Futakoshi chirimen, also called ancient chirimen, is one of traditional fabrics that have been handed down in Japan for years.
Chirimen is white crepe cloth produced in the Tango region of Kyoto and the Nagahama region of Shiga. Most kimonos are made with this white chirimen which is then dyed to create beautiful kimono colors.
Chirimen is made by first scouring silkworm thread and then twisting about 18 to 27 of these threads into one thread.
There are two kinds of chirimen depending on the method of weaving. For Hitokoshi chirimen, one thread is twisted from the right and the next one from left, and these are alternated in the weaving process. Futakoshi chirimen uses two threads instead of one and it has a more uneven surface than Hitokoshi.
Most of the chirimen made from the Edo period to the Meiji period was futakoshi chirimen. After the end of the Meiji period, however, the weaving of chirimen started to wane and it is hardly made now.
Futakoshi chirimen is soft and airy and it has good ventilation. It is also light weight and has elasticity. It is a silk fabric that keeps the look and feel of authentic chirimen.
Toto-Awase is a memory game in which the players have to match two cards to create a complete fish illustration and the kanji character that represents the name of the fish. Each card also has a brief description of the fish depicted. These fish are all familiar species in Japan and their illustrations have been beautifully done with colorful paper patterns. The game was created by Toto Koubou in Tango Uocchikan Aquarium, located in Miyazu City, Kyoto.
Since its début on the market in the Spring of 2003, Toto-Awase, with its beautiful illustrations, has gained popularity. The game has the added benefit for children of teaching them the various fish species and their respective kanji characters. The total sale of Toto-Awase games has now exceeded 100,000. The game received a Good Design Award in 2005 and a Good Toy Award in 2006. Currently there are eleven different sets of the memory game according to different regions. The illustrations are elaborate collages with colorful papers of traditional patterns and the box containing the cards is decorated in vermillion and ultramarine - the quintessential colors of Japan. An English version is also made under the name “Card Game Sushi Bar” and it is popular as a souvenir for people to bring abroad.
In mid-May, wisteria blooms beautifully over the mountains. Fujifu is a cloth made by weaving fabrics extracted from the vines of those wisterias. In the Tango areas, the weaving skills that developed over 1,200 years are now designated as a traditional handicraft of Kyoto.
The history of fujifu is long. There is a phrase that indicates the presence of fujifu even in the 'Manyoushu' (a collection of Japanese poetry, compiled around the mid-8th century), which mentions 'the fujifu of a salt farm worker, working for the lord'. Also, an anecdote describes how the Emperor Godaigo took a wisteria seedling with him to Okinoshima island, when he was exiled there by the Kamakura Shogunate in 1333 (Genkou 2). The anecdote explains that he loved the wisteria and remembered the imperial capital by dressing in fujifu cloth.
At one time, fujifu was being produced widely across Japan as general apparel. Today, there have been approaches to adapt fujifu for modern lifestyles by making new products, such as 'noren' curtains, tapestries, obi belts and interior accessories.
"Tanzen” is a thickly-padded over-kimono worn in winter for lounging. It is also called “Dotera” in the Kanto region. Tanzen or Dotera is usually worn over yukata. It is also fastened with an obi belt just like kimono. The striped patterns are popularly employed for Tanzen, which are called Tanzen stripes.
It is said that Tanzen became popular in the early Edo period (1603-1868), when men in the town in Edo competed in attracting attention of a yuna (a female bathing attendant at a public bathhouse) named Katsuyama. She worked at a public bathhouse Tanzen-buro, helping the customers by scrubbing their backs or combing their hair during the day. However, the customers could have sexualintercourse with yuna at night, a lot of men visited to see her. As she liked unique ways of dressing, the men began to wear very wide obi belts to pretend to be a personof tastes.
Tanzen later became popular among servants working for samurai, and was gradually worn by the commoners.
Tango crepe ('chirimen') is a white fabric that features a special crimping method called 'shibo', made by twisting the threads over a thousand times. It is manufactured on the Tango peninsula on the northern coast of Kyoto prefecture.
The 'shibo' fold is made by wrinkling the cloth over 3,000 times. In tango crepe, the fold is crucial: firstly, it subdues the brightness of the silk and adds warmth; secondly, it gives a willowy touch, a result of the damp climate of the area; finally, it creates a fantastically white fabric that responds well to dyeing.
Tango crepe is a luxury article due to the high quality of material used and for the precision of its technique. It has a great reputation as a top-quality silk fabric.