News Letter

News Letter

Friday, July 21, 2006

No 149

Dear Customers & Friends
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No.149.It is raining also today. Four swallow babies left the nest, and inother nest, parents seem to have the second babies of this season. Wedon't know whether the baby bird I helped left safely or not.A gentle man came to our office a few days ago, and he greeted us andsaid that he is going to open a 'soba-ya'( buckwheat-noodle restaurant )at the first floor of our building. The last unoccupied room was rentedby him, and owner of this building must be happy. However, our buildingdoesn't front main road, and I have thought that retail or restaurantmay be difficult. The gentle man seems to begin his first business. Wehopes his soba noodle is very delicious, and his store will becomepoplar restaurant. Anyway I must worry unnecessarily ( he is not a babyswallow!).Around our office, there is not so many good restaurants, so we are veryhappy that we can eat his soba noodle at lunch!
I feel I must write about kimono and antique textile more often. However,this news letter is No.149, and recently finding new theme is becomingvery difficult. Recently I got a book about kasuri published in Showa47(1973). The author 'Sadako Fukui' is the researcher of kasuri, andcollected lots of kasuri, and interviewed old women who were born inMeiji period(1868-1912) and wove kasuri in their usual daily lives. (Book Title is 'Japan Kasuri Cultural History'. The book is veryinteresting and informative. We can not introduce whole contents here,but we would like to introduce some points at random, which I thinkinteresting.
- In Japan cotton began to be produced around 1600. Before the cottonage, various natural fibers were used for fabrics, for examples,asa(hemp), 'kuzu-fu'( Fu means fabric. 'Kuzu' means kudzu. We sometimescome across vintage hakama, which is made of kuzu-fu.), 'fuji-fu'(wisteria), 'zenmai'(fiddleheads) and 'kami'(paper). We call the fabricmade of paper as 'shi-fu'. Speaking of 'shi-fu', recently I came across'shi-fu' noragi at an auction. It looks like very fine sakiori fabric,and have beautiful naturai ai color. The touch is soft and at a time itlooks strong enough, and very difficult to imagine it is made of paper.Owner took out one weft, and showed us how the paper is used as weft.Stripe of paper is twisted as a thread, and when he opened it, it wasreally a stripe of paper! It was amazing to see the material of thebeautiful noragi turned out to be paper!
- You must already know, dyeing with natural ai is very elaborate andinefficient work. To get deep and beautiful ai color, dyer must dip andsqueeze more than 20 times. It was men's work, and adult man could dyeonly 8 kasuri fabrics and 5 stripe fabrics in a day. Chemical indigo(ai)was imported in Meiji 20(1888), and there was a commentary that chemicalindigo was mixed to natural indigo from Meiji 23(1901). In Meiji 40(1907), ai field came down to 25% compared to 10 years before.
- The oldest kasuri in Japan is considered to be 'Satsuma Gasuri' inKyushu (1740). The next is 'Yamato Gasuri' in Kinki district near ouroffice(1751-1764).
- At the peak of Kurume Gasuri production ( Showa 2 (1928) ), approx 54% of the whole production was woven by prisoners. It was woven in 75 prisons,not only all over Japan but also prisons of Korea and China. What a astrange destiny a Kurume Gasuri kimono has! The Kurume Gasuri we send toyou may be born in cotton fields of the United States, imported to Japan,dyed in the Kurume, exported to the prison in Korea, woven by a prisoner,imported to Japan, worn by a Japanese student, stocked for long time intansu, came to our place and send to a customer United State! ( * Mostof Kurume Kasuri cotton material were imported from United States andIndia.)
- At the peak of Kasuri production, Bingo kasuri accounted for 66 % of whole kasuri production. As you know, Bingo kasuri is machine wovenone, and textile is comparatively thin and stiff. However, kurume makerproduced modern design kasuri, and they were very popular at that time.It is incredible, but weaver in Yumigahama and San'in district were saidthat their hand spun/hand tied/hand woven kasuri were too thick anduncool. Unbelievable!
- Kasuri weaving factory girl's life in Meiji period(1912-1925) is asbelow. 'Girls had to quit school at the third-grade of elementary schooland became a factory worker. They worked 14 hours a day, and three yearsafter, they were given weaving machine, and after five years work, theywere given 'kyodai'(dressing table). They married and had severalchildren, and wove their cloth by themselves with weaving for wages.'Their lives are also unbelievable!
- We sometime get antique futon. Usually they are very small ( 87-105cm- 34-41in long). We didn't know why, and we thought they were forchildren. But I found a comments of old man in the book. 'Smaller futonis more economy. It needs less cotton padding. And also sleeping with exposingthe feet is very healthy.' We understand why the antique futon is verysmall. It is not only because people in olden times were shorter thannow.
Thank you very much for reading to the end! Tomorrow we will list haori,karinui, yukata obi & bolts. We will list also cute Japanese antiquesselected by Hisami. Recently we got lots of uchikake(middle grade ones,more than 70 pieces ) and obi design sheets. We will list them this week.Don't miss them!

**We are sending Ichiroya News Letter - the information of new arrivals and bargains. If you would like to join our mailing list, please visit here:
Ichiro & Yuka WadaKimono Flea Market "ICHIROYA"
e-mail: info@ichiroya.comaddress: Asia-shoji Bldg.301 1841-1 Nishi 1 chome Wakamatsu cho Tondabayashi city Osaka 584-0025 JAPANTEL&FAX ****( international number ) - 81-721-23-5446


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