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JAPANESE TRADITIONAL CRAFTS

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Nagoya Yuzen

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Nagoya is a capital city of Aichi prefecture, which is placed in the center of Japan and known for Oda Nobunaga. Unlike such standout character, the tone of this area is steady and plain. Arts from this city reflect it.

The beginning of Nagoya Yuzen is the early 18th century, when Tokugawa Muneharu ruled Owari, old name for Nagooya, and supported cultural aspect of the domain. Artisans including Yuzen craftsmen also came from Edo and Kyoto and delivered their skills. Imitating Kyo Yuzen, the first Nagoya Yuzen was colorful one.

After Muneharu lost his position, scrimping and saving was encouraged. Nagoya Yuzen then changed its style to use mono or less colors and to express patterns by shade of colors. Such style might be preferable for Nagoya people. Since then, the characteristic of Nagoya Yuzen is said to be elegant simplicity compared to Kaga Yuzen’s delicate and Kyo Yuzen’s gorgeous.

The technique of Yuzen dyeing here is roughly categorized in two types. Drawing by hand or stencil dyeing. The protection against dyeing (to draw patterns) is, as Yuzen technique usually depends on, starch made from rice. The beautiful gradation of pastel blue, purple, pink, and even white shows the backbone of Nagoya residents.

The most popular color, however, is black for very public occasion. When Nagoya Yuzen artisans create black kimono, they use a technique called “Torobiki Kurozome”. This technique uses a pattern paper to protect against dyeing. After the first quick dyeing, the pattern was covered by starch and the fabric is soaked in a dye in higher temperature and longer time than ordinary dyeing. This step make the black thicker and deeper. A family crest is hand drawn after the dyeing.

While many crafts making adopt specialization, the steps to produce Nagoya Yuzen, from designing to finishing is done by one artisan.

Nagoya Yuzen was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1983.


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