Ikeda Kasuri Kobo

Meet the Makers

Chikugo, Fukuoka Prefecture

Ikeda Kasuri Kobo

As modern methods of production and clothing norms take their toll on the textile craft of Kurume Kasuri, Ikeda Kasuri Kobo aims to give new energy to this age-old craft. 

Ikeda Kasuri Kobo specialises in making Kurume Kasuri, a cotton ikat textile with distinctively blurred patterns, native to the Chikugo region of Fukuoka Prefecture. The textiles are made with the ikat technique, which originates from India.

Ikeda Kasuri Kobo
The kasuri technique originates from India and has been mastered by artisans in the Chikugo region

In this remarkable process, patterns are made by tying and dying yarn before the weaving takes place. The process begins with creating a pattern sheet of the fabric’s final design. After tying parts of the yarn according to the blueprint, the pattern is dyed into the individual threads. When the threads have dried, they are untied and then woven into the final fabric; craftspeople carefully select and align the threads to weave them into the most intricate designs. The finished fabric is extremely soft — a reflection of the love and care that goes into each piece of fabric.

Japan is one of the largest kasuri producers in the world. But the industry is in decline due to globalisation and modernisation. The production process is very labour intensive, the use of indigo is expensive and kimonos are being worn less frequently. As kimonos used to be worn daily, they were usually made with cotton.  But nowadays, as kimonos are usually saved only for special occasions, they are mostly made of silk.

The use of indigo is also becoming rare. Making indigo is a tricky process that requires deep knowledge and extensive experience. Typical Japanese indigo is made by a fermentation process where the indigo plant is turned into a dry leaf-like substance and then is dissolved in vats. Alcohol, wood ash and sugar are then added. After all, the fermented substance is a living organism that needs to be cared for under a precise set of conditions. Ikeda Kasuri Kobo uses 20 different vats of natural indigo dye to create a variety of dyed fabrics. 

Ikeda Kasuri Kobo
The final designs display intricate patterns and are extremely soft to the touch
Ikeda Kasuri Kobo

The finished fabric is extremely soft — a reflection of the love and care that goes into each piece of fabric

The weaving of Kasuri was traditionally done by elderly women, mostly farmers who have free time on their hands during the offseason. Along with changing lifestyles, ways of working and demographics, weavers are now hard to come by.

Ikeda Kasuri Kobo
The in-house hand-weaving studio has allowed the craft to become more accessible; busy mothers and budding young weavers work here alongside experienced artisans

Several years ago, the workshop also opened an in-house hand-weaving studio in response to the decline in Kurume Kasuri weavers. Ikeda Kasuri Kobo operates under a flexible structure where workers can drop by at their own pace. This allows a diverse group of people to get involved with kasuri production, from busy mothers to young weavers looking to gain experience working alongside experienced artisans.

Photography

Koichiro Fujimoto

Meet the Makers

The Kyushu Crafts Club presents the stories and products of fourteen innovative makers living and working on the island of Kyushu.

Exhibition Programme

The Kyushu Crafts Club is taking place 10—16 December 2020 at Club Shop in Amsterdam.