Chikeiken's Hidden Treasures

Hatori weaving on cold winter days in a "fruit village"

By Alena Eckelmann    - 1 min read

Mrs. Chonan is the owner of Chikeiken farmers' restaurant but what is not apparent at first sight: she is also a very skilled hatori weaver and her works are pieces of art. Sometimes she invites guests at the restaurant to the backroom where she is doing the weaving. Just look at her wand scrolls. The Buddha in one of the scrolls looks so real; the longer you look, the more you feel like the deity is going to come alive any moment. Mrs. Chonan is weaving about 1 cm per day and it takes her about six months to complete one scroll. She produces the raw materials for the threads herself together with a group of locals who grow silk worms. The Chonan's are farmers in a so-called "fruit village" at the foot of the Dewa Sanzan mountains. Fruit trees and farm land dominate the landscape during the warm seasons but in winter masses of snow coat this village in a white, icy cloak. This is the ideal season for Mrs. Chonan to concentrate on her craft.

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Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Celebrating my 10th year anniversary in Japan in May 2018, the country that I call home now. I lived in crazy Tokyo for 6 years and since 2011 I call the Kii Peninsula (Kumano, Koyasan and Yoshinoyama) my home. I have visited all 47 prefectures of Japan and for the last 4 years I have worked as a guide for foreign visitors. My special interest is in Japanese nature and spirituality. I love spending time in the forest and mountains and I love visiting temples and shrines. I am also a licensed guide for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails and for Koyasan, the Buddhist monastery, in addition to being a practitioner and guide for Shinrin Yoku (Forest Therapy).   In recent years I have taken visitors to walk the Kumano Kodo trails, the Nakasendo trail, the 88 temple pilgrimage trail around Shikoku Island and to Dewa Sanzan, the three sacred mountains in Yamagata Prefecture. If you look for nature and spirituality in your trip to Japan, then Wakayama, Nara and Yamagata Prefectures are ideal places to get started!