Sep 05, 2023 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



I have begun a study of clothing in Tamba. When I say clothing, I am thinking of the nightgowns and bedclothes that were made long ago in the ancient Tamba province. 

In the past, the ancient Tamba Province was a large kingdom that stretched from the Tango Peninsula to Miyama in Nantan, which is where I live, and to Hikami and Taki in Hyogo Prefecture. The Tango Peninsula was the center of the kingdom and many ancient burial mounds and ruins can still be found there. Many Jomon-era ruins have also been discovered, giving one a sense of the life of the Jomon people. It is said that the name “Ni” comes from the brownish-red soil of Tamba and Tango because of its high iron content. Living in the area, one can see patches of red soil and reddish stones in mountain streams. Some of the well water also has a reddish tinge.

Red has been considered a precious color since primordial times. In the Jomon period, people painted their faces and bodies with bright red cinnabar. Cinnabar is a mercury-based mineral, and the finer it is crushed, the more vividly the vermilion red color appears. Jomon period earthenware with cinnabar has been excavated from the Kannonji-Honma and Sara-Okayama ruins in Kashihara City, Kashihara Prefecture. In the Yayoi period, cinnabar was used for the burial of rulers. Many pieces of earthenware decorated with cinnabar have been excavated from tombs. In the tombs of the Tango Misaka Shrine, soil stained bright red with cinnabar was also excavated, and a piece cut out of the soil is now in the archives of the Tango Museum as a research artifact. It is a beautiful red and the intense contrast of earth and vermilion gives the impression of the ancient colors as they were.

Silk was introduced to Tamba in ancient times and its use continues through the present day. Tango Chirimen, a traditional silk cloth, is still produced according to the ancient technique that has been handed down to the present. In the distant past, when people were laid to rest in wooden coffins dyed red with cinnabar, were they dressed in silk? Cinnabar was applied to their faces, bodies, and clothes. They were buried in red, praying for the resurrection of life. Now we see only the red vermilion in the soil of the Ni.



August, 2023



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Le Batèl
Elein Fleiss

Apr 03, 2023 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



Last July, with my friend the English artist Andie Wilkinson, I opened a store in my village (Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in South West France) where we sell vintage clothes and antique objects, dishes, books. Together we designed the layout to display objects and clothes mixed with our own artworks as though we were creating an art installation. 


This new project is not so much about selling but mostly about buying. Andie and I work independently sharing the same spirit. I buy what I find beautiful, anything that attracts my eyes. Hand blown glasses, an old metal and wood tool, a cup, a skirt, gloves, a bag, a leather purse, wool sweaters, a pile of plates, a men’s coat, a vase… I become passionate searching. Finding something beautiful is very difficult. I go to thrift stores, charity stores, anyplace where people give away whatever they don’t want. The stores are often in suburban areas or industrial zones of small towns. Most of the merchandise is ugly and of poor quality, all unsorted and there is a tone of it. I look through racks and racks of clothes, endless stacks of clothes on trays, piles of plates, shelves filled with cups, glasses, books, baskets of scarves or jewelry… I never know what I will find, if I find anything but then I find a treasure. An incredible ceramic piece for example. When my eyes see something beautiful, I am filled with emotion but it can create a dilemna : Should I keep it for myself ? « No, you have too many coats, this one is for the store ! » or « No, you don’t have any space on your cup (or teapot) shelf anymore ! » But when the desire is too strong, I keep the new item and will eventually sell another one from my personal collection. 


Doing this work since six months, I’ve learned a lot about European ceramics, the different brands that existed during XXth century. My taste evolved over time, I get tired of some colors or patterns and suddenly am attracted to a new one. It’s a mystery. I try to follow my senses as much as possible and not to think about it. Thinking could lead me to the wrong direction, for example buying something that I think would sell easily and that I don’t particularly like. I don’t want to do that. I prefer to buy something I love and that I doubt I will ever sell. But I’ve had surprises and found out there’s always someone that can share my taste. I discovered that commerce, when you do it with your heart and sensibility, is about sharing, just like publishing.


