Japan- 1945 and 2007
One of my amazing trips was to Japan in 2007. I was part of a US delegation sponsored by the Fulbright Foundation and Japan. Two teachers were selected from each state, 100 of us in all, to travel to Japan to work with Japanese teachers. Of course, we were given lots of time to tour that amazing country and I brought back many souvenirs. This is a detail of an obi which hangs in the stairwell. It was from the late 19th century.
The other object is a glorious hand painted fan brought back by my uncle at the end of the World War II. He was serving in the South Pacific in the Navy and probably stopped in Japan on his way home. This was the sort of thing many soldiers and sailors bought as souvenirs. He gave it to my mother and I loved playing with it when I was young.
I just finished a wonderful book, The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. The story ends in post-war Japan and talks about how the desperate people sold family heirlooms to the occupying forces to survive. The fan looks quite old and is exquisitely painted so I wonder if this was one of those heirlooms. I will never know of course but it does make me look at the fan in whole new light. Every object has a story and it is amazing how this fan and obi began in pre-war Japan and ended up in a little farmhouse in Maine.