The strings are dyed in the colors ordered by customers, using vegetable and chemical dyes.
A very important process in the making of Kumihimo. The length, number, color, and quantity of threads are determined by the type of Kumihimo to be made and they are rolled up using a special tool.
The complexity of Kumihimo increases as the number of moves increases from 4, 8, to 24. You will be amazed at the skill with which they create the strings based on the rules of the game.
Obijime strings are braided and tasseled at both ends. When making key chains, accessories, etc., the assembled strings are used for final processing to complete the product.
You can watch the making process on YouTube!
What is Kumihimo?
“Kumihimo” refers to a cord that is woven diagonally, unlike woven fabrics that are done horizontally and vertically. It is a practical gem with a wide variety of colors, elasticity, and durability.
Characteristics of Iga-Kumihimo
Iga-Kumihimo is a type of cord made in Mie Prefecture. The main material is silk thread, and gold and silver threads and chains are used to make colorful kumihimo. 4, 8, and 24-strand braids are handmade by the craftsmen. The more braids are made, the more the expression of the craft changes. Also, the beauty of the braids, which intermingle and shine, is created by hand. The Takadai, which is used to make the most luxurious cords, can produce intricate patterns, and the handiwork of veteran craftsmen who move nearly 70 weights to assemble elegant braided cords is mesmerizing to behold.
History of Iga-Kumihimo
It is said that the art of Kumihimo was introduced to Japan in the Nara period (710-794) with the arrival of Buddhism. At that time, it was used for sutras, kesa (ceremonial robes), and the sokutai (ceremonial belt) that was essential for royalty’s attire and was also highly artistic. During the Warring States period and the Edo period (1603-1867), it was used as a decorative cord for armor and swords, which leads to the demand for it increased rapidly. Craftsmen involved in the making of armors and swords were protected by the shogunate. Kumihimo was used for the development of new things items such as tobacco pouches and inro (seal case) through the friendly competition among craftsmen. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), the industry declined with the abolition of the sword, but it regained its popularity due to the increase in the demand for Japanese-style clothing, which allowed more products to be made available to the general public.
Iga-Kumihimo was mainly used to make obijime (a belt for Kimono) and Haorimono (fasten the front part of the haori), but now there are many products available for everyday use. Kumihimo Hirai produces not only key chains and bracelets, but also mask cords and other items that take advantage of the Corona disaster. Also, in winter, static electricity tends to occur when touching doorknobs. To relieve such daily stress, they are also developing Kumihimo key chains using a specially processed thread called “Thunderlon” that eliminates static electricity. We are excited about the future ideas of their craftsmen, who are working hard to develop products with the feelings of their customers in mind.