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choice_genes

Day-trippin' in Kojima

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I hope this is a relevant and interesting post for some people.

I recently spent nearly 4 months travelling in America, Europe and Japan.

I was in Japan in December, and managed to take a day trip out to the Okayama prefecture - more specifically, I went to the town of Kojima, where companies like Eternal (Maeno), Big John and Momotaro (Japan Blue, Rampuya, whatever they are called...), Omnigod/Domingo have their offices/factories/stores.

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It was a pretty weird little town. Reminded me a lot of Memphis, TN. Similar size, and similarly seemed to be focussed on a single industry, with not much else going on (on the surface anyway.).

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Anyway, I first went to the Rampuya indigo dying workshop, pretty close to the station, which was rad. Tiny little place, with 3 or 4 women working in there. They spoke very little English (and I spoke very little Japanese), but were very happy to show me around the place. It was only really 2 small rooms.

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I didn't bother with Maeno's offices (the company that makes Eternal), because I read in a tourist brochure that it is strictly an office, and they do not permit visitors. (BTW, the Kurashiki tourist office has a whole bunch of denim-related brochures and maps. I can't read any of them, but they were still worth picking up).

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So I started a short trek across town towards the Momotaro jeans store. On the way, I stumbled upon this weird building.

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From what I could gather, it was a bridge museum. Yeah. I think it has something to do with Kojima being situated right next to an inland sea. Anyway they had an exhibition about jeans made in the Okayama prefecture....

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Longish walk to the Momotaro jeans store. Passed this on the way, thought it was pretty funny:

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It was a sweet little store. Really really nice staff, who spoke a little english (enough, definitely). Had all the jeans out. Also an old-school hand-loom in the store. They also had a whole bunch of really beautiful fabrics and off-cuts that you could buy. I got a couple of bandanas, and some off-cuts to patch up old jeans.

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Next up was the Betty Smith jeans museum. I didn't get any photos inside, but it was pretty cool. Pretty bizzare too.

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I walked past the Big John offices on the main road, but decided not to bother going in, as it would probably have been a similar story to the Maeno offices.

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There were a bunch of jeans ads at the train station, where you would normally see ads for Apple, Coke, Uniqlo etc.

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Anyway, it's not much of a story, but I though some people would be interested in the photos I took.

If you are a denim nerd - and even better if you speak japanese (I think you would get a lot more out of this town if you do) - Kojima is worth the day trip.

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Feel free to discuss etc. Cheers,

O

PS - I ended up getting a pair of Momotaro jeans in Tokyo. I have posted them up in the Momotaro thread (and the tag above).

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Very nice...I didn't realize there were places like this that openly displayed jeans...which sucks as I was in Okayama but never thought to check it out...thanks for the pics!

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Nice pix,

Im staying at a friends in Okayama in the summer for a few days (also a fellow jean fanatic) and we are planning on hitting up many of these same spots. BTW, I heard there is actually a "Jeans Bus" that takes people on tours of all the factories, did you get to ride or see it?? Also, curious if any of the places let you behind the scences to see the dying/cutting/sewing/etc. processes.

Anyway, thanks for the preview.

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Yo chrome - yeah I'm pretty sure there is a jeans bus, I didn't see it, but it was featured in one of the tourist brochures I picked up. I would highly recommend going to a tourist office (either the one in Okayama city, or the one at the JR train station in Kurashiki - Kojima didn't seem to have one...) to get the info. Just say you are interested in jeans and they will give you about 5 different things...

Re behind-the-scenes stuff, the Rampuya dying workshop was really great. Hope one of you speaks japanese. Their flyers say that if you book in advance, you can actually participate in the dying process. It takes about an hour, you can bring your own materials, and pay for the dye only. Or you can use their materials - bandanas, tshirts.... Sounded really cool.

I think Betty Smith might have given people a tour of their offices/factory. Right next to the jeans museum. The people there seemed pretty cool. I think it was family-run.

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man, you did the road trip of my dreams !!!!!!!!! NICE !!!!!!!

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great pics; Kojima will be on my 'to-visit-list' next year when I go back to Japan :)

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I gotta get to komija someday...

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ive gotta go over there and hand dye some shit for myself. that'll make the whole trip worthwhile. the eternals hanging in the picture are crazy!

