THE ART AND CULTURE OF KAGA YUZEN

Explore the history and craftsmanship of Japan's most beautiful KImono

By Kaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono (2016) by Shouichiro OshidaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Kimono

The kimono is a symbol of Japanese culture that is known all over the world.

Kosode KimonoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

The present form of the kimono originated in the Heian Period (8th-12th c). Known as “kosode” to begin with, it evolved in the Momoyama and Edo periods (16th-19th c). The kimono is a practical type of clothing; as it is made from fabric cut in straight lines, it is flat when folded, and can be stored easily. Moreover, people of all body types can wear a kimono. Although colors, pattern size and sleeve length differ depending on the gender and age of the wearer, as well as the situation, motifs have changed according to fashion trends. Ancient kimono designs can be found in “Hiina-gata” books, which correspond to the fashion magazines of today.

Houmongi Kimono by Akito YusuiKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Yasuji TsurumiKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Irotomesode Kimono by Koyo NogawaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi KimonoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Although kimonos are no longer used as day-to-day clothing, they are worn for ceremonies and rites of passage, as well as for traditional cultural activities such as the tea ceremony and Japanese dance.

Omiyamairi ShichigosanKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Omiyamairi Shichigosan

At “Omiya-mairi”, people report the birth of their child, who wears a “hatsugi” (first kimono) to the local deity of the shrine, and pray for their healthy growth. At “Shichi-go-san”, parents pray for their three-, five- or seven-year old child’s health and happiness. A child’s kimono is adjusted to fit as he or she grows taller. Parents buy kimonos with patterns that reflect their wishes for their children.

Yotsumi KimonoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

At “Shichi-go-san”, parents pray for their three-, five- or seven-year old child’s health and happiness.

Yotsumi KimonoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Parents buy kimonos with patterns that reflect their wishes for their children.

Ubugi KimonoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Naoya SadahiroKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Adult Ceremony

At the coming-of-age ceremony, which is held for 20-year-olds in their home town, you can see young women wearing gorgeous long-sleeved kimonos. This type of kimono is worn by young women to look their best for special occasions.

Adult CeremonyKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Uzan KimuraKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Uzan KimuraKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Tomoo NaritakeKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Hiroshi MizunoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Kurotomesode Kimono by Koyo NogawaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Wedding

The number of Western-style weddings has been increasing, but there are still many couples who wish to have a traditional Shinto-style wedding wearing a kimono. The bride changes from a wedding dress into a kimono at the wedding reception. Normally, the bride wears a gorgeous, colorful kimono, and the mothers of the bride and bridegroom wear a kurotomesode (black formal kimono) decorated beautifully at the bottom. Kurotomesode is the formal attire for married women. 

WeddingKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Kurotomesode Kimono by Uzan KimuraKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Unmarried female wedding guests wear a long-sleeved kimono with gorgeous patterns, and married women wear a half-sleeve kimono with subdued patterns (irotomesode).

Furisode Kimono by Eiji DangishoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

WeddingKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Uzan KimuraKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Kimono patterns differ according to the occasion, the person, the season, etc. The graceful colors and designs used in Yuzen dyeing are appropriate for a variety of situations and requirements.

Five distinctive colors used in Kaga Yuzen dyeingKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Five distinctive colors used in
Kaga Yuzen dyeing

The subdued colors of Kaga-gosai, or five Kaga colors (dark crimson, yellow ocher, green, indigo, and purple) are used as the base colors for Kaga Yuzen. Elements from nature such as flowers, birds and landscapes are depicted realistically as decoration. Embroidery and gold leaf are rarely used for Kaga Yuzen kimonos; dyeing is the main form of embellishment.

Furisode Kimono by Hiroshi MizunoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Eiji DangishoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Toku YusuiKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Jinro MaidaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Katsumasa OkudaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Yumiko SebataKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Shin SugiuraKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Takeshi YamadaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Satoru AkajiKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Masanobu OotaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Hiromi MotoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Miki YamamotoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Katsumasa OkudaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Blur DyeingKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Blur Dyeing

The technique of color gradation is used in Yuzen dyeing to emphasize the realism of the designs.

