A week before I flew home to the UK for Christmas I joined a delightful trip organised by a JET CIR in Ina 伊那市. After making mochi and eating said mochi we all visited the famous silk museum in Komagane 駒ヶ根市. It was really interesting to find out about the culture and history surrounding the silk making industry in Japan, and some of the work on display was really beautiful.
I took a moment to speak to one of the guides and she told me that "many, many years ago" (around 3000 BC) China's method of silk production was a violently-guarded secret. Indeed anyone revealing the secret of smuggling silkworms or eggs outside of China was put to death. However, it eventually reached Korea and then Japan with Chinese emigrants, and Komagane in Nagano was a hub of silk-production. Every household in the area had a loom downstairs and silkworms upstairs and this was a way of life for the people.