【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Nibutani-attus (Hokkaido)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Nibutani-attus (Hokkaido)~





【Production area of Nibutani-attus】

Biratori Town, Saru District, Hokkaido



【What is Nibutani-attus?】

A fabric made from tree bark fibers produced in Biratori Town, Saru District, Hokkaido.

Made from halibut and linden trees that grow in the Saru River, which is a symbol of Biratori Town.

The fiber is extracted from the inner skin of the halibut, and the thread is spun and woven using a loom.

It is mainly used as accessories such as kimono, hanten, apron, and obi.

In March 2013, it was designated as a traditional craft together with Nibutani Ita.


The name Nibutani is derived from the Ainu word “Niptai” (meaning a place where trees grow thickly).

People who value nature and Ainu culture have inherited the old traditions and continue to make crafts today.



【Features of Nibutani-attus】

There are four main features of Nibutani Attu.


・Excellent ventilation

・Resistant to water

・Natural fiber but very durable

・Unique texture


In addition, the tools and construction methods used for production have remained almost unchanged for over 100 years.

It was originally a fabric for making clothes, taking advantage of its durable characteristics.

However, as they traded with people other than the Ainu people, their beauty and functionality were highly evaluated, and they are now recognized as traditional crafts.



【History of Nibutani-attus】

Nibutani-attus was made by Ainu women to provide durable clothes for their precious family members.

The Ainu people have passed down the traditions of how to make and techniques through words.

The written records that remain today are not written by the Ainu, but by the Wajin who traded with the Ainu.

According to records left by Wajin, the popularity of Nibutani-attus as a craft has increased since the end of the 18th century.

Based on these past records, it is believed that in areas of Hokkaido that were not blessed with seafood, they encouraged the production of crafts as items for trade.


Nibutani-attus is durable and resistant to water, so it was useful as work clothes for sailors who traveled between Ezochi (Hokkaido) and the mainland of Japan.

In addition, there are many records about Nibutani-attus, such as being worn in a Kabuki play (Tenjiku Tokubei Hanbanashi) and being written by a foreigner who came to Japan in his own book.


In the 30’s of the Showa era, a boom in traditional folk handicrafts triggered the development of Nibutani’s-attus as a local industry.

Originally, women were involved in the production, but men also began to participate in collecting bark.

Furthermore, in order to enable mass production as a region, the Ainu people proceeded with the division of labor in each process.



【Production process of Nibutani-attus】

①Collecting bark

referring source:Nibutani Ainu Craft


As many people as possible will strip the bark of halibut and linden trees.

The more moisture the bark contains, the easier it is to peel off, so around June is a good time.


In the case of halibut trees, trees with few branches and nodes and a diameter of 15 to 20 cm are often selected.

After choosing a tree, put a hatchet 30 to 40 cm from the base of the standing tree.

When inserting the hatchet, take care not to damage the woody part (the hard part inside the trunk of the tree), and lift the bark off a little.

The point when stripping the bark is to strip it “with the same width as much as possible” and “long”.

By peeling off the thread while shaking it while twisting it so that it does not become too thin, it becomes possible to obtain a long, high-quality thread.


②Take out the endodermis

Once the rough skin is removed, immediately remove the inner skin using your hands or a hatchet.

This is to prevent drying.

After removing the endodermis, fold and bundle it to take home.



referring source:Nibutani Ainu Craft


After the harvested endodermis is stretched, it is dried for several days.

By drying, the endothelium can be preserved for years.


The dried endodermis are bundled before boiling in hot water.

Then put the endodermis in boiling water and add the wood ash just before boiling again.

Wood ash is added because it softens the many thin layers of the endodermis and makes them easier to peel off.

After the lid is closed, the inner skin is boiled evenly by changing the top and bottom every few hours.


④Washing with running water and bark stripping

referring source:Nibutani Ainu Craft

referring source:Nibutani Ainu Craft


When finished boiling, the sliminess of the bark will come out, so wash it off with running water.

It is important to thoroughly wash the thread, as it will not be possible to make a strong thread if there is any slime left.

The layer of fibers will come off, so the point is to rub them together and peel them off with a width that is not too thin as much as possible.



Arrange them outdoors and dry them in the sun for about 14 days.

Exposure to sunlight removes the reddish-brown color, and rain spreads the color evenly.



Soak the dry fibers in water to soften them so that they can be easily peeled off.

After that, the endodermis is peeled off so that it becomes a single layer, but the point is to make it as thin as possible.

After making one layer, tear it to a width of about 2 mm and dry it again.


⑦Twisting / knotting

referring source:Nibutani Ainu Craft


After lightly twisting the fibers with both hands, they are knotted and spun into a single thread.

It is not uncommon for it to take a month to make one ball.


⑧Apply to the loom

When the warp is stretched, it becomes longer than the cloth to be woven, so the work is often done outdoors.

If the wind is strong, the threads will get tangled and the length of the threads that have been aligned will be scattered, so weaving work is done on days when the wind does not blow.


Threading work is basically done by two people.

One person goes back and forth between the fixed pile and the loom while pulling out the thread.

And another person puts it on the loom according to the determined procedure.

The finished warp threads are bundled and tied at intervals of 70 to 90 cm.

When the series of work up to this point is completed, the stakes are removed and the outdoor work is completed.



referring source:Nibutani Ainu Craft


The weaving machine called “Attu Kamupe” in Ainu language is the oldest type of hand weaving machine “Koshibata”.


The usage is as follows.


・Fix one end of the warp to a pillar or desk leg

・Fix the other end to the loom

・When sitting down, put a patch on your waist and weave while pulling the thread.


When the cloth is woven, roll it on the floor and move their body forward to continue weaving.





Please be aware that we do not,

under any circumstances, sell alcohol to minors.

I'm sorry, You don't buy this product.

Prease enter your birthday.

Prease enter your birthday.: