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An Introduction to Hand-painted Kyo-yuzen Kimono

This video, titled "How to Make Hand-Painted Kyo-yuzen|how to make Kimono" (手描き京友禅の作り方-how to make Kimono (熨斗 - 引き振袖) 有限会社 琢磨), was released by "Yuzen Takuma."

Kyo-yuzen is a dyeing method used to color kimono and was designated as a Traditional Craft by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1976.
Kyo-yuzen, which originated in Kyoto, along with Kaga-yuzen (加賀友禅) and Tokyo-yuzen (東京友禅), are the three most famous types of Yuzen in Japan.
Yuzen refers to the traditional dyeing process used to add color and designs to kimono.

The History of Kyo-yuzen

Image of Kyoto hand painted Yuzen
Photo:Kyoto hand painted Yuzen

The Kyo-yuzen method of dyeing originated in Kyoto in the late 17th century, during the Edo Period (1603 AD - 1868 AD).
Yuzen Miyazaki, who was a fan painter at the time, decided to paint some of his popular designs onto kimono and thus, Yuzen kimono dyeing was born.

At a time when the shogunate had prohibited luxury or extravagance through sumptuary laws, the new Yuzen process, which was exempt from this law, was welcomed by kimono craftsmen and women who enjoyed wearing kimono.

Kimono Decoration Using the Kyo-yuzen Method at the Famous Kimono Store "Takuma"

The well-established kimono store Takuma featured in this video, which has been in business for more than 40 years now, gives us insight into how kimono are dyed using the Kyo-yuzen method.

As you can see from 0:32 in the video, the material used to create the kimono is of the highest quality, from the producer "Otsuka" (大塚).

Next, you can see how patterns are first sketched out and then transferred to a different sheet that will become the final copy to transfer the design onto the kimono.
From there the fine details are added, after which a paste and powder are added to certain parts of the design to prevent colors from seeping into spaces they should not be.
A special kind of temple is then affixed to the fabric to hold it in place after which hot water is applied to the fabric to complete the preparations for the dyeing process.

Next, a base color is applied to the fabric.
A small section of fabric is dyed to test the color, then the dye is applied by brush.

The fabric is then steamed to allow the dye to sink into the fabric, after which the fabric is then washed in water to get rid of any remaining dye or chemicals.

The beautiful designs are then carefully hand-painted and finished with gold leaf to make the kimono even more luxurious.
Takeyamachi embroidery (竹屋町刺繍) and Kinkoma embroidery (金駒刺繍) are then added to complete the look.
You can take a look at the final product at 6:48 in the video.

Summary of Kyo-yuzen Traditional Dyeing

Image of Niningsaka, Kyoto
Photo:Ninenzaka, Women in Kimono

Kyo-yuzen is a beautiful, traditional Japanese method of dyeing.
Please enjoy the techniques and methods used by the Kyo-yuzen masters in the video.

Kimono can be purchased online, however, if you would like to order a custom-made kimono, we highly recommend visiting the store to speak with the store owner.

The beauty of Kyo-yuzen kimono is as appreciated today as it was hundreds of years ago when it was first developed.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about this traditional craft!

Written By
Sep. 15, 2020
Japan
有田 和義(Kazuyoshi Arita)
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