Yumigahama Kasuri Textiles

The traditions of ikat weaving and dyeing with Hakushu cotton

By Tottori Prefectural Government

Tottori Prefectural Government

Sakaiminato port and Mt Daisen, Yumihama-gasuri by ©Tottori PrefectureOriginal Source: Tottori Prefectural Photograph Library

Yumigahama Peninsula

Yumigahama Peninsula, home to Yumigahama kasuri (ikat) textiles, is situated on the northwestern coast of Tottori prefecture. It includes an arch-shaped sandbank, which is approximately 4 km wide and 20 km long that is situated between the Naka Sea and Miho Bay. In the ancient document Izumo-no-kuni Fudoki (Record of Customs of Izumo Province), the peninsula is referred to as "Yomi Island" and is described as a vital hub for sea transportation.

Hakushū cotton, Yumihama-gasuriTottori Prefectural Government

Hakushū cotton

The Western part of Tottori prefecture is covered with many areas of sandy soil that is optimal for the cultivation of cotton. Cotton was first grown in the region during the early Edo period and later became the site for the production of Yumigahama kasuri textiles.

Cultivation of Hakushū cotton, Yumihama-gasuriTottori Prefectural Government

Cultivation of Hakushū cotton

The cotton produced in the area (known as Hakushu cotton) has distinct characteristics including thick, highly-elastic fibers that have superior heat retention. The quality of the cotton is excellent and it is primarily used for thread production in kasuri (ikat) woven textiles, as well as futon batting. The cultivation of Hakushu cotton decreased during the Showa period (1926-1989), but since 2008 there has been a concerted effort by Sakaiminato city to revive its production by utilizing abandoned fields.

Hand spinning, Yumihama-gasuriTottori Prefectural Government

History: Edo period

The cultivation of Hakushu cotton began during the late-Edo period, developing through the work of housewives of agricultural families, who began weaving fabrics for casual work wear, formalwear, and futon coverings. Kasuri (ikat) patterns were first used between the years 1804 and 1818 in the areas of Yonago and Yumigahama. Weaving of kasuri textiles developed as a profitable side-industry, reaching the height of production in the closing years of the Edo period into the Meiji period.

Fragment of cloth with pattern showing a sacred gem, shrimp, cranes and pine trees, Yumihama-gasuri (1868/1912)Tottori Prefectural Government

Yumigahama kasuri textiles during the Meiji period

The origins of Yumigahama kasuri textiles during the Meiji period were primarily woven fabrics made for and by families in agriculture. These simple but elegant designs included auspicious patterns thought to bring prosperity and longevity to their families. 

Modern Yumigahama-gasuri, Yumihama-gasuriTottori Prefectural Government

Modern Yumigahama kasuri textiles

The craft of Yumigahama kasuri was revived after World War II, fostered by efforts of local artisans. Today, designs and patterns rich in local traditions and folklore are drawing renewed attention, spawning innovative uses -- including not only clothing, but also table runners, noren curtains, and such. These new products showcase the traditions of simple design, dramatic contrasts between the colors white and indigo blue, and the use of fine cotton fabric known for excellent moisture absorption and heat retention.

Google Arts & Culture, Yumihama-gasuri (2016-10)Tottori Prefectural Government

Thread spinning, Yumihama-gasuri (2016-07)Tottori Prefectural Government

Thread spinning

The production of Yumigahama kasuri textiles requires the time-consuming process of thread spinning. A cotton gin is used to extract cotton seeds from raw cotton. Then, a spinning wheel is used to spin the raw cotton into thread. The force of the spinning wheel creates a twisting movement, allowing the cotton fibers to be spun into thread.

How "kasuri" is made: preparing the threads, Yumihama-gasuri (2016-07)Tottori Prefectural Government

How the "kasuri" ikat pattern is created: preparing the threads

The "taneito," or standardize thread for marking the pattern, is prepared by tying together to create the base for a "kasuri" design. To do this, long "taneito" threads are placed on a special platform, over which a pattern stencil is laid down and applied with color ink to stencil the bed of joined threads.

Stencils and inked "taneito" thread, Yumihama-gasuriTottori Prefectural Government

Stencils and inked "taneito" threads

There are a variety of stencil designs. During the peak of "kasuri" textile production, the making and selling of stencils was a lucrative side business.

Tying the threads, Yumihama-gasuri (2016-07)Tottori Prefectural Government

Tying the threads

The threads to be dyed are sectioned and securely tied, using a special tape to mark areas of resist. The ink does not pass through and dye the areas that have been taped and will remain white, becoming the distinct pattern of the "kasuri."  In the most extravagant cases, there can be up to five- or six-thousand tied sections required to create a patterned design.

Dying with indigo, Yumihama-gasuri (2016-07)Tottori Prefectural Government

Indigo dyeing

Once the threads are tied, they are ready to be dyed. The craftsmen dye the threads through timed exposure to the indigo, along with multiple applications to achieve the desired deepness of color. 

Kasuri threads, Yumihama-gasuriTottori Prefectural Government

"Kasuri" threads

After the dying is complete, the tape is removed from the "taneito" threads and they are put out to dry. The sections that were covered with the tape resist remain white. The finished threads possess a dramatic contrast between the deep indigo and white.

Kasuri weaving, Yumigahama Kasuri Textile (2016-07)Tottori Prefectural Government

Woven designs and patterns

The dyed threads are woven into the weft to create dramatic patterns that possess blurred motifs unique to "kasuri" design.

Products, Yumihama-gasuriTottori Prefectural Government

Products

"Kasuri" fabric is used to make a variety of goods, including kimono, pouches, fashion accessories, coasters, table runners, business card cases, and wallets.  

Kimono, Yumihama-gasuri (1987) by Shimada EtsukoTottori Prefectural Government

Kimono

This hand-woven "kasuri" kimono with design called "Chinese bellflower and water motif" was designed in 1987 by Etsuko Shimada, who was designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property by Tottori prefecture. This masterpiece was based on traditional motifs, and imbued with a modern sensibility. Shimada has been active in teaching the traditional techniques of "kasuri" textile design to insure the continuation of the craft in future generations.

Yumigahama-gasuri Denshōkan (2016)Tottori Prefectural Government

Yumigahama-gasuri Tenshokan Museum

The Yumigahama-gasuri Tenshoka Museum is a center that documents the long history and heritage of the "kasuri" textile tradition in Yumigahama. The center includes exhibition spaces, as well as weaving workshops for primary school students and visitors. The center is also used as a venue for the Hama Kasuri Ai-no-kai meetings that bring together aficionados aiming to promote and spread the tradition and craft of "kasuri" textiles in Yumigahama.

Credits: Story

Information & images provided by:
Tottori Prefecture
Sakaiminato City
Tottori yumihama Nakamura kukuri
Kōbō Yumihama

Supported by:
Tottori-ken Yumigahama-gasuri kyōdōkumiai
Kōbō Yumihama
Kasurio Kōbō

Directed by:
Tottori Prefecture & Kyoto Women's University Lifestyle Design Laboratory

Text by:
Tottori Prefecture

Photo by:
Maezaki Shinya, Associate Professor, Kyoto Women's University
Takayama Kengo, A-PROJECTS

Movie by:
Takayama Kengo, A-PROJECTS

English Translation by:
Eddy Y. L. Chang

Edit by:
Laura J Mueller

Directed by:
Watanabe Aoi & Taoka Yuri, Kyoto Women's University Lifestyle Design Laboratory

This exhibition is created by:
Tottori Prefecture

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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