Traditional Crafts of Tokyo 東京の伝統工芸品Traditional Crafts of Tokyo 東京の伝統工芸品

Omi Joufu

Omi Joufu Photo

Fostered by the well-known entrepreneurial spirit of Omi tradesmen, the hot local climate and a plentiful supply of water from the Aichi River, production of woven ramie cloth developed in this area from the Kamakura period (1185-1333). The craft flourished during the Edo period (1600-1868) with encouragement from the Hikone clan, which ruled the area around Hikone on the southern shores of Lake Biwa, and it became a well established local industry as a result. From that time on, great improvements were made in dyeing techniques giving rise to the superb ikat patterns characteristic of Omi Jofu. The ikat is either in the weft alone or in both the warp and weft. Weft threads are mainly bound before being dyed using a stencil for the weft ikat cloths. In the case of the warp and weft ikats, both sets of threads are dyed by applying the dyestuff to the bound threads. The positions of the warp and weft threads are then adjusted as the cloth is woven to produce what is one of the craft's top cloths. Ramie is a very comfortable cloth to wear as it is cool and absorbs moisture. These days, cloth is usually made for traditional garments but is also used for coats.