Arimatsu tie-dyeing

Arimatsu tie-dyeing Arimatsu narumi shibori

Contrast between the shades of cotton and indigo
Classic example of tie-dye renowned throughout the world


What is Arimatsu tie-dyeing ?

Arimatsu Narumi Shibori is a tie-dye fabric produced in the area surrounding Midori Ward in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Most of the tie-dye products in Japan are produced here. The tie-dye products are designated as a traditional national craft. Arimatsu Narumi Shibori is also referred to as Arimatsu Shibori or Narumi Shibori.
The characteristics of Arimatsu Narumi Shibori are the contrast in shading that is created when the fabric is tied and the distinctive texture of the pattern. Currently, there are more than a hundred kinds of methods available for Shibori including Nuishibori (sew and tie before dyeing), Kumo Shibori (spider- web shaped pattern), Sekka Shibori (flower pattern), Miura Shibori (tie-dye method invented by the wife of a doctor in Ohita) and Kanoko Shibori (dappled pattern).
The 1st International Shibori Symposium was held in 1992 and since then the Shibori network has spread around the world. The Arimatsu area and Narumi area are now regarded as the mecca of Shibori. The pattern is valued as SHIBORI all over the world.


Arimatsu tie-dyeing - History

Arimatsu Narumi Shibori originated in the early Edo period (1603 – 1868). The technique of Shibori started in the Nara period (710 – 794), however, Arimatsu Narumi Shibori was first created when people from Higo (currently Oita) came to help build Nagoya castle which was under construction between 1610 and 1614. After seeing the Shibori Kimono worn by the Higo people, Shokuro Takeda who had settled in Arimatsu, made a towel with Shibori using Mikawa Momen (cotton produced in Aichi Prefecture). That marked the beginning of Arimatsu Narumi Shibori.
A woman from Higo conveyed the Higo Shibori technique in 1655 and Arimatsu Shibori changed from then on. The technique is referred to as Miura Shibori. Arimatsu had been the center of production for a long time before that but the name of the product became Arimatsu Shibori. The name Narumi Shibori was established when travelers started buying the Shibori products at Narumi-Juku which was one of the 53 stations of the Tokaido. Arimatsu and Narumi were incorporated into Nagoya City so the name of the product became Arimatsu Narumi Shibori.

General Production Process

Arimatsu tie-dyeing - General Production Process

  1. 1. Katagami Hori (engraving a pattern) Once a product plan is made and the design is decided, a pattern is made along with the design. This is done by cutting out the pattern using a small sharp knife or hollow punch.
  2. 2. Shitae Nuri (printing the design) The design is printed on the fabric before the tying process.
    First of all, the fabric is starched and steamed to smooth the creases (Yunoshi) so that printing the design on the fabric becomes easier.
    Next, the pattern and the fabric are layered and a Surishi (printer) prints the design on the fabric.
    Shitae Nuri uses Aobanaeki (ink extracted from Asiatic dayflower) or its substitute for printing. When the Kukuri process is completed, the printed design is washed away using cold or hot water.
  3. 3. Kukuri (tying) Shibori craftsmen tie the fabric with cotton or silk threads along the design. There are specialized craftsmen for each technique. There are a hundred or more techniques that have been invented for this process. Skills and techniques have advanced over the years so different tools are used according to each technique. Typical stands for tying fabric include Ukodai/Karasuguchidai, Kanokodai and Makiagedai.
    The Kukuri process takes a long time so it used to be a side business for farmers in the surrounding area. However, recently this process has been consigned to overseas workers to reduce the labor cost.
  4. 4. Dyeing A specialized craftsman (Someya) dyes the fabric. The tied places are not dyed so the design is made based on this feature. Generally, the soak and dye method is used for Shibori (Hitashizome/Shinsen/Tsukezome), although sometimes a special method is used.
    The fabric is bleached to remove stains from printing and the Kukuri processes before dyeing it. The fabric is dyed while it is tied in various places. When more than one color is used, the fabric has to be processed to prevent it being dyed in the wrong color.
    There are a number of different dyeing methods that vary according to the kind of Kukuri and dye used but to dye fabric just once it takes over 20 times of repeating the process of dyeing and then blocking the dye. Dyes and additives appropriate for the fabric are used and the amount of dye and the method of dyeing change depending on the usage and amount.
  5. 5. Itonuki (removing threads) When the fabric is dried after dyeing, the threads that were used for tying the fabric have to be removed. Shibori uses a method to prevent the fabric being dyed by tying up certain places very firmly. It requires great attention to remove the firmly tied threads so that the fabric does not become damaged.
    Itonuki methods also vary depending on the Shibori but they are roughly divided into four methods. The Itonuki methods require detailed work and it sometimes takes 3-4 days to remove threads from a roll of fabric.
    The fabric shrinks after Itonuki so the fabric is steamed to smooth the creases and regulate the texture. Additional processing is done, if necessary, to finish the product. For example, putting the fabric into a roll or sewing the fabric temporarily for the design to become visible (Ebashiage).

Where to Buy & More Information

Tie-Dyeing Museum

Tie-Dyeing Museum

See more Dyed textiles

See items made in Aichi