Projects

Hands gather to create, protect, and sustain community Tsuyo Onodera, a Master Kimono Maker, has been in the garment industry for more than sixty years, as owner and proprietor of the Aizawa Sendai Kimono Making/Training School in Sendai, Japan. Together with her daughter, Maki Aizawa, she makes haori and hanten, jackets and coats from denim, linen, and cotton, as well as scarves, silk broaches, and other garments. Additionally, they offer home goods including sashiko stitched (a form of Japanese folk embroidery) tea towels and abstract tapestries. Kimonos are often worn in Japan for important public holidays and festivals, and for formal occasions such as weddings and funerals. In 2021 in Sonoma, California, Maki was inspired to create her own brand "Kamiko." As founder and designer, she brought together a Women's Collective of licensed kimono makers in the Tohoku region of Japan, who were trained by her mother, Tsuyo. Her vision is to put a contemporary spin on kimono traditions, creating designs that can be incorporated into everyday use. Tsuyo's mastery of traditional techniques and Maki's creativity combine to create contemporary garments and more that preserve the traditions of kimono-making. Using recycled antique kimono silk, and natural cottons and linens, fabric dying is an integral part of the process. The pair use a variety of colors ranging from muted grays to precious indigos to fiery reds. For indigo, they send cloth to be specially dyed in Japan. Once the fabric is dyed, it can be embellished with traditional styles of embroidery such as sashiko or kogin or the fabric can even be hand painted. After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated part of their home region, This mother and daughter team collaborated with seamstresses and embroiderers in the Tohoku region of Japan. They initiated the Senninbari Project (Senninbari meaning "Thousand Person Stitches"). Maki and Tsuyo created this project to bring together women who had lost everything and teach them sewing skills so they could have a source of income, but even more importantly a connection with others. Maki Aizawa is committed to preserve a sewing tradition that is being lost and to honor and celebrate the specialized hand skills and techniques of this tradition. She wants to share the philosophy of minimizing waste and creating objects of enduring value that is embodied in the kimono making tradition. The Japanese believe that a garment sewn by many people becomes an amulet, protecting the wearer from danger and enclosing them in prayers. Our work will be presented at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe from July 7 through July 10, 2022. The tickets are on sale at https://folkartmarket.org/tickets.
A five minute film of the performance "Bunraku Ningyo Awakenings" by Bunraku puppet master Kanroku and his company, Mokugu-sha, organized by Maki Aizawa for the University of Southern California: Visions and Voices in January 2019. Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative Performance Date: January 11, 2019 USC Brain and Creativity Institute's Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall (BCI) A Performance by Kanroku and his company, Mokugu-sha, based in Osaka, Japan Featuring Music by Sage Romero & Robert Piper Jr. of AkaMya Culture Group, Big Pine, CA Organized by -Rebecca Corbett (USC Libraries) -Velina Hasu Houston and Oliver Mayer (USC School of Dramatic Arts) -Satoko Shimazaki (USC Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures) -Maki Aizawa (Sonoma Cultural Exchange) Performance Description: Experience traditional Japanese puppet theatre in a rare performance outside of Japan by renowned bunraku ningyo performer Kanroku and his company, Mokugu-sha. Taking inspiration from antique bunraku puppets from the USC Libraries’ East Asian Library, Kanroku and Mokugu-sha will create a special piece for the USC community. The performance will explore the tension between social obligations and personal desire—a conflict at the heart of the bunraku repertoire—and highlight the expressive possibilities for storytelling with non-human puppets and creative experimentation by bunraku ningyo practitioners past, present, and future. Artists Description: Renowned Japanese bunraku ningyo puppeteer Kanroku studied at the National Bunraku Theater in Osaka under Master Kanjuro Kiritake II, and was named Kanroku Kiritake in 1979. He then apprenticed under Minosuke Yoshida III, and was renamed Kanroku Yoshida in 1987. In 2006, he started his own theatre company, Mokugu-sha. Kanroku teaches and practices the classical pieces of bunraku ningyo theatre while pursuing contemporary projects and collaborating with artists working outside of bunraku. Film Produced by Sonoma Cultural Exchange Film Directed and Edited by Ryo Araki
Our mission is to bring masters of international cuisine and traditions to Sonoma to raise appreciation and awareness in an exchange that broadens the cultural horizons of all parties involved. We aspire to connect traditional Japanese artisans with international audiences through in-person workshops in Japan and the United Staes. With the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, we now offer hands-on online programming.
A 25-hour workshop created by Maki Aizawa and let by Master Kimono Maker, Tsuyo Onodera, to present the techniques and skills in the art of traditional kimono making workshops held at Workshop Residence and San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.
A three minute film of Maki Aizawa’s installations for “Surviving Tsunami Waves: the Exhibition of Resilience through Arts and Narrative,” (survivingtsunami.com) sponsored by Mayo Clinic Dolores Jean Lavins Center for Humanities in Medicine, Rochester Art Center (RAC) and University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) held in March 2015.
Maki is a co-founder of Sonoma Cultural Exchange, a non-profit devoted to bringing cultural activities from Japan and other parts of the world to Sonoma and the Greater Bay Area.
Senninbari means “Thousand Person Stitches”. The Japanese believe that a garment sewn by many people becomes an amulet, protecting the wearer from danger and clothing them in prayers. After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated part of her home region, Maki and her mother, Tsuyo Onodera created a project to bring together women who had lost everything and teach them sewing skills so they could have a source of income, but even more importantly a connection with others.
Maki and her mother Tsuyo Onodera, a Master Kimono Maker, spent several months as artists-in residence at the Workshop Residence in Dogpatch, San Francisco in 2013. They led a four-day yukata (casual summer kimono) making workshop.
Examples of limited edition textiles at the San Francisco residential studio.