Traditional local toys with brightly colored vegetable-dyed cotton yarn, made in the Seisan region of Kagawa prefecture

The Richness of the Sanuki Plain
In the northern part of Kagawa prefecture, the Sanuki plain spreads out facing the Seto Inland Sea. With a landscape dotted with mountains and a warm dry climate, the area flourished in the Edo period (1615–1868). The most famous local products were wasanbon sugar, salt, and cotton, which collectively were known as the three Sanuki whites. Sanuki kagari (embroidered) temari ("hand balls") are local toys that use cotton, one of the three whites. In 1987, the balls were designated as a Traditional Craft of Kagawa Prefecture. Currently, over 150 members of an association for the preservation of Sanuki kagari temari, led by Araki Eiko, is preserving techniques and striving to make the temari more widely known.
The history of Temari
The origins of temari lie in kemari (foot balls) that originally came from China. In the Heian period (794–1185), playing kemari became an elegant pastime for the noblity. The original balls were made from deer skin. However, by the Edo period (1615–1868), most balls were godenmari cotton hand balls, hand crafted by palace ladies in waiting. With time, the relevant techniques spread to the villages, where hand balls began to be made as children’s toys. It is said that, in the late Edo period, Zen priest Ryokan (1758–1831) always had a temari in his breast flap so that he would be ready at any time to play ball with children. The temari preserved as a memorial to him tells us what  temari looked like in the Edo period.
Sanuki Kagari Temari Preservation Association
Kagari temari, in which silk and cotton are embroidered in multicolored geometric patterns, developed with great individuality in each region nationwide. However, as the Meiji period (1868–1912) began, the arrival of functional rubber balls led to a decline in temari, including those from the Seisan region of Kagawa prefecture. In the 1960s, the Kagawa craftsman Araki Keiyū, when investigating local folk handicraft and local toys, learned about the survival of traditional temaki in the city of Kan’onji and strove to revive and spread the relevant techniques. In 1983, with his wife Yaeko, he set up the Sanuki Kagari Temari Preservation Association in Kan’onji.
Temari embroidery patterns (1 ):  Squares and stylized chrysanthemum
A combination of a geometric pattern and a chrysanthemum. The feel of the ball can be varied using the same method depending of the number of threads used and their positioning.
Temari embroidery patterns (2):  Chrysanthemum
A typical temari pattern. Beautiful tones  are produced by cotton yarn dyed with vegetable dyes. If the yarn is dyed gently, natural soft tones emerge.
Temari embroidery patterns (3 ): Bamboo basketry pattern
The pattern is arranged like hexagonally plaited strips of bamboo in a basket. In this embroidered temari a natural or real-life motif is skillfully turned into a pattern.
Temari embroidery patterns (4):  “Shibaraku”
A pattern based on the iconic actor's costume in the Kabuki Juhachiban play “Shibaraku.” Expressed on a sphere, this representation becomes especially unusual and interesting.
Sanuki kagari temari techniques (1)   Natural dyeing cotton yarn
The cotton yarns used for temari are colored with traditional vegetable dyes, with no reliance on chemical dyes. After base dye has been applied to the cotton yarn in the form of gojiru paste from soy beans, the yarn is vat dyed in a boiled dye bath. Having absorbed the soy bean proteins, the yarn is easy to dye.
Sanuki kagari temari techniques (2): Making a core from paper wrapped rice husks
Traditional Japanese temari were made with cores of cotton wool, sawdust, rice husks, fern husks, or old cloth. Sanuki kagari temari have, and always have had, a core made from rice husks wrapped in thin paper. This takes time and creates a characteristic crisp sound as the needle passes through. Unlike the past, it is nowadays hard to obtain rice husks, but the necessary volume is being secured thanks to the cooperation of local farmers.
Sanuki kagari temari techniques (3):  Creating the base ball
A round ball is prepared as a base by winding thin winding yarn round the core. Care is taken to create a sphere, and the yarn is wound randomly in various directions. Sometimes distortions are corrected by hand. The yarn is wound all over the ball until no paper can be seen.
Sanuki kagari temari techniques (4): Marking sections with dyed yarn and embroidering the pattern
The base ball is divided evenly into sections with dyed yarn, which become guidelines for the embroidery of the pattern. Imagining the temari to be a globe, the North and South Poles and the Equator are determined, and base lines are embroidered. Depending on the pattern, the “globe” may be divided into perhaps four, six, eight or 10 sections. Guided by these lines, the pattern is embroidered with a needle.
Broadening the appeal of temari
The Sanuki Kagari Temari Preservation Association is investigating the potential of temari, and its members are actively pioneering new applications for this craft. Various new forms of temari have been developed that make pleasing gifts. For example, small temari attached to a string can be made into personal accessories and, with fragrant wood chips as its core, a temari can become a scent ball. These efforts are giving rise to a new group of fans and are raising interest in temari.
By: Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University in collaboration with Kyoto Women's University
Credits: Story

Information provided by Sanuki Mingeikan, Sanuki Kagari Temari Preservation Association, Bunsui Ryokan Shiryoukan Museum

Photo by Minamoto Tadayuki

Movie by:Takayama Kengo, A-PROJECTS

Text written by Tanaka Atsuko

Exhibition created by Suzuyama Masako, Watanabe Masako, Kyoto Women's University Lifestyle Design Laboratory

Edited by Melissa M. Rinne, Kyoto National Museum

Directed by Maezaki Shinya, Kyoto Women's University

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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