“HAKATA-ORI” is one of the Japanese major weaving method or its textile products.
Especially “HAKATA-OBI” (OBI sash woven by HAKATA-ORI method) is very famous and its origin is said to date back to approximately 800 years ago where a merchant in HAKATA brought back this product from the Song Dynasty of China.
Even today, its technique and designs are still progressing.
The other day, I had a study session about HAKATA-ORI, inviting a craftsman from a manufacturer called “SEN-NEN-KŌ-BŌ” in FUKUOKA prefecture.
“SEN-NEN-KŌ-BŌ” literally means “1,000 years workshop”.
This manufacturer gave this name to its company by a wish that they could continue producing the HAKATA-ORI products for another 200 years to mark 1,000 years of history in future.
Mr. Numata who came to the study session is in his 40’s, a mid-level craftsman of SEN-NEN-KŌ-BŌ.
He is introducing new items of HAKTA-ORI by traveling throughout Japan.
Talking about HAKATA-OBI, there are 7 kinds of weaving patterns and of them, he showed me this time 2 representative items, “KENJŌ-GARA” and “SOU-UKE”.
The OBI with “KENJŌ-GARA” which used to be offered from then feudal lord of FUKUOKA to EDO shogunate consists of tree motifs: “TOKKO”, “HANA-ZARA” and “OYAKO-JIMA”.
“TOKKO” is originally a Buddhist ritual implements to crush a person’s evil passions.
The motif of TOKKO is a continuous pattern by rolling the TOKKO on the fabric.
“HANA-ZARA” is originally a small dish to contain flower petals for Buddhist ceremony.
“OYAKO-JIMA” is, literally meaning “strip of parents and children”, a set of strip patterns with tree thin lines sandwiched by two thick lines, showing parents protecting their children.
There is also an opposite pattern, one thick line sandwiched by 4 thin lines, which is showing, after the parents grow old, their children take care of them, and so this strip pattern is called “KŌKŌ-JIMA” (literally means “a dutiful child strip”.
Talking about “SOU-UKE”, this weaving method is very rare and precious, it looks like three-dimensional.
SEN-NEN-KŌ-BŌ” is producing “FUKURO-OBI” (a cylindrical OBI sash) with this method and it is said they are the only manufacturer of this product in Japan.
Although there is no gold thread used, it luxuriously shines by the silk threads used as much as 12,000 for warps.
Due to this amount of the warps, it takes 4-5 days just to set the warps on the weaving machine.
While normal HAKATA-OBI uses 3,000 to 4,000 warps, this FUKURO-OBI of SOU-UKE called “SOU-UKE HON-BUKURO” uses about 4 times more warps, which is needless to say, a work of art made by skillful artisans.
It is not easy to pass down such delicate skill, fully training a single craftsman, it is time-consuming and costs a lot.
However, the efforts by SEN-NEN-KŌ-BŌ will never flinch, aiming at continuing until 1,000 years anniversary of HAKATA-ORI.
Very typical nature of Japanese craftsman, diligence and perfectionism should be the key elements by which such splendid product can be made.
When you wear HAKTA-OBI tightly, you can hear the squeak of the silk threads, which sounds very good.
Once it is fastened, never get loosen, this is the very technique that the HAKATA-ORI craftsman is proud of.