his knowledge kindly with those who are passionate about textiles as well. By teaching the new generations I believe that traditional techniques like Kurume Kasuri will remain and even flourish as we reevaluate our connection to textiles and our environment.

During my time in Yame I could already sense how his work has made Shimogawa orimono an internationally known and sought out partner by various companies, designers or artists.  It is a welcome space for likeminded people from all over the world and his workshop feels like a space of endless possibilities while keeping the tradition alive. My time with him also made me realize how important community is. Shimogawa san works together with many different partners, that are contributing to the creation but also continuation of Kurume Kasuri as well. It is something we all should keep in mind, as in a community we can truly support each other and work together on a common goal.


I am sure this will not be my last time in Japan. For now, I will return to Germany to finish my master degree, but I am already hoping to return for a research trip afterwards. Japan has such a rich Textile culture to offer, and I am not done learning more about it yet. Many Japanese Techniques need time and can’t be studied in just a few weeks so I plan to return with more time on my hands. A friend of Shimogawa san has told me in a conversation: You can read about it, but you have to come here to really understand it. Something I also have experienced during my time here. Until I return, I also want to work more on my Japanese skills to connect with craftspeople without the language barrier that inevitably comes when being in another country and working together.

In the future I would like to realize projects between Germany and Japan and share what I have learned here with as many people as I can. It is a truly special feeling to see how much work, but also well-kept tradition is behind this textile and how much it mirrors the people behind its creation. In my future I want to keep working in a field that supports local craftspeople in Japan as well as Germany, to protect the knowledge that has been gathered and handed over for many years. Ideally, I would like to keep in touch and start collaborations with the people I have met in Japan and establish even more connections in the future.

For now, I will leave Japan with a rich heart and good memories in mind as well as a lot of knowledge I have gathered along the way.

At last, I want to thank Shimogawa san and his family as well as everyone involved with Shimogawa orimono for taking me in and teaching me so patiently about Kurume Kasuri. The past month has been truly special to me. Hontoni arigato gozaimasu.













これらの過去の数週間で久留米絣のプロセスについて学ぶ機会をいただけて非常に感謝しています。ここでの時間はいつまでも宝として心に留めておくでしょう。下川織物の皆さんから受けた開かれた心と親切に、私はあっという間に過ぎていった時間を感じました。私は本当に、3代目の家族経営がどれほどShimogawa Orimonoの一部であるかを感じることができました。





八女での滞在中、下川織物の仕事がいかにしてShimogawa Orimonoを国際的に知られ、様々な企業、デザイナー、アーティストにとって求められるパートナーにしてきたかを感じることができました。それは世界中からの志を同じくする人々にとって歓迎される空間であり、彼の工房は伝統を守りながらも無限の可能性を秘めた場所のように感じられます。彼と過ごした時間はまた、コミュニティがいかに重要かを理解させてくれました。下川さんはさまざまなパートナーと協力しており、それが久留米絣の創造だけでなく継続に貢献しています。これは私たち全員が心に留めておくべきことであり、コミュニティでは本当にお互いをサポートし、共通の目標に向かって協力できるのです。






Vera Brackloは、昨年の9月に東京藝術大学への短期留学が決定した時点で、その後、、2月〜3月に下川織物でのインターンの申し入れをしてきました。3年前に同じ大学から東京藝術大学へ短期留学し、下川織物へインターンシップで滞在し久留米絣を学んだナディアがいましたが、彼女からも話を聞いて下川織物へのインターンシップを強く決心したようです。現在、下川織物は、職人の世代交代の時期に差し掛かっており工場も人手不足の状況でしたので、Veraは、より実践的に工場内の作業を多く学ぶことができたのではと思います。彼女の情熱は素晴らしく、貪欲に学ぶ姿勢は尊敬に値します。まだまだ学び足りないと近い将来、日本を訪れることを心より歓迎したいと思います。


久留米絣織元 下川織物





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