Tokyo textiles

Tokyo textiles Tokyo tegaki yuzen

Elegant, beautiful handmade patterns
Depicting the culture of the Edo period


What is Tokyo textiles ?

Tokyo Tegaki Yuzen refers to kimono woven fabric produced in Shinjuku Ward, Nerima Ward and Nakano Ward, Tokyo. With an outgrowth of townsmen culture in Edo (current Tokyo), it is characterized by its consummate expressions of the Edo idea of stylishness in soft, subdued tones.
Unlike other Yuzen fabrics, Tokyo Tegaki Yuzen adopts integrated production in which the whole process is performed alone, allowing an artisan’s individuality or characteristics to show through. It shares the production process with Kyo Yuzen and Kaga Yuzen, except for a step of pattering with a mold. As “Tegaki” means “hand painting” literally, Tokyo Tegaki Yuzen enjoys hand-painted patterns without using molds. Its signature designs include Edotoki pattern, Goshodoki pattern and Yusoku pattern. Today, Tokyo Tegaki Yuzen have started developing modern designs and colors besides Edo stylishness.


At first, a technique of monochrome printing using only black ink (called sumizuri-e) had religious themes and mainly depicted Buddha figures, but it was in the Edo period (1603-1868) that the prints started to be used for comic novels or commercial newssheets, which were popular amusements for the general public.

General Production Process

  1. 1. Design Yuzen designs are decided in keeping with a wearer or purpose. Designing involves drawing up a rough sketch or coloring a sketch.
  2. 2. Rough design A rough design is sketched on a piece of white cloth using Aobana-eki and Menso brush (a slender-painting brush). Aobana-eki is an extract from a plant called spiderwort that is instilled into a piece of Japanese paper (washi) and then squeezed out of the piece of paper wetted with a small amount of water.
  3. 3. Itomenori-oki Itomenori-oki is a process of applying a paste to a fabric to resist dyeing the outline in the Irosashi (applying color) process while tracing the design. A funnel-shaped Kakishibu paper tube with a thin metal stick at the tip is used in this process. The name of Itomenori-oki comes from an action of applying a paste like thin thread (ito) while tracing the design.
  4. 4. Tegaki Yuzen sashi Tegaki Yuzen sashi is a process of putting dyes on the design, on a heated table (Yuzen table). This process requires putting dyes on the fabric to instill them in instead of painting, leading to the expression of “sasu (put).” A heater is installed in the table to dry the fabric from the back during the process to resist smearing. Yuzen sashi is never carried out without checking color on a piece of the same fabric.
  5. 5. Norioki fuse Norioki fuse is similar to masking which involves coating the colored design with a paste using a spatula to resist dyeing the design with a ground color. Caution is exercised to keep air out of the paste during the process. A paste containing air may let colors mix together. Once the fabric is coated with the paste, it is sprinkled with bran powder to keep the paste from touching other cloth and keep the paste intact in the Ji-nuri process (applying a base coat).
  6. 6. Hikizome Hikizome is a process of dyeing the back ground with a big brush without interruption to avoid dried spots during the process. This process must be performed out of sunlight and reflections to provide a uniform dyeing.
  7. 7. Steaming and Washing Steaming (mushi) is carried out to fix the dyes on the cloth, and the steamed cloth is washed with water to rinse off paste, Aobana-eki and excess dyes. The process of washing used to be called Yuzen Nagashi that was performed in the river, but today it is usually done in a tank.
  8. 8. Yunoshi Also known as Yudoshi, Yunoshi is a process of steaming to remove wrinkles from the cloth and straightening and fixing the width of the cloth. The steaming method is decided between by hand using a steamer or by machine, according to cloth.
  9. 9. Finish The finishing process involves correcting the colors with different kinds of brushes and decorating the Tokyo Tegaki Yuzen fabric with gold leaf or gold powder, and/or embroidery. If a family crest is added, the fabric undergoes another process called Monsho Uwae after this process.
  10. 10. Monsho uwae This process is crest drawing that a Monsho uwae-shi (painter) draws a family crest by hand, on ceremonial kimonos (Montsuki) and formal kimonos for married women (Tomesode). Drawing a family crest is called Uwae, which had been part of dyeing but became a specialized form in the middle or late Edo Period.

Where to Buy & More Information

Katsushika Dento Sangyokan

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