The Nishijin area and Nishijin textiles
The name Nishijin (literally, "West Encampment") comes from this area having been the base camp of the “Western
troops” under General Yamana Sōzen during the the Ōnin / Bunmei Wars
(1467–1477). The parameters of Nishijin district area are roughly marked by Marutamachi and Kuramaguchi streets
to the south and north, and Nishiōji and Karasuma streets to the west and east. Nishijin is not actually an administrative district, however, so its boundries have changed over time. After the outbreak of the Ōnin War, many weavers fled to
the port city of Sakai, south of Osaka, to avoid the battle conflagrations; there they encountered the new weaving
techniques of Ming-dynasty China, which in turn inspired new innovations in their own textiles.
After the war disturbances ended, these weavers returned to the Nishijin area,
forming the basis for the production of the finest and most exquisite woven textiles ever made in Nishijin. The Edo period was the
golden age of Nishijin weaving. When
it was under the sponsorship of the shogunal government,
the area produced what was called “extravagant Kyoto garb.” However, major fires in
the Nishijin area, the sudden rise of rural textile industries, famine and
recession, as well as the frequent promulgation of sumptuary laws often hurt Nishijin's
luxury textile businesses.