RUSH GRASS (IGUSA): MEMORIES OF HARD WORKING GRANDMA


Yuko's mother's side of the family is from Kurashiki, which is known as the home of high quality rush grass (IGUSA). Before the era of mass-production, there used to be a handful of rush grass woven mat manufactures in the area just like her family. The manufactures can be extremely busy around the harvesting season at the end of summer. Assisting her husband, Yuko's grandma worked hard days and nights, managing temporary workers, harvesting and weaving the mats, stocking the finished products and talking to customers while raising four children. Yuko's mom does not remember seeing Yuko's grandma’s face during the busy season, because she was always facing towards the weaving machine. Winter seasons had been Yuko's mom’s favorite because she was able to spend some time with her mom.


Bad things happen to good people. Someone outside of the family brought an investment deal to Yuko's grandfather and it turned out to be a fraud. The devastating incident drove Yuko's grandpa into illness. After he passed away, Yuko’s grandma worked even harder to continue the IGUSA business raising the children. It was amazing for Yuko to see a happy spirit radiating from her grandma after all the hardship. She lived a happy full life until the age of 90.


Yuko grew up listening to a lot of stories about IGUSA and her grandma from her mom, but has never seen the actual operation because the business has been ended by the time Yuko was born. To her, IGUSA has been something familiar, but not special since it has been always part of her Japanese life until her career brought her to the US. While being exposed to the charms of “a melting pot” in various ways, she eventually began to reflect on her identity and culture more frequently than she used to. One day she made a casual stop at a folk craft shop in Kurashiki not long after she moved back to Japan. There, she found a few beautifully woven rush grass placemats that she felt were very special. Yuko identified the manufacture and made an appointment to visit the factory immediately. Even across the Pacific Ocean, I could feel her unusual energy.


When she saw a weaving machine in IMAYOSHI SHOTEN, she had a vivid déjà vu of her grandma working hard to make the IGUSA products. At that moment, she instantly thought she would do business with them. Her experience of working in the international environment created a new perspective for her to discover the historical and functional value of IGUSA. I am pretty sure that she will cherish the new value with her grandma’s memories and it will continue to be a pillar of our joint venture.


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