Houmongi Kimono by Hijime TodoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Hiromi YabanaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Kaho HyakkanKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

MushikuiKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Mushikui

“Mushi-kui,” a technique used to depict dead leaves and create vermicular designs, is particular to Kaga Yuzen dyeing. It makes the expression vivid as the focal point of the design.

Furisode Kimono by Ichuro KakimotoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Uzan KimuraKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Kaho HyakkanKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Kyo YuzenKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Kyo Yuzen

Kyoto Yuzen is characterized by large, clear pictures in bright colors, which can be distinguished at a distance. The classical and geometrical patterns used as motifs give the impression of a gorgeous woven fabric, and sometimes embroidery and gold leaf are used for decoration.

Miyazaki YuzensaiKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Miyazaki Yuzensai

The history of Yuzen dyeing dates back to the early to mid Edo Period. Yuzensai Miyazaki (dates unknown), who played an active role in fan decoration, designed “Yuzen” patterns for kosode kimonos, and his patterns became very popular. Dyeing techniques involving the use of rice paste to prevent color transfer and partial coloring were established in those days. These techniques made it possible to use Yuzen Miyazaki’s free-style designs, and enabled a variety of expression in kimono dyeing. Yuzen dyeing is thought to have been named after Yuzen Miyazaki.

Dyed ScrollsKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Dyed Scrolls

Hanging scrolls are one of the traditional Japanese types of paintings. The picture is protected by layers of paper on the back, and framed by gorgeous woven fabric applied around the edges of the scroll. The scroll can be rolled up when not in use. In the late Edo Period, many simplified dyed scrolls were produced. As shown in the figure, both the picture and the woven decoration were dyed. Many such scrolls were produced in the Kaga region. A dyed scroll depicting a statue of the Goddess of Mercy, which was produced by Kaga’s Tarodaya dyeing company, is housed in a temple in distant Tokushima Prefecture.

The work of Kaga Yuzen artistsKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

The work of Kaga Yuzen artists

Kaga Yuzen artists are in charge of creating designs, drawing sketches and coloring. They create designs based on the sketches that they draw every day. After checking the balance of the overall design, they draw a sketch on full-scale paper. Then a white cloth is placed over the sketch and a copy of the design in blue is made from spiderwort. Rice paste is placed along the lines of the design, and color is applied with a paintbrush. Since it is the work at this stage that determines the beauty and grace of the finished product, a high level of skill and sense of color are required.

Work by Masking artistKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Work by Masking artist

Rice paste made of steamed rice powder is squeezed from a tube to draw lines according to the sketch. This process, called “Itome-nori,” creates a barrier that prevents dyestuffs from spreading to other areas. The white lines that appear after the rice paste is washed out of the cloth complement the color and pattern of the kimono and give a sense of perspective to the design. This process greatly influences the appearance of the finished kimono.

Work by Texture dyeing artistKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Work by Texture dyeing artis

Dye artisans conduct the processes of naka-ume (filling in with paste), ground dyeing and washing. In naka-ume, colored parts are covered with paste to prevent the ground color from spreading to the designs. Ground dyeing requires a high level of concentration and experience to keep the amount of dye and the brushing force constant, so that the ground is dyed evenly. In the washing process, paste and extra dye are washed out with water. This is hard work because cold water has to be used even in winter.

Preservation of TechniquesKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Preservation of Techniques

Yuzen artists not only follow the traditional style of the region, but also adopt new designs that meet the needs of the times. Contemporary artists produce Yuzen kimonos with new designs while preserving traditional Yuzen dyeing techniques and the beauty of pictures drawn by hand.

Houmongi Kimono by Miyoji IshidaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Tatsuo FujimuraKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Yucho KubotaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Shuichi KanamaruKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Tutomu DobataKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Takeshi YamadaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Furisode Kimono by Noboru HatakeyamaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Kenji MaidaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Tkashi ChadaniKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Yuzo MiyanoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Tomoji UedaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Norishige SugimuraKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Hiroshi NakamachiKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Ichuro KakimotoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Kunichika TurumiKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Tutomu DobataKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Yuichi KakimotoKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Eiryo NishikawaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

Houmongi Kimono by Kozo ShirasakaKaga-Yuzen Kimono Center

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