Sunday, 29 May 2011

Uninvited guests

....about 5000 of them. Camped out in my living room and always hungry. (With Snoopy the Silkworm Guard Queen on duty.)

This year is my 15th anniversary of silkworm raising and it seemed reasonable to take a year off as a reward for 15 years of hard work. There are a few thousand unreeled cocoons in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator from last year serving as a stock for reeling demonstrations. There are many kg of silk thread produced from home grown silk cocoons upstairs waiting to be dyed and woven.

Although the mulberry field is in prime condition and it would be a waste not to feed it to something I truly wanted to take a break and use the extra month to work.

Last autumn I purposely did not breed any moths for eggs this spring just in case my parental instinct kicked in as the fresh mulberry leaves open and drink up a light spring rain. Break time. The house construction is not finished. The shop eats up weekends. Too many projects on hold and radiating some guilt kryptonite as I walk through the house and garden. "Finish me...don't forget me... " 2011 was to be the year of no silkworms. Finish up projects and take it slow. No luck.

A month back, Matchan a painter friend showed up at the shop...."What should I do!!!! The eggs hatched and I am too busy to look after them!!!! Help!!"

I had given Matchan a dozen silkworms last year to raise and use as models for a painting. He had let the moths naturally mate and ended up with about 5000 eggs on some newspaper. In his warm painting studio they had hatched.

You can see his cute illustration of this year's silkworm's parents on the object wall in the kitchen.

It is unseasonably cool this year and the only room I can efficiently heat is the living room. They woke up yesterday from their final sleep and are devouring mulberry as fast as I can cut it. There is a typhoon on us now and cutting mulberry in the wind and rain.....wonderful.

Thinking back on all these years at all the adventures (and misadventures) with the whole silk producing processes. It really should get written it down. Something as mundane as silkworms has filled a good part of life's memories with images and emotions. Silver-blue-chilly-dewed early mornings, sweltering hot midnights or a New Year holidays spent in solitude pruning back bare branches in a desolate dry mulberry field.


  1. I really enjoy reading your blog, and I would *love* to hear more about the silkworm -> silk process. It's something I could imagine as a kind of existential/real life novel (although never having bred them I'm not sure how it'd turn out!). Maybe something like The Zen of Motorcycle maintenance, but with insects :)

  2. Ninja san...
    Funny you should mention that book. I read it when I was in my final year of high school. I still remember something about...
    'Our contemporary culture's knowledge of things is wide and shallow. We should learn to ask questions that will push the silt downstream and create some depth in our lives again... What is quality?

    Well something like that. I read it 30 years ago. I remember being woken up by that book. The beauty in intricate logical processes.

    Beautiful book. It inspired me on many levels. It still resonates. having lived here in Japan 22 years it is like I am on a cross country journey and some sights trigger up memories of my previous life in another country.


  3. should you write it, i would read your book!