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Edo Komon

Enjoyed by fashionable people in Edo with free thinking

It began as a fashion for the samurai families.

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It is assumed that Edo Komon began to be dyed on clothing in the Muromachi era.
In the Edo era, it began to be used for Kamishimo, the formal wear for the samurai families. Each Daimyo family had a unique pattern; therefore it can be identified from the design of kimono.
The shogunate controlled luxury in the Edo era, and very small matters of living were controlled including for samurai families and ordinary people.
When the samurai visited Edo for alternate-year attendance, they could not wear shabby clothing. Komon developed in reflection of such feeling of samurai families.

 Craftsmen competed with their skills.

Kimono for merchants was limited to pongee, cotton and hemp, and flashy colors were prohibited. It was acceptable to freely use brown and grey colors, and craftsmen in Edo expressed these two colors in various ways.
Ordinary people expressed their own "elegance" with free thinking. In order to satisfy them, craftsmen polished their skills, and dye craftsmen as well as craftsmen for pattern papers came from provinces to Edo. The types of designs increased and various dye techniques were developed one after another.

Coolness and elegance of Edo style is the characteristic of Edo Komon.

Craftsmanship in each process

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"The attraction of Edo Komon is its crisp severity of Kamishimo, chastity and coolness, and elegance of Edo style."
This is the statement by Mr. Bunjiro Kobayashi, the third generation of "Some-no-Sato Futaba-en" who achieved prominence as a dye artist. Spirits of people who lived in Edo were expressed in dyed goods.
Edo Komon is produced through the process generally including "pattern paper preparation," "engraving," "dyeing," "washing" and "steaming."

 Expression of a playful mind

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Edo Komon is roughly divided into two: "Sadame Komon" exclusively for samurai families and "Iware Komon" for merchants.
"Sadame Komon" includes "Same Komon," "Takeda Hishi," "Omeshiju" for the Tokugawa shogunate family," "Umebachi" for the Hosokawa family and "Kikubishi" for the Maeda family.
For "Iware Komon," some use themes from daily lives such as "Hatsuyume (first dream of the new year)" expressing the design of Mt. Fuji and eggplant as well as "Mochitsuki" expressing mortar and pestle. It looks like a solid color on first glance, but a little humorous when looked at closely. The disposition of people who lived in Edo abundant with wit is remembered.

 Skills of expert craftsmen in a close look

Work including pattern engraving, dyeing and steaming is normally handled by independent professional craftsmen, respectively. There are professionals for engraving, dye craftsmen, steaming workers, etc., but "Some-no-Sato Futaba-en" has all these craftsmen internally, to finish Edo Komon in one continuous operation. Techniques of skillful craftsmen can be observed closely in our atelier.
Unlike formal wear such as visiting wear, Edo Komon is a kind of kimono that expresses a fashionable mind. It is now a representative of kimono called "Sharemono."
It is utilized not only for kimono, but also in various forms such as small articles and interiors as well as in the field of fashion.

Production process

Pattern paper preparation

Japanese paper is processed with persimmon juice to be used as pattern papers. By pasting persimmon juice on pure Japanese paper, expansion and contraction by temperature and humidity is prevented, and water resistance is increased. Pattern papers are mainly produced in Ise, Mie Prefecture.

Engraving

A pattern is engraved in accordance with design. Finish into beautiful dyed goods largely depends on how precisely and accurately it is engraved.

Cone engraving
This is a technique to engrave a pattern of basic Komon design such as "Gyogi Komon," "Kakudoshi Komon," and "Same Komon." A crescent-shaped blade is vertically placed on a pattern paper and rotated in order to engrave small holes. Those that express very fine designs are called "Goku," where 900-1000 holes are engraved in one-inch square (approximately 3-cm square).

Stripe engraving
It is a technique to prepare pattern papers to be used to dye simple stripe patterns. It is also called as "Sensuji," "Mansuji," or "Mijinsuji." The finest ones can have 33 stripes in a one inch width.

Pierced engraving (Tsukibori)
This is a technique used to engrave complicated pictorial patterns. A pattern paper is placed on a plate called "Anaita" with small holes so that the blade of the engraving knife clearly passes though to the bottom of 6-8 stacked paper patterns.

