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About the Kyofusa-himo video

This video, titled【The 22nd 'Kyofusa-himo craftman Kyozo Kagitani - Unchangeable Tie-」|KBS Kyoto TV 'Kyoto walk for everybody' -Kyoto craftsman note-」】was shared by kbskyoto2, and is an interview video of the craftsman, Kyozo Kagitani- A Kyofusa-himo artisan.

Mr Kagitani has been making Kyofusa-himo for 60 years! His store Kagiben Himofusa (鍵辨紐房店, Kagiben Himofusa ten) is located on Ogawa street in Nakagyo district(中京区小川通り, Nakagyo-ku Ogawa-dori, Kyoto), in Japan's Kansai region, and was founded in 1914 by his grandfather.
They have since been making Kyofusa-himo by hand, using a traditional technique.
Enjoy the art of this beautiful traditional Japanese technique.

What are Kyofusa-himo?

Kyofusa-himo have a long history and have evolved over time.
In the Heian period (794-1185), Kyofusa-himo were produced as decorative tassels for furnishings and other ornaments. In the Kamakura period (1185-1333), people produced and used them as decorations for weaponry, helmets, and tea sets, or as sword straps for katanas.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), they were used for Buddhist altar equipment and on the robes of monks.
The techniques and designs have evolved in Kyoto, the birthplace of many Kyofusa-himo craftsmen and workshops alike, as well as where the main temples of many Buddhist sects are gathered.

Kyofusa-himo is used in many traditional festivals and religious rites, such as the greatest festival in Kyoto, the Gion festival.
There are many ateliers of Kyofusa-himo that have been established in Kyoto, where there are many shrines and temples, and the traditional culture has been handed down for many years.

How are Kyofusa-himo made and what are the defining features?

Kyoto's traditional Kyofusa-himo is tied with musubi-himo, which are non-twisted strings braided to the necessary thickness. They can be seen at 2:33 in the video.
With these materials, and using only simple tools such as rulers, scissors, and hemp, craftsmen tie them on a special work table that can be seen at 2:46.
A well cultivated technique is necessary to produce such superb tightness.

The decorative tie design introduced from 2:54, is a 'Sutra'(修多羅, shutara), which is a formal outfit of monks that is hung over their shoulder.
It is an essential item in Buddhist rituals.
'Sutra' means string or yarn in Sanskrit.

Sutras are made with a cord divided into 4 parts, and tied from the bottom to the top.
To ensure the cord isn't twisted, bilateral balance is very important. This subtle technique can only be cultivated through years of experience.
The craftsman Mr. Kagitani says that the most difficult thing about Kyofusa-himo is the tightness. You can see how 'Sutra' are made from 3:52 in the video.

From 5:39 in the video, we see the amazing craftsman's technique, the 'Japanese apricot tie',(梅結び、Ume musubi), which is often used for good luck charms.

After tying them, the handmade tassels are cut down to the appropriate size, and with other parts, sewed onto the bottom part of a Sutra.
A Sutra is composed of 6 different types of decorative ties that vary by size and design.
You can see them at 6:22 in the video.

A summary of the Kyofusa-himo video

The video introduces the wonderful technique of Kyofusa-himo craftsman that has been handed down for generations, so please take a look at the beauty of this process in the video.
Towards the end of the video, starting at 7:12, the craftsman Mr. Kagitani talks about his thoughts on Kyofusa-himo, saying "My life of making Kyofusa-himo is full of accomplishment and I don't have any regret''.

Kyofusa-himo aren't just restricted to items used in festivals or religious rites either! There are many items that can be used for everyday purposes, such as rosaries and phone straps. Make sure to get one of them at a Kyofusa-himo shop or online store!

【Official website】Kyofusa-himo & Yorihimo -Traditional Industry Tokyo

Written By
Sep. 15, 2020
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!
“Kyofusa-Himo”: Kyoto’s Stunning Traditional Artwork, and the Spirit Behind One Artisan’s 60 Years of Craftsmanship.
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