Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
The noren (暖簾 / entrance curtain) is among the most traditional of Japanese things. The “split curtains” are a common sight in Japan and they usually have one or more vertical slits, which ease you to walk straight through.
Stores, when they are open for business, will hang their norens over their entrances. Business-typed norens usually have logo, mon (family crest), or pattern suggesting the specialty of the business. And the norens use to decorate doorways or windows of private home, come in variety of designs.
Few years back, I instantly thought of using norens when I wanted to give my home a Japanese touch. I began to hunt for noren with designs of ukiyo-e (浮世絵 / picture of a floating world), which is a typical genre of Japanese woodblock print. However, norens of this choice are rare and expensive. Being poor and fussy, I had a hard time finding the pictures I want.
Finally, the bland living room began to take a toil on me. I ended my search and decided to make my own norens! Miraculously, I sewed two sets of split curtains (with horrendous stitch-works). Next, I picked two classic ukiyo-e as my noren designs.
Kitagawa Utamaro (喜多川 歌麿) was my most revered Ukiyo-e printmaker. He was known for his masterfully composed women prints (Bijinga / 美人画). Hence, I chose two of his work as my references and painted them onto the norens.
Though they are no longer displayed after I have migrated to Japan in December 2008, they remained my prized possessions. The two norens had served well as decorated fixtures in my former living room, and they had always thrilled me whenever I walked through them.