Tool engraving (Dogubori)
A tool that has a tip of the blade shaped in a certain pattern such as a flower or tortoise shell is used for engraving.

Dyeing

This is a process to dye fabric using engraved pattern papers. A white cloth is pasted on an approximately 6-7 meter solid plate.
A dye-proof paste is evenly pasted with a spatula on the pattern paper placed on a cloth. This part will be a white design.

Washing

After dyeing a ground color, the paste is rinsed off with water. Cloths used to be rinsed off in a river in old days, which was a seasonal tradition. The part of ground color is stained and the part of paste is not stained and left in white, creating a pattern unique to Komon.

Steaming

This is a process to settle the colors.

Edo Sarasa

Sarasa originated in India and spread throughout the world

Sharpening senses

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Bunjiro Kobayashi (in the above; the third generation of Futaba-en) states in his book "Dyeing: the World of Bunjiro Kobayashi": "Patterns of Edo Sarasa are designs including characters, birds and flowers. The tone is cool and often gives an exotic feeling. Approximately 30 paper patterns are normally used for one work, while some works use as many as 200-300. Colors are carefully overlaid on each paper pattern using dye brushes, requiring a lot of perseverance and techniques. This contributes to the three-dimensional feeling, characterized by the profound colors."
Edo Sarasa that normally uses 30 pattern papers or 300 for more precise ones can be called as the elegance of dye techniques.

 Origin in India

Sarasa was supposedly originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. There are several theories about its etymology, including "Serasa," the archaic word in Java and "Sarasah" meaning a "beautiful cloth" in the Indian language.
Sarasa born in India went to Europe through Persia, spread to China in the west and Thailand and Java in the south, and came to Japan through the "Silk Road of the ocean."

Indian Sarasa
Many seem to have a design with a motif of legends transmitted in India such as the "stories of Krishna."

Persian Sarasa
Exchange with India became active after the Middle Age. By bringing back the skills of Sarasa, Persian Sarasa began using almost the same technique as Indian Sarasa.

Java Sarasa
This dye is also called batik. Its characteristics include batik dyeing with a design strongly influenced by India.

Unique shading of cool Edo Sarasa attracting craftsmen in Japan

To Japan in the Muromachi era

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Sarasa was transmitted to Japan in the Muromachi era. It was considered to have been brought by Nanban ships from Portugal, Spain, Holland, etc. In those days, Sarasa was not something that ordinary people could have, and was favored by people in authority among samurai families as foreign articles from the West. Masters of the tea ceremony also highly valued it as a special fabric.
The culture of Sarasa in Japan came to bloom in the Edo era. Craftsmen made full use of the pattern dyeing technique in Japan. Pigments were used to produce dyes. It is interesting that it did not become Japanese-style even if it was made by the hands of the Japanese people. Colors are excessively applied by using vivid colors, to express the unique beauty of nature.
Sarasa began to spread to various regions of Japan.
 

Amakusa Sarasa
Amakusa Sarasa was born in the Bunsei period of the Edo era in Amakusa (Nagasaki), Kyushu.

Nabeshima Sarasa
Nabeshima Sarasa developed under the protection of the Nabeshima clan. These dyed goods use both wood engraving and pattern papers.

Kyo Sarasa
Its characteristics include gorgeous coloring like Kyo Yuzen. Pattern papers are used for dyeing.

"Edo Sarasa" expresses Wabi and Sabi.

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It is said that skillful Sarasa craftsmen who used pattern dyeing appeared in Edo around the end of Edo era, leading to the spread of the name of Edo Sarasa.
Characteristics of Edo Sarasa include feeling of exoticism yet deep and cool taste, and the climate of Edo and the beauty sense of the fashionable Edo people were expressed in its development.
Brilliant colors were possible in "Kyoto Sarasa" because of the soft water, while the water is hard in Edo resulting in cool colors.

