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Edo Sarasa
(Printed Silk Calico)

18 Edo Sarasa (Printed Silk Calico)
Main Areas of Manufacture
Shinjuku Ward, Toshima Ward, Arakawa Ward
Designation/Certification Dates
December 27th, 1983 (Tokyo Certification)
Traditional Technologies and Techniques
  1. Handmade Japanese paper is treated with a preparation of persimmon juice and matched with a backing paper in order to become stencil paper; designs are carved using separate but similar backing paper (These are then overlaid the stencil paper for stenciling).
  2. Stencil dyeing is done by hand.
  3. A brush dyeing technique called hikizome is used to dye textiles completely with their base colors.
  4. Natsusennori (a paste mixture) comprised of glutinous rice flour, rice bran and salt, etc., is also used. This is a dye-proof preparation. Areas of textiles treated with this paste will remain their original color when dyed.
Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Cotton textiles, Silk textiles
History and Characteristics

Sarasa originated more than 3,000 years ago in India. The techniques involved in its production are said to have spread west to Europe and east to China. They were introduced to Thailand and Indonesia, subsequently crossing the seas to arrive in Japan.

“Sarasa” is a common terminology used throughout the world.

It is said that Sarasa arrived in Japan during the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), with products from India and Europe being brought by foreign merchant vessels from Portugal, Spain and Holland. The Japanese referred to these ships as Nanbansen and Komosen.

The bulk of clothing in Japan at the time was made from silk or hemp; people were both surprised and pleased with the qualities of cotton, it being a textile they had previously known nothing about.

The attraction of Sarasa is the colorful patterns that can be created by dyeing it in five different tones (dark reds, indigo blues, greens, yellows and browns).

In that the exoticism of such countries differs from the Japanese traditions associated with homegrown textiles such as those produced using some-komon (fine-patterned dyeing) and yuzen (painted dyeing) techniques, people may have a somewhat exotic image of Sarasa that reflects the natural traits of its origin countries.

It is said that Edo Sarasa was born in the second half of the Edo Period. The water of Tokyo, including that of the Kanda River, is considered to be a relatively “hard water” (with a high mineral content). Thus, the iron content present in the water produces ongoing chemical reactions until dyeing processes are completed. The outcome of this is a tendency towards sober hues being produced.

It is through this that the austere elegance unique to Edo Sarasa is created, and the colors realized tend to offer a sense of wabi-sabi (a sense of “simplicity and refinement”).

Presently, only Tokyo boasts a reasonable population of Sarasa producers.

Contact Details
Manufacturing Area
Cooperative Name
Tokyo Order-Made Dyeing Association
Address3-20-12 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo 169-0051
Telephone No.03 (3208) 1521
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