Monday, January 4, 2016

Fukuko Katsuura: 1st Life - Traditional Japanese Housewife, 2nd Life - Inventive Kimono Weaver

You are never too old to fulfill your passion and start a second life.

Fukuko Katsuura is not your ordinary kimono weaver; she's one of the few left in the world.  If that doesn't impress, maybe that she self taught herself the craft at age 60, after having grown up in a poor farming village and then marrying during a time when a wife's chief responsibility was solely service to others will.  Food and fabric were scarce in postwar Japan but it was a gift of cloth woven by Fukuko's grandmother that led to her passion for weaving.  

Fukuko at UC with her son.
Fukuko was eventually able to attend exhibitions and workshops and sought out teachers and other students to supplement the knowledge she didn't have. And you can add ageism to her list of hurdles which was often the case when seeking new learning.  But Fukuko's perseverance never faltered as she experimented with natural dyes, different threads and original design ideas.  Several years ago she spoke and exhibited her craft at UC, Berkeley.  Her reputation expanded further to the US when she met anthropologist and author Liza Dalby who specializes in Japanese culture.  Liza's website chronicles Fukuko's amazing story in more detail.  Fukuko summed up her thoughts on life in a recent letter to Liza:  

  • When we have no prior knowledge, we are free to dream. 
  • Because we are human we can make ten thousand friends. 
  • The young are our teachers.
  • In my opinion, we only begin to mature starting at age sixty.
  • Our assets are simply the lives we have led.    

Fukuko's kimonos


  1. Thank you for this wonderful article. I too started a new venture when I turned 60. Fukuko Katsuura has given me hope to continue even when I think I am crazy to continue on.

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