*Le Batèl means the boat in occitan (France), the original language from the region where I live.


Elein Fleiss

March 2, 2023



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Meeting room at North Village

Jan 30, 2023 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



My village has an interesting meeting place. It is a large house, about 300 years old, with a thatched roof, an earthen floor, a well-used kitchen made of wood and clay, and tables that can accommodate many people. It is more like an open kitchen for the village than a meeting place. It can be used by anyone living in the village at any time and the kitchen is open for people to bring a variety of ingredients, cook delicious food, and eat freely. It is a place to talk and to share extra food or to find some if there is none at home. If someone cooks a meal and there is not enough for the next person, someone else who can cook will cook. Those who don’t want to cook don’t have to and those who don’t want to talk can eat in peace, making it a place where each person’s comfort is respected. This is based on the principle that everyone should enjoy what is left over from the fields and farms. The food is sometimes paid for by the village budget and sometimes not. The kitchen gathers an abundance of high-quality rice, vegetables, eggs, and meat, some of which comes from the village farms that use natural and pesticide-free methods, or else from local gardens and fields. Processed goods are also made at a factory in the village and leftovers are left at the meeting place. Mutual respect among the villagers is the reason for the longevity of this place.


We also go to the meeting place when there are new ideas to propose or when we have some problems. We discuss things with the people there before raising the issues at the big village meeting. Of course, the big village meeting is also held around this table. There was one item that once came up on the agenda and developed into an interesting project. It was a question of what to do with the mountains and forests owned by the village, which had borne so many years of human intervention. After consulting with engineers, researchers, and others in various fields, we are gradually returning the mountains and forests to their natural state. This is also about restoring our own intuition and our sense of self that is reflected in our environment.

There is a day I look forward to. It is when we have a cook from the village, or perhaps from outside the village, who comes and cooks a special meal with our local foods and many people in the village gather together. At this time we might pay for the food, or else give the cooks gifts in exchange. We are all dressed up for this gathering. My current source of inspiration is the clothing of the villagers who gather here today. Just the other day, there was a sort of international cooking party. All were dressed up in such style, though I was especially impressed by the men who were dressed in work clothes that could have been more than 100 years old. An elderly woman with long gray hair who lived in the village also captured my attention. She came wearing a long European 19th century black dress remade to be worn loosely, with a small deerskin bag in her hand and Korean shoes with pointy, warped toes. Her hair was likewise styled in a fluffy 19th century knot. She radiated a sense of freedom, transcending time and place, a relaxed humor, and above all, a kindness ready to embrace everything with a rich unbounded heart.








From the top in the photo

Sun-dried bricks for meeting room

19th century’s hemp bag

Organic cotton tweed workwear made with a garabou*

*A spinning machine that mimics hand-spinning techniques, developed in the late 19th century by former monk and inventor Gaun Tatsumune.

Traditional Korean footwear “Koshin”


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Is it Fall ?
Elein Fleiss

Nov 11, 2022 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



Beige and brown trees — last Summer trees became brown, some died of thirst, green slowly disappeared from the landscape. Summer looked like Fall. Sometimes clouds appeared in the sky, it became darker and darker, we thought it would finally rain, and it did, a few drops, during five minutes. Water in the rivers was low or they were completely dry. But now it is Fall, walnut trees are bright yellow and one morning the fog came back, erasing the landscape. It was on September 27th, precisely, I was driving to a city nearby and that’s when I saw the return of fog. I live at the cross of two valleys, sometimes the fog is above us, like a white blanket in the sky, the hills disappeared and the village is left alone in the whiteness. 

Another sign of Fall is the presence of horse-chestnuts in the streets. Two days ago I picked some. A friend had just told me moths do not like the smell of horse-chestnuts. Moths are small butterflies which eat wool. Just after I found out, I took my bike and went to pick some, just in time as they had all fallen from the trees and were becoming dry. I didn’t find as many as I would have liked. I have a special love for wool, and a special love for clothes, so my house contains lots of wool clothes ! Next year I plan to pick hundreds of horse-chestnuts. 

