Known as an ancient capital, Kyoto is the heart of Japan’s traditional crafts that have been cultivated for more than 1000 years. With traditional culture such as tea ceremony, flower arrangement and festivals held by temples and shrines, traditional crafts have constantly developed. Here, 26000 craftsmen still work and foster their successors in the fields of ceramics, textiles, papers, wood or bamboo works and so on. In this situation, there are also some small studios owned by young craftsmen who make modern artworks.
A-Na Hat Studio is one of them, but a hat, such a thing from the occident is very rare in this traditional city. So, it was rather surprising to find this studio standing quietly in a narrow alley just 3 min from Sanjo station.
The owner, Azusa Nakajima, opened her studio 10 years ago. After graduating from a design institute, fashion styling course in Tokyo, she decided to enter the world of hats. It was a sudden happening that made her become a hat designer. While traveling in Shikoku, the smallest island of the four main islands of Japan, she ran across a hat shop, zaza chapeau, to which she was completely attracted. She moved there in a flash and began to work as an apprentice. After that, she came back to her hometown Kyoto by becoming independent.
How do you get ideas for your artworks?
I don’t have any specific answers but I can say that I like classic things…such as old photos, books and films. Though I might be influenced from them, I definitely try to make contemporary hats not only for young people but for generations.
I also like going to temples and shrines in Kyoto, actually I realized their virtue after living here again.
Do you have some favorite temples and shrines?
I like Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine. This is very famous for its Thousand Torii Corridor but it’s interesting enough. If you go there, check out a specialty of the shrine town, a Japanese handmade cracker in the shape of fox (the white fox is a symbol at Inari Shrine).
Genko-an Temple is also a temple with symbolic motif. There are two windows based on Buddhism facing to the garden :a round one meaning enlightenment and a square one meaning illusion .
Oh, the gardens at temples and shrines always give me inspiration. There are a lot of hints for my creation in light of landscape design because I’m actually interested in golden ratio when I’m thinking a hat within an outfit.
And then Sekitei in Ryoan-ji Temple. The first time I faced the rock garden, I had an inexplicable feeling and I was wondering what caused it. In fact, that is because of the wall whose height is lower in the back. This is one of the effects of perspective that you can find at the japanese garden. What else…? I like also Tenju-an, a sub-temple of Nanzenji temple because it has a profound atmosphere. A first impression is important for me.
Do you have a special place or piece in Kyoto other than temples and shrine?
Yes, every day off I have, I go out! I often spend time alone at my favorite cafes and restaurants. In the morning, I take breakfast at Eight. It’s a cafe that might be so local and ordinary that young girls generally don’t enter, but I like the old couple owners and the atmosphere that regular customers spend time at their own pace. Kyoto is one of the cities where there are many classic cafes even though the number of them is decreasing these days because of the chain coffee shops.
I have also some favorite restaurants for lunch and dinner: Tramonto(Italian), Watatsune(soba: buckwheat noodle) , Hanamomo(soba) ,Notoyo(eel dishes), Kati(Thai food), Cerisier(bistro)…and I recommend a good sushi restaurant called Tai Sushi. It’s a clear-cut account that you can simply order chef’s choice: about 2,000 yen for 7-8 pieces. And it’s convenient that this restaurant is located at Shijo Kawaramachi.
A-Na Hat Studio is open with a cafe and a shop. Why don’t you drop over?
A-Na Hat Studio (in tetecamu)
39-2 Sanchome Higashiyamaku Kyoto-shi Kyoto Japan, 605-0005
open A-Na Hat Studio: 12h-19h, cafe: 9h-17h
closed on Wednesdays, 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month