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Isesaki Kasuri


Kasuri, yarn-dyed silk kimono with splashed patterns, is seen all around Japan. Talking about silk, then, it has been an important industry in Kanto area which was once called Kan Hashu (8 domains in Kanto). Silk fabric and sericulture had supported the development of towns in this area.

Isesaki city, which is placed in Gunma prefecture, has been grown with sericulture and waving. Isesaki Kasuri is said to begin in the middle 17th century, based on the unique fabric sericulture farmers made for their private use with utilizing odds cocoons called “Futori”.

The main feature of the clothes was vertical stripes and the stylishness and the toughness became popular among ordinary people. Isesaki Kasuri was then even sold in Edo (Current Tokyo), Osaka, and Kyoto.

During Edo period (1603-1867), the patterns and coloring were developed further. The vivid and explicit expression of geometrical patterns and natural motives are still eye-drawn. In Meiji period(1868-1912), the yarning machine was introduced into the manufacturing process, and the production amount grew. Then president of Gakushuin School, Nogi Maresuke loved Isesaki Kasuri, too, even he designated the fabric as the school uniform.

Isesaki Kasuri production was decreased in Showa (1926-1989) when western clothes was generalized, but the technique kept succeeded and currently ties, table clothes, and shop curtains are produced.

The dyeing method for Isesaki Kasuri divided into three ways, Kukuri, Itajime, and Nassen. Kukuri means tying short cotton to the thread to protect from dyeing, known as Ikat technique. Itajime is similar to wood printing, using some carved wood blocks and tying thread around the wood, then put them together and lock them, and pouring dye. The parts of thread where are tighten remains undyed. Nassen is the oldest way of dyeing, that is, color threads directly with mixture of dyestuff and starch paste. It is said that Nassen technique began in Europe 2000 years ago.

Other than yarning, most of the procedure is done by hand. Isesaki Kasuri was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1975.

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