I also noticed beautiful collars of red five-leaved ivy hanging on stone walls, in my garden the wisteria is turning yellow, and pink Japanese anemones are blooming. But still, it is not raining, yesterday it was 27 degrees and roses are still blooming.


Elein Fleiss

October 20th, 2022


Photography: Elein Fleiss



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Spring has come
Elein Fleiss

Mar 04, 2022 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



The arrival of Spring is sudden, a new color appears in the landscape, like a little light in the dark. It’s usually on the ground, a flower—yellow or purple. Where I live, the first flower is either a violet, a lesser celandine (ficaria verna) or a dandelion. These appear when the landscape is still in winter. 

Another precursor is hazel catkins, these golden bud-like flowers hanging on hazel trees. Any of these signs brings joy. Spring is coming! It might still be cold, freezing at night, but it’s undeniable, it’s happening. 

A few days later, I start noticing buds on the shrubs of my little garden and, driving on small roads, white flower buds on cherry trees or very small yellow flowers on male cornel, the first tree to bloom.

After a dormant period, the metamorphosis of nature starts again, and like a ballet, one after the other, tender green leaves will grow on trees, new flowers and herbs will come out of the ground. 

Last week I went to the “daffodils wood,” where hundreds of daffodils grow. I can pick a large bunch without any visible effect on the landscape. I was a little too early this year, and could only find a dozen that were blooming. I also started to pick wild herbs that I eat as salads, valerianella locusta, perennial lettuce, dandelion… 

When I moved to the country and started to be more familiar with nature and the cycle of seasons, I was amazed by the constant changes and how quick it happens. The plant is good to be eaten or harvested at a certain stage of its metamorphosis, before the flower grows for edibles or right when the flowers open for some medicinal plants (hawthorn for example), and this stage sometimes only lasts a few weeks. 

With Spring coming, there is another simple and renewed joy in my everyday life I am very grateful for: from now on and until late summer, I’ll have fresh flowers in a vase on my kitchen table.


February, 2022

Elein Fleiss


Photography: Elein Fleiss



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The sheep around me

Oct 13, 2021 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



I live surrounded by causses, landscapes that have been shaped by sheep farming over centuries. Sheepfold, shepherds shelters and low walls separating plots, all made of dry stone, are reminding us of this past. Causses, which are limestone plateaus , are situated several hundreds meters above sea level but are not mountains, not even hills, they are flat. On these plateaus, because of the specific composition of the ground, not much can grow. Farmers have been grazing sheep here since the beginning of time. The sheep are raised for their milk which is made into cheese. To produce milk, sheep have to have lambs every year, whom are traditionally killed and eaten for Easter, following Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions. The wool, sheared every year, is also used for bedding (mattresses, pillows, blankets) and clothes. There is one kind of sheep that is specific to the region where I live, that is commonly called ‘sheep with glasses’ because they are black around their eyes. It looks like they have black glasses on.

Nowadays sheep farming is less common here, unlike in the Basque Country where it remains an important activity.


One of my friends is a shepherd. His name is Antoine and I photographed him for my slide show, Ici-bas. He didn’t come from a shepherd family but he wanted to lead a different life. The shepherd is still a synonym of freedom and solitude, maybe similar to a traveling monk in Asian cultures. It’s hard work but you get to live in nature, with the cycles of seasons. Antoine’s sheep, of Sarda breed, are particularly beautiful. He treats them with much respect and uses  natural remedies whenever they get sick. In the Summer he moves his flock to another location so that the sheep have access to more grass. This move is called transhumance and is practiced in Europe since prehistoric times.


