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A new challenge to express "corruption" with Nishijin textile. Nishijin High Waist Corset Skirt & Parasol [Artisan Interview]

On April 29, 2023, renacnatta will release the Nishijin High Waist Corset Skirt and the Nishijin Parasol parasol.

Nishijin-ori, a traditional craft of Kyoto that has been around for a long time, has the greatest appeal of “yarn-dyeing”, which dyes the threads, and “mon-orimono”, which expresses patterns with various weaving techniques.

Nishijin-ori, which is highly regarded both domestically and internationally as one of Japan's representative textiles, is currently facing the "biggest post-war crisis" as demand for kimonos declines.

This skirt and parasol were born as an item that connects the technology and culture of Nishijin textile to the future, and combines the functionality of modern lifestyle with the beauty of Nishijin textile .

Yusuke Sakata of Kajikinran, who has a studio in Nishijin, Kyoto, made Renakunatta's dream fabric come true.

“Nishijin textile woven with cotton thread,” which has almost never been seen before, was an unknown challenge for Mr. Sakata, the weaver, and for us.

Why did we create Nishijin textile items woven from cotton now? And where is the thought of Mr. Sakata who sympathized with it? I will tell you about the background of Mr. Sakata's continuing relationship with Nishijin textiles.

Attracted by the appearance of craftsmen, he abandoned his career and entered the world of Nishijin textiles.

Kaji Kinran Co., Ltd., which produced the fabric this time, is a textile manufacturer in Nishijin that has mainly made robes worn by monks since ancient times. The weaving technique, which makes phoenixes and flowers stand out three-dimensionally and vividly, is also used in the costumes of the imperial family.

Mr. Sakata entered Kajikinran as a craftsman when he was 30 years old. It was a big career change from the construction industry that I had worked until then.

“Kajikinran is my wife’s family home, and my father-in-law once asked me if I wanted to do Nishijin weaving when I was 27. I wanted to continue, so I declined.”

However, Mr. Sakata entered the world of architecture because he liked making things. It seems that there was also a feeling that "becoming a craftsman is not bad" .

Three years later, I made the decision. The decisive factor was to actually see the site of Kajikinran.

Kajikinran, state of weaving field

I was very impressed by the cool appearance of the craftsmen who worked there. Another factor that made me feel inclined was that if someone didn’t take over, the Kajikinran would run out. When I told him, he laughed and said, ``I thought I'd do it someday.'' It seems that my father-in-law thought the same thing."

Mr. Sakata has also made convincing achievements in the field of architecture, and has become a person who will be responsible for the next generation of Kajikinran. I will talk about how I entered the world of Nishijin textiles from a completely different field.

“I thought that architecture and textiles have a lot in common. Architectural design has vertical and horizontal axes, and textiles also have warp and weft threads. It may have been easier for me to visualize things because they capture objects in three dimensions.

Mr. Sakata, who jumped into a different industry and thought that he had to make a lot of efforts and struggles, says lightly, "I am taking on various challenges," while finding commonalities with the construction industry. This item is one of his new challenges.

"Cotton" and "decayed" expression realized by advanced weaving technology and color sense

What we aimed for in this "Nishijin-ori Collection" is the "decayed" beauty of frescoes in old Italian churches. This is expressed using the technique of Nishijin weaving, and the material is "cotton" that can be worn lightly even in the summer.

“When I heard from Mr. Okochi that it was a design that looked like it had decayed, I knew I wanted to give it a try. Nishijin-ori expresses the splendor of colors and patterns through weaving, and is a world of 'Nambo no monjai'. I felt that the fabrics that Renakunatta envisioned were similar to the next stage of Nishijin weaving that I had envisioned.”

In this way, Mr. Sakata and I began the challenge of creating an unprecedented fabric using traditional Nishijin weaving techniques .

Among them, Mr. Sakata was most particular about making mongami. Monshi is like an instruction sheet that expresses the color and pattern of the fabric that will actually be finished in dots.

“Each time we weave, we adjust the warp and weft to get a better look. …It took me a lot longer than usual to find this balance.”

If you look closely at the fabrics of the Nishijin-ori Collection, depending on the location and angle, there are parts that look monochromatic, and parts that look like multiple colors. Patterns can also appear three-dimensional or disappear.

“The pattern itself is simple, but I actually used eight different colors for the threads. To create a 'decayed feeling', I was conscious of the idea of ​​an Impressionist oil painting. Even though it's the same red, it's drawn using a variety of colors.

In fact, while expressing ivory and brown, pink and light blue threads are also used, and depending on the angle you look at it, it will emerge. Due to the depth of the color, the patterns and colors are beautifully expressed as if they have decayed over time.

Furthermore, this time it is a material called "cotton" that has not been used in Nishijin textiles. Mr. Sakata, how did you perceive this?

“Originally, I wanted to try cotton Nishijin textile someday. There are so many different materials in the world, so it would be a waste not to try it. , I had a vague idea that I wanted to focus on making fabrics for clothes.”

However, weaving with cotton tends to generate dust, so the cleaning process took many times longer than usual.

“If the dust is not removed after weaving a certain amount of time, the machine will not work properly. It feels like hair is accumulating wherever the cotton thread passes.

Also, compared to silk and polyester, the difficulty of cotton is that the thread is easy to break. Therefore, by reducing the speed of the loom to half of the normal speed, we woven it slowly and carefully.

Since this was his first attempt, Mr. Sakata did everything by himself, from creating the pattern to the actual weaving, through trial and error.

And it is the "back side" of the fabric that you can feel Mr. Sakata's attention to detail.

From the prototype stage, we always held the fabric up against the sunlight to see how the back side would look. It’s rare that it would be used as a parasol. There was also a discovery that it was so different.”

In general Nishijin weaving, when weaving using multi-colored threads, it is normal for the threads to float on the back side. However, this Nishijin textile has a beautiful finish that pays attention to the details of the thread processing, so that you can enjoy even the back side.

A first-time challenge item presented with a young craftsman who will be responsible for the future of Nishijin textiles

According to a 2020 survey, the sales of Nishijin textiles are said to be sluggish, partly due to the impact of the corona crisis, to the point that it is said to be the "biggest crisis after the war." ( *Nishijin Textile Industry Association "Nishijin Production Overview" )

It is said that there are currently about 200 Nishijin weaving companies, but the Nishijin Textile Association receives notices of closures almost every month. Furthermore, there are currently few craftsmen who can make machine parts, and the remaining weavers sometimes compete to buy parts.

In such a critical situation, it goes without saying that a young and skilled craftsman like Mr. Sakata is extremely rare.

“The actual situation is that the industry has not yet established a system to join hands and revitalize the entire Nishijin textile culture in order to pass on the culture. I was able to feel that it was born , and I really enjoyed doing it.

Also, our customers have basically been monks so far, and everything has been B to B, so this will be the first opportunity for the general public to pick it up. I can't wait to see how the skirt and parasol this time will be used on a daily basis."

The challenge of manufacturing with us has just begun. This time, we have put it into items that can be used in everyday life so that you can rediscover the beauty of delicate and deep fabrics like works of art.

Through Renacnatta, I hope that as many people as possible will know about the existence of a craftsman who preserves tradition and seeks innovation.


■ Kajikinran Co., Ltd.
Official site / Instagram

Interviewed and written by: Shiori Yamakoshi
Interview and editing: Eri Yoshida

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