Woman at Niagara Falls keeps Japanese art and culture alive with creations

In 2009, Rie Sporar was back in her native Japan with her youngest daughter for a trip when she came across her late grandmother’s old silk kimono stored in her mother’s closet. It sparked an idea in the mind of the Niagara Falls woman.

“I thought, maybe I can do something with that,” she said. “It’s part of the culture I wanted to pass on to my children.”

So Sporar, who came to Canada in 1999 to study at Niagara College and ended up meeting her future husband while working at a local hotel, began making eye-catching jewelry and accessories such as handbags. using vintage kimono fabric and used belts. with them, called obis.

JunNa Design – a combination of the first names of her daughters Jun and Hana – has since earned a name at craft shows and on Sporar’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

Sporar, who has traveled to Indonesia, Easter Island, Spain and Morocco in addition to return trips to her homeland around the world, said these adventures made her realize the importance to her of get to know and keep alive their own indigenous culture for their families.

“Canada is a new country, which I love, but Japan has so much history that we have to pass on to new generations,” she said.

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada, and the federal government has declared it an opportunity for all Canadians to learn about the many accomplishments and contributions of Asian Canadians who, while throughout our history, have done so much to make Canada the country we share. today.

Sporar uses the traditional artisan technique of tsumami zaiku, a delicate process of pinching material to make kanzashi flowers, as part of his home business.

“It takes a long time,” she says. “It takes nearly three hours to make a flower.”

But for Sporar, it’s time well spent if it helps pass on ancient art techniques and a rich culture. She noted that in Japan, kimonos are now only worn for special occasions, such as weddings.

“It’s such a waste because they’re so beautiful,” she says. “That’s why I wanted to do something with (kimonos) for other people to enjoy.”

At craft shows, Sporar said she meets people who have never been to Japan but are surprised at how amazing the creations can be. “I also meet people who have been to Japan who buy handbags to remember the beauty of Japan,” she said.



Sporar can be contacted by email at [email protected]

She can also be reached on her Instagram page at www.instagram.com/junnadesign and through her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/junnadesign1.

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