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Tokyo Kumihimo
(Braided Cords)

8 Tokyo Kumihimo (Braided Cords)
Main Areas of Manufacture
Taito Ward, Suginami Ward, Kita Ward
Designation/Certification Dates
February 4th, 1982 (Tokyo Certification)
Traditional Technologies and Techniques
  1. Plain dyeing, gradation dyeing and spaced dyeing are all techniques employed to dye the silk threads used in Tokyo Kumihimo (braided cords).
  2. Kumihimo cords are braided using yotsudai (four-bobbin) looms, kakudai (square) looms, marudai (round) looms, ayatakedai (bamboo) looms, shigeuchidai looms, takadai (high) looms, naikidai looms and kagouchi looms.
    • ① With ayatakedai (bamboo) and takadai (high) looms, a beater is used to damp down the braid.
    • ② When using either shigeuchidai or takadai (high) looms to produce braid, the patterns depend on the cat's cradle of threads created within the loom.
    • ③ When using kagouchi looms, twisted yarn is the source of the braided threads used.
Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Raw silk thread, silk thread, gold or silver thread
History and Characteristics

The Kumihimo craft is one that enjoys a long history, the products created by it having a range of applications. In that Kumihimo cords secure the modern kimono obi (belt) and the tassels of haori (short coats worn with kimono), they remain invaluable in our everyday lives being used in a variety of ways.

Kumihimo technologies and techniques originally came to Japan by way of China and Korea. Through the ages, they came to be used in a huge variety of products.

Kumihimo cords were used in many roles. When priests sought to spread the tenets of Buddhism, their sutra scrolls and priestly robes were secured with Kumihimo. The aristocracy used Kumihimo when wearing formal dress. With the rise of the warrior class in Japan, Kumihimo were used to secure helmets and armor. A flat-braided cord was also developed to wrap the hilts of samurai swords.

As the wearing of short sleeves became fashionable, in addition to the obi and waist sashes used when wearing kimono, Kumihimo cords became widely used as a means by which to secure obi, etc. Kumihimo cords could also be taken from where they lay over obi. They could then be wrapped and tied as to pull up (shorten) kimono sleeves.

Historically, the samurai practiced the craft of Kumihimo as part of their occupation. It is said that in Japan, this craft was so advanced as to be unusual internationally. However, such skills were not merely refined to just tie or secure items. Rather, braid patterns and the allocation of colors within cords made it possible for individuals to express their fortunes, their gender, and their social positions, etc.

Furthermore, with names such as "Koryouchi Chosen" (literally "Damped Braiding from the Koryo Dynasty in Korea), it can be assumed that various braid patterns came to Japan from mainland Asia and the Korean Peninsula.

Concerning the looms used to create Kumihimo cords, they can be categorized into seven types: kakudai (square) looms, marudai (round) looms, ayatakedai (bamboo) looms, shigeuchidai looms, takadai (high) looms, naikidai looms and kagouchi looms.

The patterns in which threads are combined as well as the sense of "wabi-sabi" conveyed (literally the "simplicity and refinement" projected by the colors used) are felt to be symbolic of Tokyo Kumihimo.

Contact Details
Manufacturing Area
Cooperative Name
Edo Kumihimo Manufacturing Guild
Addressc/o Kiryudo Co., Ltd., 1-27-6 Kiyokawa,Taito Ward, Tokyo 111-0022
Telephone No.03 (3873) 2105
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