Saturday, July 17, 2010

On towels, Kabuki and the Japan Foundation Toronto




All aitch might have broken loose downtown during the G20 summit but inside the Japan Foundation Toronto (on Bloor Street just west of Bay), life went on as serenely as ever. In fact, attendance was up for their exhibit Tenugui Towels: Design Excellence in Japanese Daily Life. I went back Thursday night, not just to take another look at these pretty and versatile (used for everything from wrapping books and food to wrapping heads and necks) lengths of unhemmed cotton but to listen to program officer Toshi Aoyagi give a slideshow on the use of tenugui on the Kabuki stage. To be honest, I was worried that he wouldn't have many takers for such an "obscure" topic. Ha! Hundreds were there. I've always thought the gallery at the Japan Foundation Toronto was one of the city's best-kept secrets because it's always so quiet whenever I'm there. The secret is definitely out. Everyone at Thursday night's lecture seemed to have attended one of Mr. Aoyagi's talks before and sat back expecting a goodie; he is very entertaining. Who knew that tenugui were and are a favorite prop on the Kabuki stage? Or that they were used as advertisements? And that even the number of lines in a checked pattern could signify a play on words involving a Kabuki star's name?
The towel exhibit will be on until July 30, 2010. Up next at JFT: contemporary Japanese art.
Up next for me? Beautiful downtown Pittsburgh.

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