I recently visited the mountains of Basque country close to the Spanish border. We could see many sheep in their summer grazing, free on the land, no fences. There was different types of sheep. Among them black face manech, typical of the basque country, whose wool is particularly hard and itchy. I have a sweater made of that wool by Mary, the old woman who was spinning and knitting wool in my village. When she turned 90 years old, two years ago, she stopped her work. I am so happy I could buy several of her pieces made with raw wool and which have a very unique feel. Mary was using whatever wool was given to her by shepherds. The manech wool pieces, even though not very comfortable, are the most beautiful to look at.


I find it magic when I see sheep. These white fluffy silhouettes punctuating the land. Sometimes they look at me and when our eyes meet I get mixed feelings. I am reminded I also am a mammal.


September, 2021

Elein Fleiss


Photography: Elein Fleiss



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Aug 20, 2021 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



At the weekly “Asuka Bio-marche” in Asuka Village, Nara, you can find naturally-grown vegetables and rice, post-harvest treatment-free eggs, makomodake and mushrooms harvested in autumn, vegan burgers and smoothies, Indian home-cooking and “Indian pho” with gluten-free rice noodles, home-roasted organic coffee, and so much else. The stands of farmers and café owners are always crowded. I love to go to organic markets and always look for one when I travel. I feel enriched and energized when I see the fruits and vegetables of natural and organic cultivation, the daily careful work of the people who produce them, and the fruits of the unity of people and nature. Shigeo Tanaka and his partner Sachiko, who live and make pottery in Asuka Village, once took me to the Asuka Bio-marche. The lunch we had there, made with naturally grown vegetables and spices, was very tasty and delightful under a blue sky.

Next to Shigeo Tanaka’s kiln in the mountains, there is a naturally cultivated field which he uses to prepare various vegetable dishes. His dishes and sweets, which have evolved in a unique way by combining the practices of natural food therapy, yin-yang layering, fermentation, and raw food, are wonderfully delicious and go beyond the boundaries of home cooking. After the meal, Shigeo-san makes us coffee from his own roast. There is a well in the kitchen from which he draws the water to boil. The thoughtful and detailed dishes and drinks are served on dishes made by Shigeo, who pursues invisible and spiritual movements.

I wondered at how much time and effort goes into these naturally-grown vegetables, how much power the carefully nurtured life has, and how much is condensed in the meals made from them. When we eat these precious things, we want to consume them with all our hearts and enjoy them. Many of the vessels that Shigeo makes are in the form of ritual vessels that are dedicated to the gods. I use these vessels daily at Ryugu. It is a pleasurable thing for me to serve food on vessels that express a kind of spiritual vibration. Created in the mountains with clay, fire and him, these are things that express the vitality of the spirit.


Aug 15, 2021


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Wild grasses

Jun 08, 2021 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



Medicinal plants are wild grasses

Wild grasses are the herbs of medicine

Medicine is found in the wild


Wild grasses are connected to the ancient earth.

They have coexisted with the earth since long before mankind.


Grasses are full of life force

The minerals of the earth

The energy of the field

By taking in the power of the plants and grasses into your body

the ancient earth and the cells of living things resonate with each other

your body and mind will be in harmony

Free and easy

To use the five senses

To loosen and open the mind and body

To be bathed in the light of the sun

To breathe deeply

To take in the scent of the grass, the drops of the grass

To let the blood flow through the body

To take in the memory of the ancient earth

We call it wildflower tea.


Each grass has its own name and role

that supports the life of all living things

It provides food, clothing, housing, and spirit for all living things.


In the past, people and grasses were very close.

Once again

As in the past

as something close

Instead of keeping the grass away from the soil

Now is the time to make the wild grass our friend

We are continuing our wildflower activities with the hope that they will be useful in our daily lives


Our axis is the natural world.

To put down roots in the earth

To have a connection with the soil and the grass

To enrich our hearts and lives through grass

When we face the wild grasses and weeds

We learn that everything we need is provided for us

We don’t have to depend on others, and we don’t have to look only to the outside

Now is the time to rethink our relationship with our surroundings


We remember when we were good friends with the earth and grass

If we do that

A bond between people and plants

may be born again


With the rapid changes in the environment, the culture of wildflowers seemed to have died out

But thanks to our ancestors, we are now able to learn about it


We can again become familiar with


Cut off

Neglected plants and grasses

Wild grass


Rethinking Plants

Returning to Nature


May 27, 2021


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Mar 20, 2021 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



NONO stands as a word to worship the day/sun, moon, god and buddha.

