From Nihonga to Nara Dolls
Yoshioka-san started off her career by studying "Nihonga" - a form of Traditional Japanese Painting - at an arts college in Japan. She then entered a studio specializing in painting traditional "Nara Dolls" - wooden dolls that are carved from a single piece of wood - where she fine-tuned her painting skills. Today, she uses these skills to create beautiful Noren curtains and wall hanging tapestries that capture the essence of Japanese beauty.
Asked what she has a passion for, Yoshioka-san answered, "Flowers!" Her work reflects her love of flowers, and she enjoys gardening as a hobby - her garden has well over 20 varieties of roses that brighten her days in the spring. She also enjoys traveling, because she loves to experiencing other cultures, and doing so, in turn, helps deepen her appreciation for her own. As for her work ethic, she values integrity ... and believes that the passion and hard work that is put into each product can always be felt by her customers.
About the Materials and Themes
Yoshioka-san uses ramie, an extremely durable and lustrous fiber that is similar to linen, on which to paint her art. Some of her tapestries also utilize pieces of antique Oshima Tsumugi (a traditional method of silk weaving) textiles.
(>> Learn about Oshima Tsumugi Silk Weaving)
As is with most traditional Japanese paintings, she primarily chooses floral and botanical subjects for her tapestries and curtains. For example, Sakura (cherry blossoms), the national flower of Japan, is one of her favorite themes. However, she also goes beyond the traditional and depicts other iconic images of Japanese culture such as the "kabuto" warrior headdress and "tachibina" Girls' Festival dolls.
About Japanese Noren Curtains
There seems to be very little understanding of the concept of a "noren" curtain outside of Japan - so here is a brief summary.
The history of the noren dates way back to the Jomon Era (approx. 12,000 ~ 300 BC), where they were used to shield the homes from the elements of the outside world. The use of the noren was later adopted by shop owners to indicate that they were open for business - they would literally hang out their noren each day as they open and take it in as they close up shop. The noren would soon begin doubling as store advertisements, proudly bearing the name of the business. Today, the noren is displayed in homes as well as shops for the primary purpose of decoration - and a very important one, as it demonstrates one's sense of fashion, style, and appreciation for culture.
Norens come in a variety of styles and designs, but usually have one or more slits cut in them to allow for easy passage.