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thanks for bumping this salaami. Never saw his the first time around. Those vats of indigo look good enough to bathe in

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youre welcome, ive always wondered what bumping is, and im still confused. but if what i did was good, its all good. im just fascinated with momo jeans. next purchase for sure...

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Looks like a cool place. I'd love to visit some day...

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Thanks for the bump indeed! choice genes, if you still have access to those brochures and maps, could you maybe scan/take a picture of them and post? I'd be very interested to see!

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Thanks for the interest and the compliments guys :)

I just re-read this thread and remembered what an awesome trip I had....

Anyway re brochures and stuff, I do still have them lying around somewhere, but don't have easy access to a scanner. I'll try to post them up sometime though.

However, I did get a lot of help from this map - http://www.krashjapan.com/v5/jeansmap/index_e.html

Krash magazine is a partly english-language magazine about cultural stuff happening in the Kurashiki area. Pretty interesting. Cheers.

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Thanks! +rep again when I can...wouldn't mind more pics of anything if you get the chance...haha ;)

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Cool! Another place I want to go, if I ever find any time :o

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Awesome pics and trip. I'll have to check it out the next time I'm in Japan...

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Nice pix,

Im staying at a friends in Okayama in the summer for a few days (also a fellow jean fanatic) and we are planning on hitting up many of these same spots. BTW, I heard there is actually a "Jeans Bus" that takes people on tours of all the factories, did you get to ride or see it?? Also, curious if any of the places let you behind the scences to see the dying/cutting/sewing/etc. processes.

Anyway, thanks for the preview.

Ok, so this shit FINALLY came to fruition.

Anyway, here are me pics, ENJOY!

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Some girl was actually doing this all by hand, and the denim was then used to make various jeans/garments. The owner's wife was actually wearing a dress made from denim from this loom.

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Vats of indigo.

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Ok, so basically you can buy stuff to dye, or bring your own. We just went and bought some cheap shit at Uniqlo and dyed that. To get the pattern you want you basically use wooded blocks/sticks and standard carpentry clamps to isolate the area that you dont want dyed. You can see them in the pics below.

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First you have to wet the stuff to be dyed in regular old water.

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Unfortunately, I didnt get a pic of the first time that the shirt was dunked and then pulled out of the dye, but basically it comes out brown at first. The dyeing process is soak while agitating for one minute and then you have to pull whatever it is you are dyeing out of the dye and expose it to to the air/oxygen by kind of airing it/shaking it out and streching it a little. As I understood it, the indigo turns blue when it oxidizes. Just a small tank top took about 25-30 dips to get the color you see below, and your back starts to hurt as you are hunched over the vat for quite a while. Now I know can totally understand why their jeans cost what they do, labor aint cheap.

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This is the light brownish color of the indigo b4 it has a chance to turn blue.

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Not Selvage!

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chromesquared thanks so much for the pictures and sharing your experience! That jeans bus had me laughing for sure, and I'm very jealous that you got to see the whole process and experience it first hand. When I was in Japan I was able to witness the dyeing and looming process for silk/kimono fabric and it is certainly a fine art that requires skill and the utmost attention and dedication to traditional processes, so I have a lot of respect for all these Japanese companies who continue these traditions and even let tourists/guests experience it for themselves.

Thanks again!

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awesome pics chromesquared, really glad you got the experience the dying at rampuya! + rep is forthcoming :)

Was the Evisu store in Kojima too? I didn't realise...

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Hey, no the Evisu store was closer to my boy's house, apparently Evisu has like 3 or 4 stores in Okayama. Dyeing shit at Rampuya was a really great experience, and I recommend it to anyone that has the chance. If you dont speak Japanese its ok as they said that some ppl come through and they just use words and gestures to get them through the process, but making an appointment in advance might be a little difficult....

http://www.japanblue.co.jp/rampuya/ainozoki/

EDIT: I also actually have a video, but youtube is not uploading my shit for some reason. Will post it here if I can get it to go through.

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Thanks for sharing your trip with us. This is what I love about Sufu...

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this is one of my favortite threads so far, right next to the evo thread. im thanking myself for bumping this.

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this thread is pretty sweet. thanks, chromesquared.

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dont forget choice jeans, the originator of this thread. when i go there, ima take a shit load of whites( tees, beaters, socks, boxers) and dye them bitches. i didn't know a place like this exists, but thank god for it! i love how the indigo fades up the dipping gloves.

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