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Kurume Kasuri: Experience Fukuoka’s Traditional Textile First Hand

Although we think nothing of buying clothes nowadays, there was a time in the past when people in each household made their own clothing from hand-woven textiles. Among the common people, cotton was the fabric of choice because it was durable and functional. Plain cotton was the mainstream until about 220 years ago when Kurume Kasuri, a cotton fabric with patterns woven in, was first created. (Kasuri, which literally means blurred, refers to the blurry appearance of the patterns.) When the first fabrics with cross-hatches, polka dots and other patterns came out, they must have been new and exciting.

For more than 220 years, the technique for producing Kurume Kasuri has been handed down over the generations in the Chikugo region of Fukuoka Prefecture. Patterns are created by weaving together pre-dyed warp and weft threads, but especially intricate patterns must go through a long and complicated production process.

To ensure this technique is passed on, the national government designated Kurume Kasuri as an important intangible cultural property. Kurume Kasuri made with this technique and which satisfies a stringent set of criteria is certified as an important intangible cultural property, while fabric that meets a slightly less stringent set of criteria is designated as traditional handicrafts. There is also a third category of Kurume Kasuri for everyday fabrics woven using modern methods.

To ensure certification as either a cultural property or a traditional handicraft, every process must be done by hand and the thread must be dyed with indigo. For so-called regular Kurume Kasuri, the process is almost the same, but powered looms can be used as can dyeing agents other than indigo, which results in more affordable fabrics available in a broader range of colors.

> Click here for an in-depth look at Kurume Kasuri

If you live in Fukuoka, you’ll want to be able to explain Kurume Kasuri to guests who visit you. There are currently 21 Kurume Kasuri weaving operations in Fukuoka, most of which are located in two areas in the southern part of the prefecture: Chikugo and Hirokawa. Although production systems may differ from workshop to workshop, most of the weavers strive to get the word out about their craft, so there are some workshops where you can join tours and experience parts of the weaving process, like indigo dyeing or weaving, first hand. The best way to get to know Kurume Kasuri is to visit a workshop and see what makes the fabric so special in person.

Workshops offering hands-on Kurume Kasuri experiences
* Reservations required (Many workshops offer sessions even on their days off. Be sure to ask about dates and times.)

Atelier Takeshi Yamamura
Moriyama Kasuri Kobo
Tomihisa Orimono
Noguchi Orimono
Aika Tanaka Kasuri Kobo
Ikeda Kasuri Kobo

Yamaai / 久留米絣 山藍(やまあい)

250-1 Naganobu, Hirokawa-machi, Yame, Fukuoka
• Tel. 0943-32-0150
• Open: 10:00~17:00
• Closed: Sun., hol.
• Experience: Indigo dyeing, natural plant dyeing, handwoven
Stop by their gallery housed inside a refurbished old home to browse and pick up some souvenirs. The workshop produces plant-dyed Kurume Kasuri as well as Kurume Kasuri made by traditional methods.

Atelier Takeshi Yamamura / 藍染絣工房 山村健

Atelier Takeshi Yamamura
241 Naganobu, Hirokawa-machi, Yame, Fukuoka
• Tel. 0943-32-0332
• Open: 9:00~17:00
• Closed: Irregular
• Experience: Indigo dyeing, handwoven
Patterns here are known for their modern motifs. Enjoy a relaxing time with a cup of tea inside the attached gallery. In addition to rolls of cloth, you can also purchase fabric by the meter.

Moriyama Kasuri Kobo / 森山絣工房

Moriyama Kasuri Kobo
109 Niishiro, Hirokawa-machi, Yame, Fukuoka
• Tel. 0943-32-0023
• Open: 9:00~17:00
• Closed: New Years
• Experience: Indigo dyeing, handwoven
Founded in 1858, this is the oldest existing Kurume Kasuri workshop. It sells Kurume Kasuri made using traditional methods as well as products knitted from yarn dyed for Kurume Kasuri.

Tomihisa Orimono / 冨久織物

Tomihisa Orimono
1236-1 Ota, Hirokawa-machi, Yame, Fukuoka
• Tel. 0943-32-1048
• Open: 9:00~17:00
• Closed: Irregular
• Experience: Indigo dyeing
In addition to authentic Kurume Kasuri designs they also accept orders for original patterns. Shop inside the gallery which is housed in a renovated old home.

Noguchi Orimono / 野口織物

Noguchi Orimono
858 Ichijo, Hirokawa-machi, Yame, Fukuoka
• Tel. 0942-52-3816
• Open: 8:00~17:00
• Closed: Sat,. Sun., hol.
• Experience: Loom
This workshop produces Kurume Kasuri using modern manufacturing methods. The mechanical looms use shuttles to thread the weft in a manner similar to hand weaving. Here you can try your hand at machine weaving.

Aika Tanaka Kasuri Kobo / 藍華 田中絣工房

Aika Tanaka Kasuri Kobo
442-1 Takae, Chikugo City, Fukuoka
• Tel. 0942-52-4423
• Open: 10:00~16:00
• Closed: Sat., Sun., hol.
• Experience: Indigo dyeing
This workshop specializes in indigo dyeing and hand-woven Kurume Kasuri whose motifs draw inspiration from the natural surroundings of the Chikugo area. It also actively pursues new approaches, such as brand development for Kurume Kasuri fabrics.

Ikeda Kasuri Kobo / 池田絣工房

Ikeda Kasuri Kobo
1840 Hisadomi, Chikugo City, Fukuoka
• Tel. 0942-53-2416
• Open:10:00~17:00
• Closed: Sun.
• Experience: Indigo dyeing, handwoven
The fourth generation owner of this workshop studied overseas, so lessons and tours are offered in both English and Chinese. It also has a parking lot suitable for buses. There is also an exhibition space inside the glass-enclosed workshop that you can visit. Souvenir shopping offered too.

Note: The situation regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus changes daily. Please follow local authorities’ advice by practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and following other recommended guidelines. By sharing information about events and places to go, Fukuoka Now is NOT encouraging unsafe practices. Practice safe behavior for yourself and others.

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Published: Mar 19, 2021 / Last Updated: Apr 29, 2021

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