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STORY 3

The Artisanal World of Textiles

Yarns are dyed in a myriad of colors and hues to express delicate gradations of the designs.
Yarns are dyed in a myriad of colors and hues to express delicate gradations of the designs.
(© Bishin Jumonji)
  • Kawashima's legacy started when Jimbei Kawashima opened his first fabrics store in Kyoto in 1843. After inheriting the business, his son, Jimbei Kawashima II, went on an expedition to Europe where he learned about western interior decoration and acquired new skills through visits to many places such as the French Gobelins factories and palaces. In Japan, fabrics were traditionally not used for interior decoration. However, inspired by his trip, Jimbei II breathed new life into traditional Japanese weaving techniques, developing them into western-style interior decoration fabrics. As the pioneer in decorative textiles, Kawashima became the provider of interior decorations to the Meiji Palace. It was also commissioned to produce the nine gorgeous silk tapestries, named “Hundred Flowers and Hundred Birds in Late Spring and Early Summer,” to be sent as a gift by the Japanese government to The Hague. These tapestries still cover the walls of the Japanese Room in the Peace Palace today.

  • In 1951, Kawashima produced its first doncho (stage drop curtains) using Tsuzure-ori, a hand-weaving technique that enables complicated designs. Since then, the company has produced numerous stage curtains through its unique integrated system of production, from designing, dyeing, and preparing of the yarn to weaving the final product. As one of the world's leading manufacturers of high-end textiles, Kawashima today continues to make traditional obi and large-scale doncho, as well as modern interior decorations for homes, hotels, public facilities, and haute couture stores. Kawashima's craftsmanship is also being called on for unique opportunities to preserve Japanese culture, such as a decade-long project to restore 1,300-year-old royal textiles that were kept in the Shosoin Treasure House in Nara, Japan.

STORY 3

The Artisanal World of Textiles

Yarns are dyed in a myriad of colors and hues to express delicate gradations of the designs.
Yarns are dyed in a myriad of colors and hues to express delicate gradations of the designs.(© Bishin Jumonji)
  • In 1951, Kawashima produced its first doncho (stage drop curtains) using Tsuzure-ori, a hand-weaving technique that enables complicated designs. Since then, the company has produced numerous stage curtains through its unique integrated system of production, from designing, dyeing, and preparing of the yarn to weaving the final product. As one of the world's leading manufacturers of high-end textiles, Kawashima today continues to make traditional obi and large-scale doncho, as well as modern interior decorations for homes, hotels, public facilities, and haute couture stores. Kawashima's craftsmanship is also being called on for unique opportunities to preserve Japanese culture, such as a decade-long project to restore 1,300-year-old royal textiles that were kept in the Shosoin Treasure House in Nara, Japan.

In 1918, Kawashima Textiles launched a new factory equipped with ten 50-inch power looms for mass production of interior decoration textiles.
(© Textile Museum)
In In 1921, two large Tsuzure weaving looms with width of approximately 7m and 6m were installed. (© Textile Museum)
Kawashima’s exquisite and hand-woven Tsuzure obi of lotus arabesque design.
(© Bishin Jumonji)
(left © Kawashima Selkon Textiles Co., Ltd. / right © Bishin Jumonji)
(left © Kawashima Selkon Textiles Co., Ltd. / right © Bishin Jumonji)

Kawashima’s obi are admired by many kimono lovers for their superior quality and gorgeous original designs. Intricate designs are produced by carefully weaving in different color threads including gold. Due to the meticulous details involved, for some designs, even a skilled weaver can only complete a few centimeters a day.

28 meter-wide doncho titled “Yugaozu” (Moonflowers), woven by Kawashima Selkon, dons the stage of the new Kabuki theater in Tokyo. The gourd plant and moonflower design is based on a byobu screen from the 16th century. Coordination and collaboration amongst craftsmen are vital in making large-scale doncho, as they are woven by a number of craftsmen working on one very long loom.
(Courtesy of Kabuki-Za Co., Ltd.)
  • Story3 Herovisual: © Bishin Jumonji