Kenji for You Japanese

Interview with Michiyo Masago

Ms. Masago, why were you attracted to Kenji Miyazawa?
I read "Strong in the Rain," Kenji's only poem in our textbook at elementary school. In junior high school period I read many collections of literary works, so I must have also read Kenji's works, but they didn't make a great impression.
I started to feel close to his works after I grew up. In order to become a fashion designer, I took a job in the fashion business. However, I couldn't do what I wanted to do, being in a situation in which I was pressured by my job and increasingly became tired. During this period I met my husband and got married. After we had a baby, my sense about food and clothes totally changed. Up to that point I unconsciously felt like I was European, but then I became a vegetarian and started to wear clothes with string instead of zipper. I started to chose totally different things from those I had chosen before.
After this happened I became close to Kenji's works. Mainly, I read "Night on the Milky Way Train" several times.
After you got married and had a baby, your sense strongly changed in this way. Is that why you began to design simple clothes using natural materials for you brand "Afa"?
It is.
Your theme this year for "Afa" is "Amazing Blue," and you are making clothes based on indigo blue as well as producing a CD for the "fue," a Japanese flute, played by your husband, Hideaki Masago, and piano, played by Won Wing Tsan. How are "Amazing Blue" and "Night on the Milky Way Train" related in your mind?
The four days for the CD recording was a very meaningful time. Both my husband and Mr. Won meditate, and this sense of tuning with the universe is in harmony with improvisational playing. At the point where we thought we were "in tune", we recorded. I think the universal time and sense of "Night on the Milky Way Train" is similar. Of course, the color image of "Night on the Milky Way Train" is blue, isn't it?

Afa's theme

Profile of Michiyo Masago

  • 1947 Was born in Tokyo
  • 1971 Graduated from the Design Department of Tanaka Chiyo Fukushoku Gakuen (Tanaka Chiyo School of Dressmaking).
  • Received the Gold and Copper Awards in the second Kanebo Competition in Japan.
  • Entered Kanebo Fashion Kenkyujyo (Kanebo Fashion Institute).
  • 1976 Lived in Paris where she collaborated for San Ide Japon (Magazine).
  • 1978 The director of the Paris Collection of Takao Ikeda.
  • Became a freelance designer.
  • 1986 Established the brand 'Afa'.
  • 1987-88 Presented her exhibitions "Haregi" and "Haregi Part 2" at Shop & Gallery Ginzake in Tokyo.
  • 1989-90 Presented "Harugi(Spring Clothing)" and "Harugi Part 2" at Yurakucho Seibu Fabric Gallery in Tokyo.
  • 1991-95 Presented "Hanagi (Flower Clothing)," "Soul Cloth Work," "Natural Synchro Cloth Work," "93 Natural Synchro Cloth Work," "Nuno no Ishiki (Fabric Consciousness)," and "Nuno no Kioku (Fabric Memory)."
  • 1996 Presented exhibitions including "Amazing Blue" at Gallery Ghibli in Tokyo.

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