Chijimi is a name for special fabric which has “Shibo”, small bumps on the surface of fabric, made by tightly twisting threads and loosen them by washing in warm water, “Yumomi”. The technique is said to be brought to Uonuma area, Niigata prefecture, from Akashi, Hyogo prefecture, and therefore, Tokamachi Akashi Chijimi has Akashi in its name.
Tokamachi, as mentioned above, is a town in Uonuma area in Niigata prefecture where is known for heavy snow in the winter. The snow can be a burden for lives here, however, it is a benefit for linen clothes which are dried on the snow.
In 19th century, people adopted the technique of this linen clothes, Echigo Chijimi, and produced very thin silk clothes with “Shibo” in Tokamachi. It was called “Sukiya Ori” (means sheer fabric). Then in the late 19th century, referring Nishijin fabric for summer from Kyoto city, Tokamachi Akashi Chijimi was produced.
This light, thin, and therefore elegant textile has its secret in the thickness of the thread. The very thin, tightly yarned thread was realized by an innovation of Hachityo Nenshiki (yarn twister), which utilize energy from waterwheel, in 1783. For Tokamachi Akashi Chijimi, threads firstly twisted 300 times/meter, and then 3000 to 3500 times/meter after they are dyed. The second twisting step cannot be done without Hachityo Nenshiki.
Tokamacih Akashi Chijimi was well marketed with good advertisements of illustration and a commercial song, and became very popular as summer kimono. After World War II the production decreased, but the production method has been taken over generation by generation.
Tokamachi Akashi Chijimi was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1982.