portrait 006 : Yoko Orihara : Sunny-side up orange




< hats off to the master Tanaka >


I met the straw hats he made at a local department store.  The label shows the full name “Yukio Tanaka”, the master of the straw hats workshop.  I found it really something, and was thrilled by its simplicity, and took one of them to home.

I was still young and was afraid to talk to the master then.  After I opened a shop for children’s clothing, ideas of the matching hats for parents and kids came up, and I decided to visit him.  He listened to me and said like, “OK, what do you want ?”  Then the story began slowly.



It was not easy to run a shop and do parenting at the same time, so I took some break and focused to raise children.  But even during the break, some of my customers asked me to show the straw hats, so the hats were always in my mind.



< yuzuri >


The name of my first shop “yuzuri” comes from “yuzuriha” which means  Daphniphyllum macropodum.

At the time I opened the shop, I read a poem about that tree, and it linked to my concept.  The tree stands cold in the winter time, and the leaves fall in spring, then the fresh leaves come out. I found the life of this tree is like our soul, live patiently and leave something for the next generation.  I want my place to be like that, being there even without me, leaving the coziness to my family and the people coming there.



< Wicagrocery >


After I closed yuzuri and had some break, I started my work again as “wicagrocery”.  It is a shop with hats and the things around everyday life I select. “Grocery” means grocery, and “wica” is from an ancient word, meaning witch.  That is an important word for me, but I don’ t want to take it too much and live lightly.


Since my childhood, I was always thinking why I was here for.  One day, when I saw the image of a witch on a broomstick, I thought  “Oh, I think this was me”.  I said that to my mother and she said  “yes we were”.  Of course we are not a family of witches, but my grand mother was of keen perception and a stable lady.  I could not hide anything from her.  I think I am also.


Life was not easy with too keen intuition, but now I accept my nature, and decided to live without running away from something invisible that I have been afraid of. That is what I learned from my grandmother.



< My father >


Another story about my family.

I did not get on well with my mother for some reason, and left home, and married at 21.

My mother was a daughter of diplomat, and used to work at a state guest house for foreign visitors, as a call operator.  My father called there totally by accident, and my mother answered, and he fell in love her voice.  Then he came to the guest house everyday without knowing her face, and they met, fell in love.  But those 2 young people are from totally different life, so they ran off.  Their life was like gambling, but since then, his life was to protect her from anything.



When he passed away 13 years ago, he did not tell anyone about his illness, and just asked me to take him to the hospital.  It was only a week left before he died. He called all the people he wanted to thank and farewell for 3 days, and left message to the nurse “Could you tell my daughters.  My wife cannot live alone. I will be happy if they will take care of her”.

I did not get on with my mother for some reason, but after having that message, the hard feelings dispelled.  His love for the family melted the ice between my mother and me.  It was the last present for me from him.  I want to cherish the people around me, and their feelings inside.



< color of myself  >


My color is orange.

My name comes from the sun.  I have been in the dark for a long time, but now I am out of there, and hoping to shine and light people around me, like the sun.  Probably I would have said that I was black or white a few years ago, but now, I want to be orange.



< Question from another artist : portrait 002 Marta >


Could you describe your work in 3 words?


Joy, love and encounter (like two people meet and give something best each other, and create something better than the best)




< QUESTION to the future contributors >


Now so many things are happening everywhere. How do you want to live your life ?








About Yoko :

She travels with her hats during the summer.

She is the sun even in a black dress.

She is the witch bringing love and thoughtfulness, probably.



Interview with Yoko Orihara


Photographer : Masa Hamanoi


July 2021 at studio gris II, Nihonbashi, Tokyo