MOMOKO FUJII 藤井 桃子
Rice straw artist & craftswoman
« Je suis tellement reconnaissante envers la Nature qui me permet de faire ce que j'aime, envers toutes les personnes que j'ai rencontrées et envers mes succès et mes échecs.»
«I am so grateful for Nature that allows me to do what I love,
for all the people I have met and for all my successes and failures.»
"Tsubasa" 130 cm x 30 cm, 2023. Piece created in collaboration with Mathilde Roseanne Brégeon for KAERAÑ
TO ORDER A PIECE OR FOR ANY QUESTION, CONTACT US HERE :
Where were you born and raised?
In Hanase district in Kyoto City.
What did your parents teach you that you are grateful for ?
The importance of continuing to do what you love.
How did you learn the skill? Who taught you?
When I first started, I learned straw crafting from a local elderly person, and later, through the introduction of an acquaintance, I learned from several elderly people from outside Kyoto who were able to make straw crafts. I went there many times, stayed overnight, studied, recorded, and practiced many times at home. I want to continue learning new skills.
Do you have a mentor? Or the people who helped or influenced you?
Mentors are my family and local relatives who are fully cooperating with us in the rice fields. People who help with the straw work related to Shinto rituals: «straw friends». Sawako Tanizawa (artist) was the first to support my artistic activities.
I am also influenced by the work of the french artist Nelly Saunier who works with feathers.
When and why did you decide to work with rice straw (something specific happened)?
In 2010, I had just enrolled at Kyoto City University of Arts, and I wanted to expand my range of expression by learning from an elderly person. Straw work is a familiar local culture that has been around for a long time, but when I actually tried weaving it, I realized that it was more difficult than it looked, and at the same time, I was fascinated by the beauty of the straw work that comes with the technical ability. To me it was fresh and new and I wanted to wear it ! It was at this time that I had the idea for straw jewelry and I wanted to expand the possibilities of straw in fashion and art.
The culture of straw crafts using rice straw, a by-product of rice, has closely enriched people’s lives, through food of course, but also clothing, shelter, and rituals. I felt that the roots of the Japanese people lie in straw crafts, and thought it was important to protect it, pass it on, and make it evolve because it is becoming obsolete, so I decided to become a straw craftsman.
Can you describe your lifestyle and typical work day at Hanase?
During the rice cultivation work (April to October)we work in the rice fields from morning until evening.I basically create works in my home studio every day, except when I am working on rice cultivation.
I work on my own projects and I respond to orders for products used in Shinto rituals.
I don’t have set days off because I receive orders for events and works irregularly. I just take a break when I want to take a break.
What are the main activities that must be done in a year to create the work ?
Seedling production, rice planting, rice harvesting, straw drying and cleaning work
What is the most enjoyable part of your work? And the most difficult?
The joy of knitting and the difficulty of creating an image I have in my mind.
I am extremely happy and have fun when my work turns out the way I wanted it to, when it turned out better than I imagined, or when I made everyone happy with my pieces.
How do you envision your life and yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
I want to continue to present my own work as an artist and further expand the possibilities of straw, both domestically and internationally.
I also imagine that it would be great if I could increase the number of collaborators and start a straw crafts company.
What was your childhood dream and what is your dream now?
As a child I wanted to be a Manga artist but now I want to continue to evolve as a straw craftsman.
What are you most grateful for in life?
I am so grateful for Nature and the great environment it gives me and allows me do what I like. For all the people I have met and all my successes and failures.
What human quality do you value the most? Honesty
What are your hobbies other than weaving straw?
Fashion, both looking at it and wearing it!
Recently, I’ve been hooked on voice acting because of anime.
What is a perfect day for you?
A day where you can honestly enjoy creating without feeling anxious. Also, I am conscious of this every day.
Where is your favorite place to go when you have free time?
Tokyo because you can get a very different stimulation from Kyoto.
Could you tell me the title of your favorite music album?
The artist is B’z and the album name is : C’mon / The Best “Pleasure”
What is your favorite food and your favorite restaurant in Japan ?
My favorite food is sushi, hot pot dishes, and any meat. My favorite restaurant is Tamaruya in Kyoto.