Home > Introducing the Traditional Crafts of Tokyo > 2 Tokyo Some-Komon (Tokyo Fine-Patterned Dyeing)

Tokyo Some-Komon
(Tokyo Fine-Patterned Dyeing)

2 Tokyo Some-Komon (Tokyo Fine-Patterned Dyeing)
Main Areas of Manufacture
Shinjuku Ward, Setagaya Ward, Nerima Ward
Designation/Certification Dates
June 2nd, 1976 (National Certification)
December 24th, 1982 (Tokyo Certification)
Traditional Technologies and Techniques
  1. In Tokyo Some-Komon (fine-patterned dyeing) textiles, colors and motifs are incorporated into intricate patterns.
  2. 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, etc. (These designs are then overlaid the stencil paper for stenciling).
  3. The application of stencils to textiles is carried out by hand with patterns matched up accordingly.
  4. The dyeing of textiles involves both brush dyeing and thrashing of the cloth (a process called Shigoki*1).
  5. Natsusennori (a paste mixture) is also used. It is comprised of glutinous rice powder, rice bran and salt, etc. This is a dye-proof preparation. Areas of textiles treated with this paste will remain their original color when dyed.
*1 Shigoki: Using a spatula, the entire textile is dyed by applying the Natsusennori mixture to which base-color dyes have been added.
Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Woven silk textiles
History and Characteristics

Komon (fine-patterned dyeing) commenced in the Muromachi Period (1337-1573). By the Edo Period (1603 -1867), fine-patterned dyeing came to be represented by the art of stencil dyeing.

In contrast to Daimongata-Some (large-patterned stencil dyeing) and Chugata-Some (medium stencil dyeing), Komongata-Some (fine-patterned stencil dyeing) is said to have earned its name from the stencil dyeing of intricate patterns.

Development of fine-patterned dyeing occurred during the early Edo Period as it became possible to dye intricate patterns upon kamishimo (a formal upper body garment worn by the samurai classes). At the time, there were mansions established in Edo by daimyo (feudal lords) from throughout Japan. Thus, there was an expanding samurai class that demanded more fine-patterned dyed products. Concurrently, daimyo in Edo also decided on family crests and such designs were then printed on articles of clothing. The techniques that originally only catered for the intricately-dyed kamishimo of samurai gained popularity from the mid-Edo Period onwards as culture flourished among townspeople and the same techniques were applied to kimono and haori (a form of short top coat). Accordingly, demand for textiles increased and business was strong.

At the start of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), due to promulgation of laws concerning hair length; and the impact of western culture, there occurred a significant decline in demand for fine-patterned dyeing among men. However, demand continued to increase with respect to the use of such textiles in women's kimono. Furthermore, around the middle of the Meiji Era, semi-formal kimono were developed for women featuring floral pattern prints. Up until and including the present, such patterns have proved popular in that they demonstrate the "decorative" aspects of women's kimono.

In the modern world, the "Tokyo Some-Komon" name is applied to products both engraved and dyed in Tokyo. The engraving of designs is done using a cone tool and a small knife. Such techniques include "cone engraving," "pierced engraving," "draw engraving," and "tool engraving," etc. Furthermore, seven or eight pieces of stencil paper are overlaid at one time, and engraving then takes place in an area that is 13cm long and 40cm wide. Among such engravings, some patterns occur in a work area just three centimeters square, involving the piercing of more than 1000 holes in the stencil paper. Through such engraving techniques, amazingly intricate patterns are created.

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