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  • 執筆者の写真伝統屋 暁

Nishijin Textile ----- the traditional crafts along the Old Tokaido Road


Konnichiwa! Hallo everyone!

There are many wonderful fabric products in Japan. Today I would like to introduce Nishijin- ori, a brocade woven in Nishijin area in Kyoto, as the final stop of the Old Tokaido Road is Kyoto!!

The old Tokaido Road was the main walking trail between Tokyo and Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. It was an important road for samurai, officials and merchants during Edo period (1603~1868).

If you want to walk the whole trail, it is about 514 km and it will probably take you around 21 days, and what makes us surprise is....

our shop owner made it all the way through to Kyoto on foot!!!! He challenged from September 1st to 23rdCongratulations!!

If you are interested in, please check out his YouTube channel and subscribe it! (Now only Japanese subtitles is available)


So let's move back about Nishijin textile, a representative Japanese silk fabric!!

【What is Nishijin textile?】

Nishijin textile is a figured cloth produced in Nishijin area in Kyoto.

Dyeing the threads before they are woven is one of the fundamental features of Nishijin textile. It is combined various patterns to create a beautiful yet complex pattern with using dyeing threads.

Nishijin textile obi sash is said to be the most dignified woven obi sash, and is often chosen for formal wear.

【History of Nishijin textile】

The manufacturing of textile in Kyoto began around the 5th century. It begins with Mr. Hata, who came from Korea, settled in Kyoto, Uzumasa.

It is said that he have introduced the techniques of sericulture and silk fabrics.

In addition, the public hall called “Oribeno-tsukasa”, where the managing of the textile of the Imperial court was established. The craftsmen living in the area were encouraged for its development in sophisticated textile production.

After that, the civil war "Onin War" that lasted for 11 years occurred in Kyoto in 1467.

As the war ended in the Muromachi era, textile craftsmen who were spread out across the country, returned to Kyoto

Then, the production of textile was resumed around this area, where it used to be a territory occupied by a western military troop during the war.

The name of “Nishi(west)-jin(territory)” was derived from the territory of the western military troop.

Eventually, by incorporating the technology transmitted from China, they came up with a new woven fabric called Mon-ori (figured cloth), which weaves colors and patterns, and laid the foundation for high-class Nishijin textile.

【Process of Nishijin textile】

To produce Nishijin textile requires more than 20 separate processes. There are specialized craftsmen for each technique. It is difficult to complete the textile if even one person is missing, so it is important to keep the craftsmen in all processes.

The following is a brief summary of quite a few processes.

1.Design composition

The most important. The stage of thinking about the blueprint of the textile.

2.Primary ingredient preparation (thread dyeing)

Dyes silk thread to the specified color. You can adjust the thickness of the thread by combining several thin threads, or apply a special twist to the thread to give it a texture.

3.Weaving machine preparation

Prepare the machine to weave with a device called "Soukou." Pull up or down the warp thread to open the way for the weft thread. (Actually this is difficult to explain in words! If you are interested in, please try it!!)

4.Weaving process

Using a weaving machine or handloom or by hand. One of the oldest methods of Nishijin textile is weaving with specially shaped human nails!


For example, a wire is woven at regular intervals in order to give a unique texture.

It is a brief introduction, but you can see that Nishijin textile take a lot of time and valuable.

It is thanks to superb workmanship that Nishijin textile continues to flourish as a mainstream traditional textile craft.

【Variety of weaving styles】

Nishijin textile is designated as one of Japan's Traditional Craft. It employs a variety of different weaving styles. There are 12 types and I introduce just 3 of them. The designs vary from simple to elegant!


"Tate" is vertical, "Nishiki" is brocade, so this literally means a warp brocade, the texture of the pattern is woven by the warp. If a textile includes three colors, the textile is woven with three warps.


It is a plain weave that uses hand spined silk fibers. Hand-woven silk floss is used for weft and warp. It is woven by using a handloom.


The textile is normally single layered, however, some textiles with multi-layers. Double-layer weaving is called “Nishoku (double-colored) -Futsu”, which is capable of displaying both colors at the same time on the front and back side.

The image of high-class obi sash is firmly established, but recently, knick-knacks and accessories made of Nishijin-ori fabric have become popular so that we can touch our traditional culture more closely and around! *♪¸¸.•*¨・:*ೄ·♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪✧*♪¸¸.•*¨・:*ೄ·*♪¸¸.•*¨・:*ೄ·♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪✧*♪¸¸.•*¨・:*ೄ· We deliver you Japanese genuine skill with warmhearted crafts. Please enjoy our lineup!



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