Yuki Tsumugi in cold winter

I often wear my favorite kimono, Yuki Tsumugi, in cold winter. Yuki Tsumugi is warm to wear because it has rich air-containing spaces in the thread. Yuki Tsumugi fits my body. The more often I wear it, the better its texture is. It’s like japan wares; the more often we use them, the better they are.

Processing Cocoon to floss silk, spinning threads from floss silk at finger tips, and weaving pongee fabrics: All the processes are manual in Yuki area, Japan. These pongee fabrics are not only rustic and warm, but also hold gorgeous from silk inside. Actually, at my first sight, Yuki Tsumugi pongee seemed far from the silk-made dress.
I heard that Yuki Tsumugi appeared in Manyo-Shu, the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, compiled about 750 A.D. In addition, surprisingly, on the chronological table of the book “National living treasure series Vol.43: Yuki Tsumugi”, the history of Yuki Tsumugi started in 656 B.C. Incredible history!

When we traveled to Ibaraki Prefecture in Japan, I dropped in at Yuki City, the origin of Yuki Tsumugi, and visited one of the museum about Yuki Tsumugi, Tsumugi no Yakata of Okujyun, where we can experienced dyeing and weaving fabrics. Immediately after we entered the museum room, it had something like a bad odor. Dye compounds, which were extracted from plant with plenty of tannin, caused that odor. Smell of plant gradually changed to good aroma, after soaking our cloths in dye compounds over again and again. It smelled like rainforest after squall. Indeed it’s natural plant-living aroma!

I dyed my T-shirt with a certain plant, Yasha-Bushi. My T-shirt gradually became black-ash colored, so a teacher of our dyeing said that it became nicely Yasha-colored. I cannot find Yasha color as the name of color by some book, but I think that Yasha is good on the ear. If we add alkaline water to Yasha-Bushi, it should become purple with a tinge of yellow. If we don’t add alkaline water, it should become shades between black and gray. These processes seem like chemical experiments. In addition, I heard that formerly, fabric-dyeing craftsmen have used lime instead of alkaline water. I am surprised that old Japanese people found variety of plant dyeing without chemical formula.

I think that culture develops with nature and climate, as well as kimonos in Japan. In addition, I realize that tradition is not only maintained, but also can develop in adapting to nature and climate. Tsumugi indeed adapts to nature, climate, and human life. Furthermore, it complements a person who wears Tsumugi to nature and climate.
In New York it's really cold in winter, so inexplicably, I would like to be wrapped in Tsumugi, rather than wear piece-dyed kimonos. Even the verbal word “Tsumugu”, which means to spin, sounds like warm.


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April 28, 2011 at 6:44 PM  

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