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Traditional Ryukyu Craft and Modern Aesthetics

Japanese kago Bag is a collection of “refined styles”, directed by Mayumi Takano, a designer who has many years of experience in Paris Collections for Japan’s leading brand YUKI TORII, and currently heads her own brand as the President and Designer. She fell upon the opportunity to touch many beautiful Okinawan crafts and was overcome with a desire to protect and maximize the potential of the culture and uninterrupted craftsmanship that has been inherited.

To materialize this feeling, she contacted true masters in respective fields and in three years the team completed Kago Bag that fits today’s style. LE KOOGAI was born.

Enchanting expression of “Coogee” evokes the rich nature of the Island.

Whip vine (Flagellaria Indica) from Okinawa is used for the material. The Islanders call it Coogee and they have been using this material in various scenes of daily life because it is light, strong and flexible. It becomes increasingly familiar to your hand with every use and its color deepens while the gloss brightens.

Kanki Tsukayama, Certified Craftsman of Okinawa, leads a group of seasoned craftsmen for weaving, and also at the Musashino-Atelier, a group of weavers with the leadership of Hiroko Hagiwara, Basket Weaving Director, work on the products.

We start by carefully making thin strips of Coogee and we incorporate simple plain weave to highlight the expressive personality of the Coogee. Within the refined impression, you could feel the warmth of handmade touch.

About Products

Ryukyu glass ornaments / MINSA Hanaori

The bag is decorated with ornamental Ryukyu glass on the front and “Hanaori Minsa” cloth cover. The Domon-ware made by Ryukyu glass craftsman Seiitiro Inamine is impressive with a unique pattern created by dissolving coral clay into glass.

 The glass born from the studio “Shizuku”, managed by Naoki and Takae Kaneshi, a married couple, both of whom are Ryukyu glass artisans, lets us indulge in the world of contemporary art.

And,the Hanaori Minsa,having three-dimensional feel,is hand weaved by Mineya Studio in Ishigaki City,inheriting the craftsmanship from the traditional Hanaori weave,which was actively woven in Okinawa as a protective cloth for safe travels. For the weave pattern,5,4patterns of square motif are applied with a wish for everlasting love and peace.

 

LE KOOGEI Product Details

Inside the bag is functionally designed with multi-purpose pockets: 2 open pockets, one pen holder and a pocket with a fastener.

The pull piece attached to the fastener is a “Sangguwa” charm piece, which is popular amulet in Okinawa, and the charm piece can be removed and replaced wherever you like.

This Basket Bag has a detachable leather handle, so it can be used as a great interior basket without the handle.

Original pin is attached to fix the “Hanaori Minsa” cloth cover to the bag.The cloth cover may be detached and could be perfectly placed as a center cloth on tables.

 

It includes an outer cover which is an Azuma style bag (evolved from Japanese furoshiki wrapping tradition), so the basket is protected when taking outdoors.

Designer

LE KOOGEI Designer Profile

MAYUMI TAKANO

Born in Osaka, Japan, Mayumi Takano studied at the ESMOD Paris as a young woman, the world’s first and oldest fashion design school founded in 1841. For over a decade she worked as a Concept Director for Yuki Torii, one of the most notable Japanese designers in the French capital, who paired with the Japanese design contemporaries of the stature of Kenzo, Issey Miyake and Kansai Miyamoto.

In 1999, Mayumi founded her own brands MYUAI and MAYUMA, specializing in fashion handbags and ladies’ purses, respectively.

In order to expand OEM and ODM businesses in the Japanese market, she founded GiL International Co. Ltd., in June 2012.

In April 2017, Mayumi launched a new private brand, MAISON MAYUMI, to expand her business including in the foreign markets. The LE KOOGEI,  her new top-value fashion flagship line that combines traditional Okinawan art and craftsmanship was officially introduced at the Paris PREMIÈRE CLASSE in September of the same year.

Kago Bag Material

LE KOOGEI Kago Bag Material

“A resource Japan can boast to the world.”

The material used for Kago Bag from LE KOOGEI is a vine called Flagellaria Indica or simply Whip Vine, which is native to Okinawa Islands.

