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Traditional Japanese Weaving on Shiraishi Island!

Shiraishi Island belongs to the Kasaoka Islands (笠岡諸島) found near Kasaoka City, Okayama Prefecture in Japan's Chugoku region.
The island has an area of 1.86 km², a max elevation of 169 meters, and has a population of 750 people.
The island is known for being an exceptionally scenic area in Japan.

The island's traditional woven goods are made using a loom called a "hata" (機).
This has led to products made with this method being known as "hata-ori" (機織り).

In this article, we'll introduce the weaving experience available on the island.

Try Your Hand at Weaving on Shiraishi Island

Image of hata-ori

During the Genroku Period (1688-1704), the weaving trade thrived on the reclaimed settlement of Shiraishi Island.
In recent years, in an attempt to revive the tradition, a weaving workshop where visitors can experience "hata-ori" was started.

As seen from 0:42 in the video, the relaxing sound of the cotton gin is one of the features of the weaving experience.
You might even find it therapeutic.
Next, the cotton is spun into threads on a spinning wheel.
The finished product is unimaginably soft to the touch.

The woven products of Shiraishi Island are colored using dyes made from plants grown on the island itself.
As shown at 2:05 in the video, onions, safflowers, persimmons, and cherry blossoms, and even chestnuts are used for the dyes.
Visitors are treated not as customers, but as fellow weavers and are encouraged to freely try out the weaving experience.
The management’s motto is to allow visitors to fulfill their dreams of mastering weaving.

You might now be wondering about the price of the weaving experience.
At a mere 500 yen, you should definitely give it a try if you’re interested!

Summary of Shiraishi Island's Weaving Experience

Image of Kasaoka City and Shiraishi Island coastline, Okayama Prefecture
Photo:Kasaoka City and Shiraishi Island coastline, Okayama Prefecture

Shiraishi Island is a place where you can enjoy not only weaving, but also the natural sights and sounds.
As shown in the video, visitors from overseas can have fun learning about Japanese traditions while taking in the beautiful scenery.

You can even go for a dip in the sea! Consider making a visit to Shiraishi Island during the warm summer!

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
鈴木 正孝(Masataka Suzuki)
A writer born and raised in Asakusa, Tokyo who loves traveling and novels
Experience Traditional Japanese Weaving on Shiraishi Island in Okayama Prefecture, a Place Full of Nature! The Traditional Textiles and Beautiful Scenery Are Sure to Revitalize!
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