Toshiko Taira, 87, of Kijoka, Okinawa, Japan. Many Okinawans used to work into their nineties, farming, and weaving bashofu, a fine fabric made from a local banana fiber. Bashofu weaving was a home-based craft, and highly valued, but there are few, if any, weavers producing the fabric at home anymore. The workshop of Toshiko Taira, 87, and her daughter, in the northern Okinawa village of Kijoka, is virtually all that is left of the art. She has been named a national treasure of Japan. She and her daughter are attempting to keep the fine practice alive. Although older generations of Okinawans are still living into their one-hundredth year, some say that the decline of weaving in the home was the beginning of the decline of the lengthy life spans of Okinawans.
- © 2005 Peter Menzel / Hungry Planet: What the World Eats / www.menzelphoto.com
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