Although the notion to take up indigo dyeing came from a desire to connect with her native culture, Shihoko no longer works with the cultural connection in mind. Instead, she approaches her work with the freedom of a contemporary artist.
A lifelong Japanophile, Steve Beimel founded the Japan operations for Esprit Travel & Tours in the early 1990′s, as a U.S.-based tour company now specializing in culturally focused tours to Japan and catering to enthusiasts of the arts. Over the years, he has worked with many masters of traditional culture in ceramics, textiles, architecture, gardens, music, cuisine and religion. He now lives with his wife Ritsuko in the northern foothills of Kyoto.