Though they are braided tightly in the style of traditional Japanese kumihimo ("braided strings"), Noriko Yūki's accessories don’t come across as typical traditional works. Maybe it’s the way she uses natural tones. More likely, it’s the manner in which she incorporates glass beads and charms from all around the world into her unique braid-work.
Combining fragments from different cultures into a single work could result in a messy kind of ‘monster’ accessory. But Yuki never lets this happen. To give each of her accessories a consistent quality and appearance, she slowly applies the 14,000 year-old kumihimo tradition.
Peru, Japan and the World – Intertwined
Yūki admits that she first discovered the art of cord braiding through Peruvian folk art – not Japan’s kumihimo tradition. The two techniques are quite similar, what is done on a circular disc-shaped platform called a marudai as one of many ways in Japanese Kumihimo, Peru’s traditional art involves using one’s own hands as the braiding platform. After first learning the Peruvian style, Yūki proceeded on to the more complicated art of Japanese braiding.
While Peruvian braids are created from wool, Japanese kumihimo use silk. Because the threads are thinner, silk allows artists to create patterns that are more intricate and colorful. Though it was more difficult, Yuki found that she could better demonstrate her creative impulses with kumihimo.
“The only reason I stay with kumihimo is because the art has so much depth… I’m still learning the techniques.” Yūki continues, “I have always loved cord braiding. However, the Peruvian tradition was a little too utilitarian for me. I wanted something that allowed for more self-expression. Kumihimo seems to suit my desire.”
String that Connects
Yūki’s unique work connects not only diverse cultures, but also traditions and modern life. It is no wonder that people around the world find it appealing.