KEEPING the spirit of the Ainu people alive today and creating a new stage for the culture tomorrow is Tamami Kaizawa, a creator/designer from Nibutani in Hokkaido. By copying the pattern of old kimono’s, Tamami captures the essence of her ancestors designs in modern contemporary fashions.
Tamami combines the traditional designs of the Ainu people together with bright colours to create garments and accessories that have a fresh new look and feel to them. The colours, no matter how bright, come together in perfect harmony and the designs have an energising flow to them.
During her 20s, Tamami studied interior design and then went out on her own as a designer. Nature is a great source of inspiration to Tamami and it provides great energy in her designs. Talking to her, you get the feeling that she is as natural as the area from which she comes, at the forefront and constantly breaking new barriers with her design. Today, there are not many people skilled in the craft of Ainu design. The only way to learn the style of patterns is to copy them; Tamami has copied over 100 kimonos to teach herself the basics of Ainu design.
In order to create her first Ainu-inspired design, she talked at great length with the people from her district and read many textbooks on the Ainu culture and Ainu people. This process fuelled her interest in her culture and identity as an Ainu and gave her the courage and inspiration to become an Ainu designer.
Later, Tamami returned to Nibutani to the Ainu School of the Arts and was praised for her meticulous attention to detail. It was here in Nibutani that Tamami learned for herself that it was okay to be Ainu and it was okay to feel proud about her culture and heritage. Returning to Sapporo, she started to teach classes at University and this year will see her working with Ainu patterns in design for 12 years.