In KIMONO dyeing process, there are two ways: SAKI-ZOME and ATO-ZOME.
SAKI-ZOME means dyeing of threads before cloths are woven.
ATO-ZOME means dyeing of cloths after weaving.
The method of SAKI-ZOME is mainly used when making TSUMUGIs that I mentioned in the past article.
TSUMUGI is a type of KIMONO which has its origin in working clothes worn by people from silk-raising farmers because its twisted threads are made from floss silks of waste cocoons.
However, compared to KIMONOs produced by raw silk strings, TSUMUGI is much durable and warmer, so it was re-evaluated and became a product for everyone.
Because of its origin, the characteristics of TSUMUGI are the chic and profound color woven by dozens of combination of dyed threads.
The dyestuffs used over the process of SAKI-ZOME of TSUMUGI threads are made from natural plants such as leaves (草 KUSA), trees (木 KI) or, their roots, so this dyeing method is called “KUSAKI-ZOME” (草木染め, vegetable dyeing) which is indeed the gift from nature.
Of all TSUMUGIs dyed with vegetable dyes, what I love the best is “KIHACHIJŌ TSUMUGI” (黄八丈紬).
My first encounter with KIHACHIJŌ TSUMUGI was almost 20 years ago.
It was shocking for me because this beautiful and sparking in gold product was far beyond the image of TSUMUGI that I had at that time.
The name of KIHACHIJŌ derives from its yellow color (黄 KI) and the place of production; “HACHIJŌ-JIMA” (八丈島) which is a small island belonging to Tokyo.
The symbolic yellow of KIHACHIJŌ TSUMUGI is dyed with plants of the Gramineae called “KOBUNA-GUSA” (also known as “HACHIJŌ KARIYASU”), using 100% vegetable dyeing method.
This unique KIMONO was first produced by MEYU YAMSHITA based on HACHIJŌ-JIMA and then taken over by her daughter YAOKO, then today, it is produced by the couple of HOMARE YAMASHITA and his wife FUMIKO who is a grand-daughter of MEYU.
It is quite difficult to obtain this KIMONO because the cocoon used for its threads called “SHIN-KOISHIMARU” is smaller than usual in size.
While a common silkworm molts four times before the larvae starts making a cocoon, this indigenous cocoon of Japan molts three times only, therefore the quantity of silk per cocoon is smaller, making its value as a rarity.
Even after more than 20 years, my KIHACHIJŌ TSUMUGI still lusters beautifully, actually I see the color have now more depth and richness, which is the good point of KUSAKI-ZOME.
The price is high, but I assure you that this is exceptionally fine and unweary product.