Kyo art preservation

Kyo art preservation Kyo hyogu

Techniques refined for a thousand years
Gorgeous and elegant taste just like the town of Kyoto


What is Kyo art preservation ?

Kyo Hyogu are made in Kyoto prefecture. Hyogu or hyoso is a traditional technique to strengthen and preserve calligraphy works, paintings and the like with an attractive paper or cloth edging coupled with additional decorations to enhance the overall impression of the work.
Kyo Hyogu include other works than the typical hanging scroll such as picture frames, screens, scrolls, fusuma sliding doors and single-leaf screens. Hanging scrolls and picture frames are used for Japanese room decoration, and scrolls, fusuma sliding doors and single-leaf screens are generally used for room partitions or folding blinds.
Kyo Hyogu are characterized by their elegant appearance developed and matured over the long history of Kyoto, the prosperous capital city of earlier times. As Kyoto was home to the Imperial palace, many temples and shrines and a commercial center attracting wealthy clients, including each head master of the tea ceremony schools, it naturally attracted artisans, and merchants selling the materials of the craft. Furthermore, over the centuries, the artistic quality of Kyo Hyogu has been much admired for its elegance and sophistication by many aesthetes and patrons of culture and the arts. In addition, Kyo Hyogu are very functional and being easy to roll up, hanging scrolls are space-saving and portable; in the form of fusuma sliding doors and screens they are eminently practical and can be used not only for viewing, but also for protection against the wind and cold.


Kyo Hyogu have a long history said to begin in the Heian period. Since Kyo Hyogu were introduced into Japan along with the introduction of Buddhism from China, at that time they were used in kyokan, scrolls on which sutras were written. Furthermore it is said that with the rise of Buddhism, the original form of hanging scrolls depicted painted images of the Buddha and were used for prayer.
Kyo Hyogu have developed along with the history of Kyoto, a flourishing center of politics, culture and religion. It is also said that the climate of Kyoto was suited for the production of Kyoto Hyogu: high humidity, rapid changes in temperature and less wind. With the appearance of tokonoma alcoves and the spread of paintings, hyoso began to be made for calligraphic works and paintings. In addition, the tea ceremony flourishing from the Muromachi period to the Edo period, created a demand for characteristically elegant works.
Later Kyo Hyogu became known as fine hyogu with a particularly refined taste and designated as traditional crafts of Japan in 1997. Even today skilled artisans demonstrate their traditional highly accomplished techniques in the wide range of fields from utilitarian articles, arts and crafts, to the restoration of antiques.

General Production Process

  1. 1. Choosing the cloth (kireji) A typical Kyo Hyogu will be created around a honshi (a work of calligraphic or painted art created on a piece of paper or cloth), a Buddhist painting, or other art work. It will be backed with pasted washi (Japanese traditional paper) and sometimes cloth. It is carefully made, alternately dampening with water and drying through a process involving many complicated stages.
    Firstly, suitable cloth for best complementing the honshi work of art, is chosen. There are 4 types of cloth: hiraori (flat weave), ayaori (twill weave), shusuori (satin weave) and karamiori (leno weave). Since hanging scrolls are stored rolled up, a thin flexible cloth not prone to wrinkling is best suited to the task. This is an important process in which the quality of the hyogu is determined. The cloth must be carefully selected by considering the balance of colors, patterns and the like and the whole harmony with the honshi and its features.
  2. 2. The first lining of the cloth with washi (hadaurauchi) Usuminogami (a kind of washi), which has tensile strength and solidity, is often used.
    After cutting the cloth and adjusting the patterns, mizihiki, which gives water and shrinkage to the cloth, is carried out. The lining paper (urauchigami) is chosen according to each part, and cut to size. The paste is equally spread from the center on the lining paper. Then the lining paper is attached to the cloth and fixed by stroking with a stroke brush. This is a process requiring great care and concentration because the artisan is working directly with the honshi and the cloth.
  3. 3. The second lining of the cloth with washi (mashiurauchi) The second lining, mashiurauchi is done using a beating brush. For the additional lined paper, misugami (a kind of washi), which is flexible and easily pasted, is often used.
    The lining paper is selected in the same way as for hadaurauchi, and torn by putting a bamboo spatula on the edge of the lining paper which is dampened with water, so that the torn fuzzy fibers stand out. The lining paper is attached only to the fiber parts, so that the thickness doesn’t affect the surface.
  4. 4. The lining for the outer frame parts of honshi (chuberimashiurauchi) Lining is carried out to increase the strength and enhance the impression of the total piece.
  5. 5. Tsukemawashi All the parts are connected making sure to match the patterns.
  6. 6. The whole lining (souurauchi) Generally a smooth and solid sheet of udashi (a kind of washi paper) is used to line the whole piece.
  7. 7. Sewing futai A futai is sewn to the hyogi of the hanging scroll using raw silk.
    Futai is a long decoration hanging on the upper part of a hanging scroll, and hyomoku is a semicircular wooden bar placed on the top of the hanging scroll.
  8. 8. Finishing The piece is finished after installing a scroll bar and strings.
  9. 9. Inspection A final inspection is carried out ensuring good horizontal balance when hanging and the like.

Where to Buy & More Information

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts

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