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Kaga Yuzen

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Kaga, current Ishikawa prefecture, is known as the production center of various traditional arts such as Japanese lacquer wares and Makie decoration.

Kaga Yuzen is one of such arts born in this prosperous area.

Even though Yuzen dyeing technique was developed by Miyazaki Yuzensai, a fan painter in Edo era (1603-1867), unique dyeing methods, such as Umezome have existed since about 15th century and was one of the local specialty of Kaga domain since Kamakura period.

In addition, Kenbo zome and Iro Mone were used as dyeing techniques in Kaga domain and were called Okuni Zome (domestic way of dyeing).

In the middle of Edo, Miyazaki Yuzensai, who spent his later years in Kaga, brought drawing-style dyeing technique and taught artisans there. Then Kaga Yuzen started to develop its own style.

The characteristic of Kaga Yuzen is represented by its dynamic and elegant drawing of birds, flowers, plants in various vivid colors. Comparing to Kyo Yuzen, which the decoration is more like patterns than pictures and uses lighter colors, Kaga Yuzen depict details of the nature with plenty of colors, called “Kaga Gosai” and including indigo, crimson, green, ocher, and dark reddish purple.

Special dyeing techniques for Kaga Yuzen, including Soto Bokashi (gradation from outside to inside) and Mushikui (drawing diseased leaves as accents) were developed to emphasize such characteristics.

Basic procedure for production is not so different from Kyo Yuzen. Itome Norioki (starch made from rice) is used to protect the drawing lines. After the first dyeing step, picture is drawn and steamed for fixing. Then excessive dust and starches are washed off. The last procedure is often seen in the Asano River in Kanazawa city.

Kaga Yuzen was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1975.


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