【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Kiryu weave (Gunma Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Kiryu weave (Gunma Prefecture)~


Kiryu weave(Princess Shirataki)



【Production area of Kiryu weave】

Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture



【What is Kiryu weave ?】

Textiles produced in the area around Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture.

Kiryu has long been a prosperous area for the sericulture industry, partly because of its natural environment such as climate conditions and topography.

Jomo karuta was born in 1947, and the “Ki” tag reads “Kiryu is the center of Japan.”


Loved for its soft texture and rich luster, it is used not only in high-end kimonos but also in various clothing accessories.

In order to make the most of the history, culture, and regional characteristics nurtured by Kiryu weaving, the city has set itself up as “Fashion Town Kiryu.”

The local people will continue to transmit to the world in the future.


In October 1977, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Kiryu weave】

The biggest feature is the following seven weaving techniques.


・Clothing weave

referring source:Kiryu Textile Museum


The highest quality product originated from Kiryu weave.

This name comes from the fact that Ienari Tokugawa, the 11th shogun of the Edo Shogunate, used it regularly.

Features fine unevenness.


・Weft brocade weave

referring source:Kiryu Textile Museum


The warp is a single color, but the weft uses eight or more colors to express the pattern.


・Warp brocade weave

referring source:Kiryu Textile Museum


Three or more colors are used for the warp threads, and two or more colors are used for the weft threads to express the pattern.


・Futsu weave

referring source:Kiryu Textile Museum


The pattern is expressed by using threads of different colors on the front and back, and by exposing the double fabric on the front and back.


・Ukitate weave

referring source:Kiryu Textile Museum


By using more than two colors of warp threads, it expresses a pattern that looks like embroidery.


・Warp pattern weave

referring source:Kiryu Textile Museum


The kasuri pattern is expressed with warp threads, and multiple weft threads are used to express the pattern.

A very labor intensive weaving method.


・Twisted weave

referring source:Kiryu Textile Museum


A technique in which the warp and weft threads are entwined and combined to create gaps in the weave.



Kiryu weave continues to attract attention, such as the creation of “painting weave” through the insatiable pursuit of technology by craftsmen.



【History of Kiryu weave】

The beginning of Kiryu weave dates back to the Nara period, about 1,300 years ago.

In the history book “Shoku Nihongi” (Chronicle of Japan Continued), it is recorded that in 714, the country of Ueno (now Gunma Prefecture) delivered silk to the Imperial Court.

From this, you can see that the textile industry has been thriving in Gunma since ancient times.


There is also a legend that explains why textiles have taken root in Kiryu.

What is the legend…


A man who lived in Yamada District, Kozuke Province decided to serve the Imperial Court, where he fell in love with Princess Shirataki, a court lady.

The man’s wish comes true and he marries Princess Shirataki.

The life of the two begins in Kiryu City, the man’s hometown.

Combined with her knowledge of sericulture and weaving, Princess Shirataki passed it all on to her locals.


This is the story.


It is said that Yoshisada Nitta and Takauji Ashikaga, who were famous historical figures in Japan, liked to use Kiryu textiles.


In the Edo period, Kiryu became known as a production area for silk fabrics.

As evidence of this, at that time it came to be called ‘Nishijin in the west, Kiryu in the east.’


In 1887, the Sawa family, who ran a raw silk business in Kiryu, established Nihon Orimono Co., Ltd.

This became a big trigger, and they succeeded in industrialization.

Kiryu established itself as one of Japan’s leading textile production areas.


In 2020, people involved in Kiryu weaving registered the trademark of “KIRYUtextile” in Japan and overseas, and are actively working to expand into overseas markets.



【Production process of Kiryu weave】

①Silk reeling

In order to weave from now on, craftsmen make raw silk.
Since the types are different, prepare the warp and weft separately.


②Scouring, Dyeing, Gluing

referring source:桐生市


Scouring is the process of washing raw silk in hot, slightly alkaline water for about an hour to remove impurities.
Dyeing is the process of dyeing the yarn to a specified color after scouring.
Glue is applied to the weft thread.
Once the nori, which weighs twice as much as the weft, is kneaded by hand, the process is complete.


Gluing is done to prevent the twisted threads from returning to their original shape in the next process of twisting.


③Twisted Yarn

referring source:Kiryu City


Twisting is the process of twisting very thin threads together to create strong threads.
Using a special machine, a 1m thread is twisted about 2,000 times.

When the twisting is completed, the thread is reeled in preparation for the next process.


④Warping and tube winding

referring source:Kiryu City


The craftsman adjusts the thread to the length that matches the product to be woven.
This process is called “warping”.
In addition, the work of winding the weft thread around the wooden tube, which acts as a bobbin in a sewing machine, is called “winding”.
Kudamaki is done by craftsmen or by machine.


⑤Design and Monkiri

referring source:Kiryu City


“Design” is the design of a product.
The completed design is copied onto design paper, which is graph paper that draws the combination of warp and weft threads.
After that, holes are made in the paper to represent the information of the designed pattern, and this process is called “monkiri”.
The crest serves as a set of instructions for which color threads to put out on the surface at what timing.


Monkiri is a traditional method that has been done for a long time, but now it can be done entirely on a computer.
Designed on a computer and saved as image data.
By sending the data to the loom, it is also possible for the machine to automatically weave the designed pattern.

The use of computers has greatly expanded the scope of design.
Originally, Kiryu weave was highly valued for its richness of expression, but its design power has been further refined.


⑥Jacquard and preparation

referring source:Kiryu City


A jacquard is a machine that sends pattern data created by a pattern paper or a computer to a heddle.
A heddle is a device that raises and lowers each warp thread.
The movement of the jacquard is conveyed from the harness thread to the warp thread to open the opening and express the designed pattern.

The Jacquard loom was invented by the French in 1806.
80 years later, Kiroku Sawa imported a foreign-made jacquard piano machine to Kiryu.



referring source:Kiryu City


As mentioned above, there are seven weaving techniques in Kiryu weave.
Each technique is used according to instructions from the jacquard, and various patterns are spun out.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the sight of the colorful dyed threads being woven vividly is the highlight.


After weaving is completed, the surface of the product is carefully inspected by hand.



The product is immersed in hot water to remove the glue from the weft threads in the previous process.
When the glue is removed, the thread becomes sticky, and this appears as unevenness on the surface of the fabric.
This unevenness is “Shibo”.



referring source:Kiryu City


Expand the width of the product while immersing it in hot water to remove the “Shibo” that cause unevenness on the surface of the fabric.
At this time, the texture unique to Kiryu weave is brought out while beating with a wooden mallet.
Finally, check for any imperfections such as dirt, and if necessary, repair work is completed.

Kiryu weave products sold in the market are marked with the “Traditional Mark,” which is a symbol of traditional crafts.





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