Monday, January 31, 2011

Kojo Moe: “factory love” (工場萌え, koujou-moe)

A friend recently sent me a cutting from the WSJ  (Jan 24, 2011) about a new pursuit for avid Japanese tourists:  they are flocking to industrial sites, like  steel mills:

hamilton bay full 
Rusty Answer  41”w, 24”h

There are charter bus tours all over Japan to view factories, power plants, oil refineries, smoke stacks, cement factories and all the other sites I’ve enjoyed making quilts about. I’m not alone! I’m a factory lover!!


Steel yard Frieze 35”h, 68”w
This quilt is going to be in the QSDS show at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus, OH


The buses stop at selected points for much camera clicking accompanied by “amazing!” and “factories can be beautiful places”.

Strange Beauty 40”h, 55”w

At least part of the reason for the phenomenon is the loss of such sites to other countries; as, in the USA and much of Europe, major manufacturing plants have been moved to India and China.  People are beginning to realise that these sites have a strange sad beauty of their own.  Even as they polluted our air and water, at the same time their oddly elegant shapes and configurations of dynamic diagonals so rarely seen in solid square domestic architecture have added to the richness of the landscape.


Heavy Metal  42”h, 41”w

Kojo Moe means “factory infatuation” and it’s growing rapidly. What were bleak industrial zones are now being penetrated by busloads of camera laden sight seers.   Reservations for night time tours (known as “factory night  view jungle cruises”) of brightly lit chemical factories against dark skies are booked up for months ahead.



what lovely smoke full
What Pretty Smoke! 43”h, 36”w


steel reflections 

Steel Reflections,
18”h, 24”w




cement works

The trend has become so popular there are specialized internet groups devoted to it, several books, and many old industrial towns are now encouraging tourists.  They are trying to change the laws so that old factories and plants can qualify as World Heritage sites!

As Ken Ohyama says: “factories are cool-looking”! 

Arn’t they just?!!


Cement Works 40”h, 42”w

Thanks for reading! and now to head out with my camera………..Elizabeth


mjb said...

When I was a kid and we were driving through TX, I loved when we were passing by the oil refineries at night - so beautiful and unique to see those flames lighting up the sky.

Faith said...

I have to admit that factories don't have that appeal for me, though I find it fascinating that you make such lovely quilts based on them. Also rather fascinating how they are tourist attractions. Maybe having grown up around and worked in a factory are part of my lack of enthusiasm.

Elizabeth Barton said...

actually I grew up within sight of a gasometer and my first job was in a beautiful old Victorian chocolate factory!! so I look on these sights with a mixture of nostalgia and horror!!

Del said...

I once worked at the Gen'l Motors facility in South Gate, CA, not on the line, but on the switchboard. The stacks were my beacon to find my way. And then I married an engineer who included mines, factory, refineries, power generating plants, etc., in our vacation plans. Maybe that is why your 'industrial' quilts appeal to me. Hope the Japanese tourists will become interested in adding your quilts to their walls.
"nommoma" is the magic word now.

Jane Herlihy said...

Elizabeth, I have long admired your factory quilts and I bet these Japanese tourists do too! Do they know about your factory art??

naveera said...

“Nice Sharing. Latest Jobs in Asia and Gulf at”