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Fukuro obi sash from Nishijin showing a woven scene with aristocrats
Detail of N? robe from Nishijin, silk with gilded paper, Edo period

Nishijin-ori (, Nishijin fabric) is a traditional textile produced in the Nishijin () district of Kamigy?-ku in Kyoto, Japan. Nishijin weaving originated in Heian-ky?to, Japan, over 1200 years ago. It uses many different types of coloured yarns, weaving them together into decorative designs. Nishijin employs very tedious and specialized procedures necessary to obtain the spectacular design, thus ensuring the quality of Nishijin weaving.


In 794, Heian-ky? became the new capital city[1] and soon after the production of Nishijin-ori increased to supply the Imperial Court and aristocracy. However, the need for the materials began to decrease, causing these skilled weavers to go into business on their own rather than working for the textile offices.

The demand for the material continued to dwindle during the Muromachi Period due to the ?nin War (1467–1477), exacerbated by a string of internal conflict in Kyoto and drought over the following years,[2] where the majority of Kyoto was demolished. The people of Kyoto fled to nearby towns for safety.[3] Finally, in the 1480s the war ended and the Kyoto residents returned home,[4] established residence, and contributed to the name 'Nishijin', which means West position. This name was established due to Kyoto residents' settlement being located on the exact piece of land the Army of Yamana Sozen had occupied during the war.[5] Another group established residence in the northern portion of Kyoto in NRDD. This northern group is known for producing 'Nerinuki', a shimmering fabric made from raw silk and scoured silk.

After the war, Nishijin-ori weaving began to thrive. The weaving community supplied and provided materials for both the Imperial Courts and the samurai lords. This increased their productivity which led to improvements in the product from using new procedures to create new designs, such as the use of the gold brocade and Damask silk that originated in Ming Dynasty China.

During the Edo period, from 1603–1836, Nishijin-ori weaving continued to thrive. Many Japanese studied the art and continued to pass down their trade through the generations of skilled professionals. In 1837, there was an abrupt stop to the Nishijin trade due to the unavailability of materials because of crop failures. Kyoto had fallen on hard times and was unable to continue weaving. In addition, in 1869, Japan announced their new capital to be Tokyo. This was thought to be the end of the Nishijin trade.

1872 saw the Nishijin trade began to flourish once again, attributable to a trip to Europe to learn from the European weaving trade. During this trip, the Japanese learned new techniques from the people of Europe. The Japanese adapted to the use of European methods and machinery. The Europeans taught the Japanese how to produce the Jacquard loom and the flying shuttle.

By 1898 the Nishijin textile trade was well developed and encompassed the technology shared by the Europeans. This marked a beginning of a new era of Nishijin weaving and initiated the use of machinery in the Japanese trade. Nishijin has continued to have a successful textile industry throughout the years. Today Nishijin weaving is seen more frequently in Japanese ceremonies, weddings being the most prominent. Specifically, the traditional kimono for the bride is a work of art displaying the Nishijin designs that have been handed down through generations of a family. These traditional designs range from scenes of nature, different breeds of birds and several different types of flowers. Several other products, including kimono scarves, different types of kimonos, belts, shawls, many different types of cloth and decorations that adorn the walls of Japanese homes, are also made using Nishijin weaving.

Tatsumura Textile is located in Nishijin, and is a center of manufacturing today. Founded by Heizo Tatsumura I in the 19th century, it is renowned for making some of the most luxurious obi.[6] Amongst his students studying design was the late painter Insh? D?moto. The technique Nishijin-ori is intricately woven and can have a three-dimensional effect, costing up to 1 million yen.[7][8][9]


  1. ^ Kyoto City Web, 2004
  2. ^ Farris, 2006
  3. ^ (Kyoto Nishijin, 2004)
  4. ^ On Returning home the Japan Atlas
  5. ^ (The Japan Atlas)
  6. ^ "About Heizo 1st Tatsumura | Official Site of Tatsumura Textile, Kyoto". Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ "Nishijin-ori Fabric". Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ "JAL Guide to Japan - Nishijin-ori Weaving and Textiles". Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ Retrieved 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)


External links

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