There was a festival called Arimatsu Shibori Matsuri in Arimatsu, Midori-ku, Nagoya last weekend and I went there with some of my friends last Sunday. Arimatsu is well-known for shibori, or Japanese tie-dying.
The festival is crowded with thousands of people who want to get some products of shibori and to enjoy seeing a row of old houses along the street, which remains still now. I had, however, one more reason to go to the festival this time. It was to take part in a tour with an English speaking guide.
I went to the festival with a friend of mine last summer, when I just enjoyed seeing old things and didn’t learn anything about the area Last fall, however, I had an opportunity to take part in an English speaking tour at another festival in Arimatsu, and I learned many things through the tour. That was a wonderful experience for me.
Actually the guide of the tour is one of my English teachers this semester! She is not only an English teacher but also an English guide! Since I got the information that she would guide in English at the festival, I asked her to let me join in the tour.
But I was told shocking news one day drawing near the festival. It was that the tour might have been cancelled, because any foreign sightseers hadn’t applied for it yet. So I asked her to perform the tour even if the participants were only Japanese.
After all no foreign sightseers showed up for the tour last Sunday (it seems that some foreign tourists took part in the tour before the day) , but she guided in English kindly for me and 12 of my friends, who are interested in an English speaking guide tour and the festival.
According to the weather forecast, it would rain that day. But luckily or unluckily the sky cleared up and it was really hot! Maybe too hot! But all of the participants had a great time at the festival. I don’t know how express my gratitude for the tour to my teacher and AGGN staff.
Arimatsu was opened in the Tokaido, which was the most important road in Edo period, in the 17th century. Before the village was opened, the area was very dangerous with bandits because it was deserted. But many travelers had to pass the area for coming and going between Kyoto and Edo, which is the old name of Tokyo. The village was opened by the ruler’s order to prevent crimes.
The first settler was Shokuro Takeda from Agui, Chita. He started shibori, or tie-dying, business. Because Arimatsu’s soil was poor, it was not suit for farming. He thought of the good idea to combine cotton and tie-dying.
In those days, Chita was the leading producer of cotton in Japan, and he could get the idea by seeing workers to build Nagoya Castle because many of them came from Kyusyu area, in which tie-dying is famous as well. The business he started was great hit. Arimatsu has been famous for shibori since then.
In Arimatsu all of houses burned down by a big fire in 1784. After that people has devised many ways for fire prevention such as udatsu or namako-kabe. Anyway, I was able to learn many things about Arimatsu this time. Why don’t you visit the old area someday?