In Kamiseya, a town with a tradition for fuji-ori, in the Tango region of Kyoto, there is a legend that it was god who taught the people how to weave the fuji cloth.

In Kamiseya, fuji-ori is affectionately called NONO.


Fuji(wisteria), kuzu(arrowroot), kaji(original paper mulberry), kozo(paper mulberry), hemp, ramie, shinanoki(Japanese linden), basho(Japanese banana plant), ohyo(Manchurian elm).

People have spun fibers taken from these plants into fabric.


As the love and wisdom of the universe and earth are embodied in the plants of this earth, we make fabrics out of these plants, and by wearing them, we are able to feel connected to the idea of being one with them.


The workings connect us subconsciously to the universe, and our consciousness as human beings will connect us with all in its entirety.

This is where the NONO will emerge.


Cosmic Wonder with Kogei Punks Sha


*Statement of the exhibition”NONO a native spirit of Kami and Cloth”


Photo: Kogei Punks Sha “Kamisuki-numa  of Kinu-numa” 2020 / Photography: Yukinori Maeda

Kinu-numa in Tochigi prefecture is known for its mythical dragon’s palace nestled in the mountains. Local lore of a weaving Princess Otohime is passed on to this day.

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The earth with Ascended

Dec 21, 2020 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



Miyama, where Ryugu is located, is a wintry landscape these days, and soon it will be covered in snow. I am working on the “Days of light” collection for 2021. For this collection, we have done away with the distinction between spring/summer and fall/winter, instead focusing on a single theme for the year. Even if you cross a summer skirt with a winter coat, they are based on the same theme and are designed to match. If you pair similar colors, you can make your own versatile collection. By combining the collections we can reduce our environmental impact and get our products to you under better conditions. We will also be able to take some time off! We’ll have more time to take walks in the forest and tend to our fields. And we will be able to deepen our practice of making art. A new art project is in the works and will be announced in March. The theme of the project will be Nono (primitive cloth) by Cosmic Wonder with Kogei Punks Sha. I’ll write more about it later.


December 1, 2020


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Ryugu no Yusuraume

Nov 17, 2020 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 



About four years ago, I planted Yusuraume (Nanking cherry) tree next to the Ryugu’s entranceway. A few days before planting the tree, Mr. Yasuhide Ono of Utsushiki gave me a very beautiful and clear Himalayan crystal. Some believe that if you plant a tree with granite underneath the roots and a crystal in the center of the roots, the tree will grow to look like a dragon’s lair. When planting this Yusuraume, I buried Mr. Ono’s crystal along with the granite. The Yusuraumehas become a lovely symbol of the Ryugu. The other day, I tried wrapping a beautifully embroidered arm cloth, made by Mr. Ono, gently around the trunk. It made me smile to see how well it looked. This tree must somehow be related to Mr. Ono.


November 1, 2020


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Ryugu no Sarunashi

Oct 23, 2020 | COSMIC WONDER Free Press 


Lantern fruit in a small-handled pot by Takashi Ichikawa


The mountains that surround the Ryugu are rich with natural forests.

When I enter the mountains, I find a hardy kiwi vine clinging to a big tree.

Climb the tree, chew on the hardy kiwifruit, fill the basket and go back down the mountain.

Let’s give some to the monkey and still there’s a lot left.

The hardy kiwifruit is small, sweet and sour, and is said to be the oldest type of kiwi.

In the field around Ryugu, I spot so many lantern fruits. They seen to be a European variety.

I enjoy their mellow flavor and unique aroma. They have a soft and supple sweetness.

These autumn mountains and fields are like jewel boxes full of fruit.


September 20, 2020




Smoked Sarunashi in a smoker

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