MINNEAPOLIS — Thousands of people lost their homes, families, and land on March 11, 2011 when a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan. The people who survived the tsunami were moved from shelter to shelter for months. Many of them now still reside in temporary housing. It was at one of these shelters that the Senninbari Project was born.
The term senninbari translates to mean “1000 person stitches,” and refers to a tradition in which the whole community collaborates to make a garment that will protect its wearer from harm. This project was started after the tsunami by Sendai kimono artisan Tsuyo Onodera and her daughter, Sonoma artist Maki Aizawa.
Tsuyo Onodera has been a kimono maker and teacher for fifty years. Her kimono school, where her daughter Maki grew up, has taught hundreds of students – many of whom live in the area affected by the tsunami. Inspired by the history of senninbari and calling on what they knew best, the mother and daughter team created a sewing collective comprised of women from the shelter, each of whom sew a part of a traditional or artistic design which is then assembled and finished in Onodera’s studio.
The goal of their work is to create a livelihood for these women, to celebrate their resilience, and to demonstrate the unique character and history of the Tohoku region.
The product of this far-reaching collaboration will be on view for the first time at Superfrog Gallery + Studio at New People in Japantown, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco for one weekend only, October 27-28. The public is welcome to the opening reception on Saturday October 27 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Learn more about the Senninbari Project at www.senninbari.com or on Facebook. Visit the Superfrog Exhibition at www.newpeopleworld.com/arts/gallery-rental.