Complicated production process that adheres to one fine line and one color

Several pattern papers for one design

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One of Edo Sarasa's characteristics is the method to divide one pattern into several pattern papers for engraving and printing.
For example, three pattern papers are necessary to stain a line (fine line) on a triangle design. Pattern papers drop off unless at least one part is not engraved. Therefore, one part of a paper is left without engraving. In this way, there will be an unstained area in one part of a pattern paper. To complement this, three papers are prepared by leaving different parts without engraving. Production process

 Potential of Sarasa expanding into the future

Edo Sarasa dyed in this way is finished into a fabric with unique texture in which Asia and Japan are mixed. The presence of Edo Sarasa developed from Indian Sarasa with Japan's unique technique inspires emotions for those who wear it. Just as it attracted people who lived in those days and enhanced the skills of craftsmen, Edo Sarasa born in the present age is also cherished by people in these days.

Careful attention to each process

Drawing a ground plan is the beginning of Edo Sarasa. Motifs include natural things, incorporating the modern sense into the arabesque pattern. All designs are engraved on pattern papers with only one small knife.

Production process of Edo Sarasa

Design

A ground plan is described in consideration of the design and pattern of the kimono.

Engraving

Pattern papers are engraved in accordance with the ground plan separately by color and design.

Color matching

Colors are mixed in accordance with the rough sketch for color matching.

Plate preparation

A paste made of glutinous rice is pasted on both sides of the pattern-printing plate, in preparation to stretch white cloths.

Ground dyeing

Shibuki-jiru (peach skin juice) is pasted on the whole surface of the stretched cloth.

Fixation

The cloth after ground dyeing is carefully stretched on the pattern-printing plate.

Pattern printing

The cloth pasted on the plate is placed on a pattern paper to print the dyes. Printing the outline is called "fine line printing" and coloring on a pattern is called "seam color printing." "Ground pattern printing" is to print a ground color.

Steaming

The cloth after dyeing is steamed for settlement on the cloth.

Wash in water

The cloth after steaming is thrown into water to wash off the extra dyes.

Finish

The cloth after washing is dried and finished by trimming the edges.

other Dyed goods

"Tokyo Yuzen": Reflection of modern and adult elegance

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"Yuzen" is dyed goods with picturesque expressions. Together with "Kyo Yuzen" and "Kaga Yuzen," Tokyo Yuzen is known as a representative of Yuzen dyeing. It is also called as "Tokyo Tegaki Yuzen" or "Edo Yuzen," communicating the elegant dye culture enjoyed by the upper class in the Edo era to the present age.
Tokyo Yuzen was supposed to have appeared during the Kasei period in the 1800's. Daimyos from various countries brought their personal dye craftsmen who settled in Edo, leading to propagation of Yuzen dyeing
It is said that Tokyo Yuzen is fashionable, with many urbanized and modern works.
With "Tegaki Yuzen," in particular, dye-proof pastes, pens and brushes are used to dye as if drawing pictures. Motifs can be expressed as intended by dye craftsmen. Value as art works also increases by expressing in combination of techniques including embroidery, tie-dye and impressed gold foil.

"Edo Bingata" incorporating a method from Okinawa, a southern country

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"Bingata" is a traditional dye craft born in Okinawa. There are various theories but it is believed to have begun approximately in the 14th-15th Century. It is sometimes called as "Okinawa Bingata" or "Ryukyu Hon-bingata." During the time of Ryukyu Dynasty, kimono with Bingata-dyeing was permitted only for the royal family and clans to wear, and production was severely controlled by the royal family.
"Edo Bingata" was created with excellent pattern dyeing techniques in Edo by incorporating these colors and designs unique to Okinawa Bingata. Its characteristics include clear embossing of design outlines, unlike elegant "Tokyo Yuzen" with gradation as well as plain and fashionable "Edo Komon." The finish of overall design presents sharply-tightened appearance by describing a three-dimensional expression with techniques such as bordering of design outlines and gradation in bordered designs using a unique method called “shade-off."

"Tokyo Mujizome" expressing simple but unique fashion

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Plain dyeing is the most essential in dyeing. The dye culture began from dyeing with colors extracted from plants in the ancient days. This technique is the most primitive, called "dip dyeing."
"Edo Zome Murasaki" is representative of plain dyeing in the Edo era. It widely spread to merchants in Edo, since "Sukeroku" played by Danjuro Ichikawa, the very famous Kabuki actor, used it as a headband.
"Tokyo Mujizome" is a traditional handicraft designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Plain colors are able to bring out the fashion of wearers at maximum. Females who enjoy kimono by coordinating belts or small articles are increasing.

 

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