5/04/2009

Kihachijyo (Yellow Hachijyo)

The first one of the pleasures on kimonos is to wear them beautifully, but another is to meet them, which look like mirrors reflecting Japanese local manners with traditions.

Today I introduce you Kihachijyo. Kihachijyo fabrics, very elegant striped and checked cloths, have been woven on Hachijyo Island, which is located 290 km south of Tokyo. They are especially famous for fabrics dyeing with vegetables with yellow stripes. Kihachijyo kimonos are wonderful and interesting, because they are produced in rigor of the volcanic island’s nature, but with easygoing characteristics of southern island’s manners. The big book with title of “Kihachijyo” on the photo was published in 1975. Only 1500 copies were published. We can see the second box inside the box of this book. After we open the second box, we can finally open pages.

Surprisingly this book includes some real kihachijyo fabrics. You can see one of them on the photo. There are a lot of beautiful photos of kihachijyo fabrics in this book.
I have been interested in kihachijyo, since I saw a photo where Masako Shirasu, who I yearn for, wore a kihachijyo kimono. I can imagine that Masako Shirasu slipped into a kihachijyo kimono in her daily life. Kihachijyo kimonos are never glitzy, but provide us pronounced impression for the variety of stripes and colors.
Originally they were articles for presentation to tycoons in the Edo period (1603-1867). In the late Edo period, they became popular casual kimonos in Edo, former Tokyo. Subsequently, in the middle Meiji period (1868-1912), many women used them regularly as casual wears.

This book includes the history of Hachijyo Island. I am quite interested that Hachijyo Island was called as the island of exiles. It says in this book that the people in the island welcomed exiles and causalities, and that because either highly-educated people, like samurais or monks, or professionals with techniques were exiled to the island, the island culture have been brought to an advanced state of development with a mixture of cultures around Japan. I think that various kinds of people gathered in the small island and produced the unique culture. I, living in NYC, sympathize with that situation, because Hachijyo Island seemed like New York City, the city of melting pot of different ethnic groups.

Like wonderful kihachijyo fabrics were produced in the small island, where people from a variety of different fields gathered, various dreams on art, fashion, business, science, etc are achieved in Manhattan, where people from a variety of different fields, and from all over the world gather with dreams and hopes.

The author, Urano Riichi, wrote in the afterword, “Far south from Japan’s mainland, kuroshio, the Black Stream, laps the beach and sun shines brightly in Hachijyo Island. On the other hand, sometimes no birds fly and no letters arrive at this exiled Island. Kihachijyo fabrics, originated in the Island with extreme contrast, have supported islanders’ lives as only important merchandise, or previously as important articles for presentation. Kihachijyo is a symbol of islanders’ hope and expectation to eliminate darkness of the exile island.”
Like kihachijyo, woven with islanders’ hope and expectation, I would like to make my dream come true with my hope and expectation. In addition, I want to carry my achievement to other people.


Full-page kihachijyo fabrics on the book

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