Weaving – Nishijin Quarter, Kyoto
July 2, 2009
This establishment is set in a Nishijin side-street amid a streetscape of two-storey buildings in the old wooden style. Its façade is discreet and there is no signage in English. The interior is traditional too – shoes off, tatami mats. This is the “Japanese” version of Nishijin Textile Centre. I had to revisit Nishijin Textile Centre several times to take in all of the demonstrating craftsmen and women; most of the large jacquard looms were unattended, but I was able to take better photos than previously. At Orinasu and Nishijin Textile Centre, I witnessed only the `ordinary’ nishijin-ori, not the fingernail tsuzure weaving.
Orinasu turned out to be a shop, working obi weaving factory, textile outlet and museum all in one. Their website shows the kimono in their main foyer. Upstairs however was a long gallery space with examples of just about all the major Japanese textile styles – one example of each. So this is where I saw single examples of kogin,kasuri, Kurume, shima, komon, etc. Another upstairs room is home to
dozens of woven obi for sale. The shop assistant organised for four of us (a Japanese couple, a Japanese man and me) to visit the obi weaving factory area where a supervisor explained the jacquard weaving process. He showed us how the fabric was woven from the back, with the help of a mirror to show the front, the cartoon and jacquard cards, etc. My Japanese was sufficient to nod in all the right places, especially since he wasdescribing textile processes I was familiar with. One woman weaving a nearby loom, away from the commentary provided by the supervisor, was weaving silk – half a dozen continuous 1″wide temples were in place, but more curiously she brushed on ?water every inch or so (on the back of the weaving which was facing her) with a very hot bar heater set up immediately on the underside (the front face of the weaving). I doubt this was any sort of dyeing, but probably had more to do with setting the silk as she worked. Those of you with more extensive experience with silk and jacquard might be able to explain this – I hadn’t seen such proximity of heat and fibre like this before.
Here and at Nishijin I was exposed to the painted graph paper cartoon designs for the obi. Nishijin had on show the machine which punches the jacquard loom cards. Orinasu’s museum space across the road was a giant hall full of Noh costumes spread around three walls, probably designed to coincide with a similar exhibition on at the Kyoto National Museum. These large kimono/furosode were identical to the ones I’d seen in the shop foyer and in the weaving factory, so these tried-and-true designs were being reproduced.
The Trad Arts & Crafts Museum of Kyoto is one of my favourite places – it’s modern, comprehensive, free, has a great library to rummage through and a wonderful area just to sit and watch a pond and water curtain. It’s not frequented by massed tours of tourists. This is the academic version of the Nishijin Textile Centre and Orinasu. There are objects on display made from Nishijin-ori,and the following written information is provided for visitors:
Typical Techniques of Nishijin-ori
futsu, multi-layered (moire?)
tate-nishiki, warp-patterned weaving
nuki-nishiki, multicoloured wefts where the wefts create the pattern
honshibo-ori, warps and wefts with different twists are combined then immersed in hot water
donsu damask, alternate warps and wefts are raised velvet
shuchin satin, warp or weft are raised and the pattern is created with special weft threads
kasuri-ori, silk crepe (Nishijin), dye-masking paste on warps and wefts
shoha, heavily twisted yarns for both warp and weft, fine herringbone horizontal patterns or chevrons
tsumugi, embroidery over this handspun floss.
The loop video accompanying the exhibits mentioned
* tsuzure bata (initially woven with the fingers and tamped down with the filed fingernails, followed by a beater and a final run along the edge of the weaving with a “pen” before moving on to the next weft);
* monisyozu, painting the cartoon on graph paper;
* tebata, jacquard loom weaving, at an astonishing speed.
Over time, I’ll upload photos relating to nishijin-ori. Photography was not possible in Fureaikan or Orinasu, but was allowed at Nishijin Textile Centre. I’ll try to assemble all my Noh costume info for a later post, also the sagemono – smoking/tobacco stuff, as displayed at the Sannenzaka Museum off Teapot Lane (weaving incorporated into the tobacco pouches, alongside metalwork).