It extends long and strong vines and grows by entangling with surrounding plants.
This material features strong and springy characteristics, and it becomes more and more familiar after use. The color will also change from light green to tan over the years and the surface will begin to gloss. Depending on the island, the name for this plant varies. People from Ishigaki Island calls it Coogee, Iriomoteshima Island folks call it Kuuchi and Okinawa’s main island calls it Tou. The material is used in many areas of daily life as a durable binding material and in Kudakashima Island, Miko (goddess) wears the stem and leaves on her head when performing rituals. Le KOOGEI took a notice of this material and transformed it into a fashionable bag.

artist_en

Artist of LE KOOGEI

Weaved Basket

Kanki Tsukayama <Chatan Takezaiku>

“Certified Craftsman of Okinawa for Basket Weaving”

The original designer who developed the LE KOOGEI prototype

3 generations of bamboo work from his grandfather. Tsukayama has been helping his father since he was in elementary school and is a Certified Craftsman of Okinawa. He is currently the only person in the Prefecture who earns a living with bamboo work.
After many years of apprenticeship, he established his own business in 1989, the first year of Heisei Period in Japan. Having thoroughly inherited the fundamental craftsmanship, he not only makes Okinawa’s traditional Baki (strainer), Teal (basket) but in recent years he is creating flower vase and traditional dance props. At the National Tree Planting Festival held in Okinawa in 1993, he had the honor of making the “baskets for seedlings” used by the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

Hiroko Hagiwara

Weaved Basket Instructor/Author

The product developer who brought the ideal line to life

1984 Begins basket making craft
Earned Instructor qualification from Yasuko Yoshiyasu Rattan Craft Educational Center
Earned Master level qualification from Masakatsu Hasegawa
2002 Began tenure at the Sousai Kai Organization for Arts by the General Public
2016 Since 2016, Hiroko has been organizing Hiroko Hagiwara Group Exhibition
2018-March Appointed as Basket Weaving Director for “LE KOOGEI” and has been engaged in development of baskets.
2018 Received the Minister of Education Award at the 38th Sousai Exhibition

Ryukyu Glass​

Seiitiro Inamine < Kizuna Glass Workshop >

Ryukyu Glass​

Ryukyu glass is a revived waste glass made by the human hands in a purposely unrefined manner while retaining its simple natural colors. The warm texture is similar to pottery and the technique of “bubble glass” especially enhances the feel. 
The innovative method called Domon-yaki is performed by pouring hot glass into Okinawan clay mixed with water, which creates design patterns on the surface. Depending on how thick or thin the clay, or the temperature of glass, various expressions come alive. He is constantly engaged in innovative methods to pursue new figurative sensibilities. The once discarded glass wears a perplexed expression upon encountering the innovative method and unique sensibility which transformed the glass to the height of beauty never achieved before. 
In 1995, he joined his father Seikiti Inamine’s Blow Glass Studio called “Niji”. Ever since then, Seiitiro has won many awards at Okiten (art exhibition in Okinawa) and other Traditional Art Crafts Exhibitions. He started his own Ryukyu Glass Studio named “Kizuna” in 2015.

Naoki Kaneshi < Shizuku Glass Studio >

Ryukyu Glass

Naoki Kaneshi “Ryukyu Glass”
One shizoku(Japanese word for a dew or water drop) to thank family/colleagues/and friends. One shizoku to thank customers and those who came before us that created Ryukyu Glass and developed it into what it is today. One shizoku for the nature of Okinawa.
The glasses from Shizuku Ryukyu Glass Studio are made with many thanks.
While inheriting the tradition, we will continue to engage in progressive glass making and would like to drop a shizoku for you as well.*

Takae Kaneshi < Shizuku Glass Studio >​

“Tonbotama” 

Takae Kaneshi “Tonbotama”
1977 Born in Yomitason village 2002 Joined blow glass studio “Takumi”, began creating burner works.
2006 Joined Ryukyu Glass Studio “Teida”.
2007 Selected by Okiten exhibition. Hosted a studio exhibition, “Teidano Kagayaki” at the Ryubo Art Salon
2008 Selected by Okiten Exhibition
2009 Selected by Okinawa Traditional Arts and Crafts Public Contribution Exhibition
2010 Selected by Okiten Exhibition
2012 Established Tonbotama Studio ta-ma.
Selected Arts and Crafts Public Contribution Exhibition.
2014 Established “Shizuku” Ryukyu Glass Studio together with her husband in Yomitason Village.

Hanaori Minsa

Sachiko Takahashi <Hanaori Minsa - Mineya>

“The founding Weaver of Ishigaki Island”

Hanaori (flower weave) had been actively woven in Okinawa as a protective cloth for safe travels in the past, and it exists today in the traditional performing arts. History can be observed in the colors and patterns on the cloth ribs, hanaori and vertical stripes. It reminds us of weave patterns from the far south. The bi-colored warp is twilled, and the yarn is scooped when woven. Hanaori has a unique weaving method where the warp is two colors and the weft are seen on the reverse side, creating a unique cloth surface while having different expression on each side. In the shadow of Yeyeyama-jofu, hemp cloth from, which prospered greatly, Hanori saw its decline for a long while, but in 1989, our president “Sachiko Takamine” coined the name “Hanaori Minsa” while incorporating the weaving method of Hanaori to make the Minsa cloth. Even today, she continues her quest for Hanaori method from the long past while continuing to propose hand woven cloth that is sustained within the balance of tradition and creation and in our modern life.