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Interview - Martina Umemura

28 Feb 2020

Haramaki-Boshi: colourful knitted greetings from Japan

Martina Umemura

Martina Umemura has lived in Japan for about 30 years. The natural scientist turned her hobby, knitting, into a profession and has been running a wool trade in Kesennuma in the north of the largest Japanese island Honshū for nine years. A level five earthquake and a tsunami raged here in 2011.

"I am really happy when I am knitting and my mind is free of disturbing thoughts," says Umemura. She wanted to share this joy with the victims of the natural disaster. This is where the idea of "Umemura Martina Kesennuma FS Atelier Co, Ltd", KFS for short, a company founded in the tsunami region to create attractive jobs, came from. It distributes German wool and knitwear products throughout Japan and thanks to a close cooperation with the company TUTTO Wolfgang Zwerger GmbH, there is now KFS wool on the Japanese market, i.e. special colours that spread smiles and cheerfulness. The colourful wool is particularly suitable for so-called Haramaki-Boshis, which are introduced to h+h cologne visitors by Martina Umemura in a workshop. In the interview, Martina Umemura explains exactly what this is and how the Japanese handicrafts sector actually differs from the European one.

Martina Umemura: Haramaki-Boshi

Haramaki-Boshi: What is that?

Haramaki is Japanese and means belly flatterer. Boshi is also Japanese and means cap. So Haramaki-Boshi is a cap that has the shape of a flatterer and is cleverly turned into a reversible cap. The knitting here is really very easy, as it works completely without any stitch removal. The result is a groovy and very warm hat in no time at all, as it is double-knitted afterwards.

How does the Japanese knitting industry differ from the European one?

In Japan, knitting instructions are not so much explained in words as in drawings and knitting fonts. In addition, more is crocheted than knitted.

What can participants expect in your workshop?

We will knit a mini-Haramaki-Boshi together, which can be worn as a hand warmer. The material for this will be provided. The colourful opal wool will come out even more colourful with simple techniques! I also have a Japanese colleague in my luggage. Together we will gladly answer all questions about Japan and of course the Haramaki-Boshis.

Thank you very much for the interview!

Author: Antje Bussinger