Tuesday 30th January
As Yosano is famous for its silk-producing district, Chirimen Kaido, we started the day at a silk factory, observing how silk is dyed. The process begins with the silk being soaked in cold water, which makes the material more susceptible to the dye. Dye is then added to boiling water until it reaches the strength for the required colour, and only then is the silk added. This is heated to a high temperature, whilst being continuously stirred, ensuring that the mixture does not reach boiling point (as this could affect the colouring process). The material is slowly lifted out of the water, to let air into the material, which apparently helps to ensure that the dye spreads evenly. Once the material reaches the desired colour, the silk is quickly placed into cold water, to rinse off the excess dye, before being placed into a machine, which spins the material to get rid of any remaining moisture. The silk is hung up to dry, before being ironed, which achieves the standard silk texture.
We were then given our own material to experiment with, and each of us chose colours from a colour chart – I chose to dye a light pink silk scarf, which I plan to give to my mum as a present when I see her in February. We had to leave before the process was over, but we were assured that the scarves would be finished and stitched at the edges, ready for collection on Saturday – I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out!
By this point we were all starving, so we went to a local restaurant to get some lunch. I had udon noodles, with egg and spring onion, followed by tempura (battered/deep fried) chicken, prawn and vegetables. We then paid yet another visit to the 100-yen store, where I purchased some more souvenirs for my family, friends and flatmates.
In the afternoon we went to the local television centre, where the popular local channel KYT is broadcasted (Yosano Cable Television). We were given a talk on how broadcasting works in Japan, and the team explained that the process is very different, as Yosano is surrounded by mountains, which affects radio signals. The team then asked to film some small interview segments, to be shown that evening on the local news – we filmed these in groups of three, during which we each spoke for a few minutes about Aberystwyth University and the Cultural Ambassadors Programme.
We were then given the chance to do some of our own filming, and the team split us up into pairs, before presenting each group with a camera. We then filmed various segments in the surrounding locations, although we soon got distracted by the snow, which ended up with us building a snow man, and having a snowball fight – all for the cameras, of course… (we were amused to find out that these segments were all actually shown on the 8pm news, perhaps not the best way to make our Japanese TV debut!)
We ended the day at the local silk museum, where we were able to see the history of silk in the local area, which was very interesting, especially after the work we had been doing in the morning. Our host families then took us home, and we had a delicious evening meal of Japanese nabe, which consists of a mixture of vegetables and meat, cooked on a portable stove at the dinner table. We spent the evening talking and laughing, before tiredness hit once more, and I made my way upstairs to get some sleep – yet another perfect day.