Visting Hiroyuki Shindo

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Hiroyuki Shindo
Hiroyuki Shindo

I first discovered Hiroyuki Shindo’s work about 2 years ago. I can’t quite remember what led me to his work, but i was immediately taken with it. His art is very different to traditional “Arimatsu” shibori, and it is awe inspiring. If you google image search his name you will find so much to love and wonder at.

Shindo-san now lives and works in the small town of Kita, in Miyama, just outside of Kyoto. I say just because technically it’s not very far, but realistically it took us a good 1.5 – 2hrs to drive there. Those tiny narrow mountain roads are scary!

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - The road to Miyama
The road to Miyama
Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - The road to Miyama
Roadside waterfall

I had emailed Shindo-san before we left for Japan, to make sure his Little Indigo Museum would be open and that he would be there. It’s a good idea to do this if you want to visit, and it meant he was expecting us on that day.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Miyama
Rice fields in Kita village

So, on the most perfect summer’s day of our entire trip, we arrived at the Little Indigo Museum and met Hiroyuki Shindo, his wife and his apprentice.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Japanese Indigo
Japanese Indigo

We were welcomed in, and shown around his dye studio, we talked about the vats, his process, and he demonstrated his Arashi shibori technique. We talked about all the marvellous contraptions he had in his dye house to make tying and dyeing easier, and he was just incredibly open and generous with his knowledge.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Hiroyuki Shindo's studio
Studio – pot for boiling ash set up in the centre

Sitting in Shindo-san’s dye studio, I felt immensely calm, relaxed and grateful for the opportunity to be there. I’ve wanted to travel to meet Shindo-san for what feels like such a long time, and it felt like a sweet mixture of relief, gratitude and good luck to have finally made it. His generosity with knowledge and welcoming spirit was truly wonderful, and it might sound silly, but revitalising. His love of his craft and sharing it was very welcoming and refreshing.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Hiroyuki Shindo's studio
Dye vats, baskets and fabric press – used for wringing the indigo from the cloth as it emerges from the vat. I’d love to have one of these!

Upstairs in the house (which is an old edo house, it’s amazing!) was his collection of Indigo pieces from around the world. The collection is small but well curated, and some pieces were so old they were beginning to crumble, and were kept under glass. I’ve purposefully left out pictures from the museum, because it is worth the trip to see in person.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Miyama
Gardens and thatched roofs in the village

We took a short break from our visit and went for a stroll around Kita. Nearly all the houses in the village are Edo houses, and it is just the cutest place to visit. So beautiful! We had a snack at a local cafe and also visited a folk craft museum. The town is very small, you can walk the whole area in around 20 mins.  Then we went back to say good bye to everyone at the Little Indigo Museum.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Miyama Flowers
Fields of flowers in Kita
Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Miyama
Little canals, perfect for paper boat racing!

I was lucky that on the day we visited; Shindo-san’s apprentice Naoko Omae was setting up her first vat in his studio, so I got to see what the sakumo looks like before the lye is added and talk about how they set up their vats. They start new ones each summer and use it all summer long. If they use it well by the end of summer they will only be getting pale shades of blue from the vat.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Sakumo (Japanese Indigo)
Sakumo waiting for the lye to be added
Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Natural Indigo vat
A healthy vat

Each vat uses over 20kg of sakumo (composted indigo) and over 200L of lye, which they make by boiling ash in water. Vats are fed only using sake, bran and more lye when necessary.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Naoko Omae

While speaking with Naoko-san and Shindo-san, I heard a little of her back story and about how she came to be Shindo-san’s apprentice, which was very interesting! She has also studied in the US and exhibited alongside Rowland Ricketts (a fantastic dyer!). I can’t wait to see what she starts to produce under Shindo-san’s teaching.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Arashi dyed work oxidising
Work oxidising in the sun
Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Work by Hiroyuki Shindo
Some of Shindo-san’s work on display

Walking away from the museum, I was so happy that I shed a few tears like a big soppy sook! It’s not often you get to go and do something you’ve dreamt about, and have it be more wonderful than you could have hoped for. I hope that I get the chance to visit again.

Bind | Fold Japanese Textile Tour 2015 - Victoria Pemberton and Hiroyuki Shindo
Me and Shindo san!




7 thoughts on “Visting Hiroyuki Shindo

  1. I just discovered your blog and I was also told about visiting Hiroyuki Shindo. I was told to stay in the village for 1 night as it’s very nice and there is a good hotel and some good hiking or walks.
    Did you rent a car in Kyoto to get to Miyama? Do you know if there is public transportation?
    I am going in October.
    Tobie (in California)

    1. Hi Tobie,

      We did rent a car in Kyoto, just for the day. If you can stay in the village that would be wonderful, it’s so nice there.
      There is a bus, the details for that are on Shindo-san’s website for the little Indigo museum. You’ve made me realise i haven’t put links in my post so I’ll fix that up now.
      Have a wonderful time meeting Shindo-san and say hello from me!

  2. Hi! I’m wondering if Shindosan speaks English? (Or do you speak Japanese?)

    I’m planning a trip to Japan next year with my husband to learn Shibori dyeing and would love to learn from someone like him.

    Do you happen to know if he would do something like this?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Grace,

      Shindo-san speaks English, his English is very good. I do know that he does not offer any workshops / education beyond a chat in his studio. If you google natural dyeing kyoto I’m sure you’ll find something. There is a place in Ohara that does workshops, you’ll need to google it. I have no idea how good they are though :)

  3. hi, this is a very beautiful and interesting post. thank you. Does Shindo-san still offer apprenticeships? I am very interested in doing a longer term apprenticeship for dyeing. Do you know of others that may offer something like this?

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