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Kyo Nui (embroidery)


In Asuka period, some 1400 years ago, it is said that the technique of embroidery was first brought in Japan. The technique was used to express Buddha first. Later, when Heian period (794-1185) started, embroidery artisans were taken into the service of the emperor and the officials. The division was called “Oribeno Tsukasa”, the origin of Kyo Nui. Since then, embroidery techniques with multi-color silk thread and gold/silver thread was developed by the artisans.

Until Yuzen dyeing technique was established by Miyazaki Yuzensai, embroidery was a very important decoration technique for fabric. In Heian Period, embroidery artisans dressed up layered kimonos for celebrities. In Kamakura period, they added gorgeousness to samurais’ padded. In Muromachi period, stage costumes for Noh dance was covered by the colorful but elegant threads. In Azuchi-momoyama period, when flamboyant taste was loved, Kyo Nui was also used for Kosode kimonos, over-garment for samurai wives.

In history, particular expression called “Kanmon patterns” was created by merchant class. Kyo Nui played an important role to spread and develop the expression in addition to other decoration techniques, Kanoko pattern and gold/silver impressing.

After Meiji period, Kyo Nui has been used for stationary goods and artistic expressions, too. Especially, Fukusa, small wrapping cloth, and small bags are popular.

Currently, about 30 types of techniques are used to add extra beauty to kimonos and goods.

Kyo Nui was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1976.

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