Before Being Maiko Kurogouchi of mame

Maiko Kurogouchi (mame)

05 Oct 2015


The sound of air spewing out from the A/C grew louder and then fainter; the second hand of the clock on the wall resounded overdramatically as it dutifully ticked out the seconds one after another. From the window I could see browning mountain ridges and chimney smoke drifting by from some unknown source. I returned my gaze back inside the room, only to turn my eyes back outside again, but by then there was no longer any sign of the smoke.

She is always abrupt. On any day she might suddenly post onto social media a scene that seems to correctly encapsulate all the worldʼs beauty. And from that I will learn that she has set out on yet another creative journey.

“Windows”—every one of them that she has captured during her travels appears to brim with pathos. This may be because she took them in the winter. Or because she caught a cold. Or because I am no longer by her side.

These are accounts from my trip with her through a still snowy Tohoku, travel memories that colored the days before and after, and tracings from the 10-plus years that we spent together.

The silence was abruptly broken by her sweet, girlish voice. Triggered by the sound of her voice reading out thread sizes, the hazy contours gradually began to take shape. The drawing room on the second floor—it was a race against time when the embroidery threads had to be picked out there under the natural light. With the sun already setting and the room filling up with a growing expanse of shadow, only the window stood out sharply as if to show where it was positioned.

When visiting the factories, she would give greetings in a voice unimaginably loud for her smaller-than-average frame. Her expressions and voice were unfamiliar to me at those moments. And it was very stirring to witness—for those were moments when I could glimpse the effort she had put into completing the tailored clothes that I would merely be sliding my arms into.

Even those almost depressingly delicate and enchanting garments were originally born not from magic but from the hands of people. She spread out sketches, laid out color samples, and swiftly but deliberately reeled in the ideas inside her head. All of the pieces fell perfectly into place through this seemingly rough, highly analog procedure, as if everything had been determined from the start.