Hakata brocade Photo:Fukuoka City

Hakata brocade Hakata ori

770 years of traditions and techniques
make the unique comfort of this tight textile


What is Hakata brocade ?

Hakata Ori refers to woven cloth produced in and around Hakata of Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Hakata weaving techniques, which were originated in China, have shaped its uniqueness and highly regarded for its high quality textile throughout the ages.
It is characterized by tightly woven texture that is attained by using a number of thin warps strongly drawn by thick wefts to raise warps to the surface as a pattern. With inimitable tightness, thickness and excellent durability, Hakata Ori textile was sought after as Japanese kimono sashes called obi, especially designed for men; sashes for samurai in ancient times and loincloths for sumo wrestlers in the recent years. A unique silk rustling sound called kinunari is produced when a kimono sash is tightened, which defines Hakata Ori.
Raw silk, silk threads, purl and Japanese silk twine are used to produce an elaborately woven fabric, along with gold and silver foils and lacquered leaf. Hakata Ori boasts different types of patterned fabrics characterized by weaving techniques: Kenjo/ Kawari Kenjo, Hira Hakata, Kando, So-uke, Mojiri Ori, Kasane Ori, and Enuki Hakata. The traditional, honed techniques have been passed down for generations.


Hakata brocade - History

History of Hakata Ori harks back to 1241 during the Kamakura Period, when a Hakata merchant named Yazaemon MITSUDA returned from Sung Dynasty, China with the Kara Ori (Canton Ori) weaving techniques. In the 16th century, constant improvements by his descendant Hikosaburo MITSUDA led the techniques to the next level. Hikosaburo learned the new weaving techniques in Ming and combined them with the inherited techniques to complete techniques to give thickness to a woven fabric with a raised stripe design and willow branch pattern depicting a tokko (single-prong) and flower tray used in Buddhist rituals. The textile named Hakataori is the origin of the current Hakata obi.
In 1600, when Hakata was under the reign of the Kuroda clan, exquisite Hakata textile was presented to the Imperial Court as a tribute, bringing out five-color kenjo that represents the universe. Limited by the weaver stock system during the Edo Period, weavers in Hakata were liberalized in the Meiji Period, which resulted in the establishment of Hakata Ori Corporation, forerunner of Hakata Ori Industrial Association, to maintain the quality. Hakata Ori underwent a gradual change in the late Meiji Period while producing sashes for women.

General Production Process

Hakata brocade - General Production Process Photo:Fukuoka City

  1. 1. Design Designing, called Isho, is the first process of Hakata Ori. Traced on special plotting paper, a design pattern, each grain by each grain, is colored tailed to respective weave textures. Designing requires elaborateness, but it has become more efficient with computerization.
  2. 2. Dyeing Colors selected at the design process, silk threads are dyed at the second process. The dyeing process involves washing raw silk with soapy water to bring out luster and boiling warps and wefts in dedicated hot water mixed with dyeing solution to dye them separately. Threads are dyed with chemical dyes or plant dyes. Dyed threads are weather-sensitive to affect colors, which requires proficient craftsmanship and proper judgment. The threads are untwisted and untangled to produce evenness.
  3. 3. Hatajikake (Preparation for weaving) In Hakata Ori, a design is formed by spooled warp threads. Following the spooling of the aligned warps around the tube, Hatajikake is carried out by setting the warps in the loom according to the pattern design. It is a process of threading the warps through the hooks in the Jacquard loom designed to move the warps up and down. With the end of the warps tied to the heddle, the refined silk threads are aligned and stretched on the loom and threaded through a reed. This process absolutely needs to accord with the design, and it is deemed as arduous work to handle great many delicate silk threads.
  4. 4. Weaving Flexibly blended with the modern technology in machine weaving, Hakata Ori traditional handweaving upholds the “uchikaeshi mitsuuchi” technique. The technique is of pushing weft threads strongly into the warp threads with the reed guiding the shuttle to weave. With appropriate strength, texture enhances its appeal with tightness and elaboration. The loom requires fine adjustments according to the climate condition, and rich experience and expertise deliver high quality fabric. The Hakata Ori weaving process includes no piece dyeing, allowing a woven cloth to be immediately inspected and brought to market.

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"Advanced classicism" is the concept of our brand. We protect the traditional sense of beauty of Hakata textiles while creating progressive and stylish designs with high skills and excellent techniques. We always strive to provide our customers with modern and original Hakata textiles.

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