This is a simple guide to Japanese countryside textiles. I hope you can gain a little insight from the simple descriptions, and I encourage readers to follow up on something that they might find inspirational. All photos were provided by Jim Austin of Kimonoboy.com.
Rags and scraps used to repair countless holes, tears, and rips. Simple sashiko stitching done by firelight in farm houses, fabric worn to threadbare scraps. Unintentional beauty through poverty and simplicity, these are the culmination of all the farm/countryside textiles of Japan. You can sometimes find examples of several different Japanese textiles on one boro piece.
Thread resist-dyed patterns. This is the conventional Japanese fabric. There are many varieties. Stripes, small geometric patterns, checks, to pictures. The most common method is a resist-dye. Lining up the threads and applying a paste to the parts that won’t be dyed. Dyeing them and then removing the paste, finally lining the thread up again and weaving them into a fabric. Kasuri is used frequently in farmers clothing and bedding.
This is a stencil resist-dyed fabric (cotton, hemp). Usually after the white threads have been woven, the craftsperson cuts a stencil that makes an unbroken pattern on persimmon paper and applies a paste. These prints are used on clothing, and decorative textiles like kakemono. The art here is in the skill of the craftsman who makes the stencil (katagami). A good run-down of these techniques can be found on my friend Bryan’s blog here.
Threads from cotton thread production are woven in the weft and produce a striped appearance. The texture is a little more neppy and slubby.
In the sake making process rice is pressed through these cotton canvas bags. Kakishibu and sashiko repairs are applied to extend the lifespan of each one.
Shredded fabric is rewoven on narrow looms for kimono belts (obi). Sometimes these are sewn together to make donza (fisherman work coats) or noragi (work coats). Saki-ori is both warm and durable.
Loosely woven bast fibers usually hemp, but depending on the region, ramie, wisteria, or linden are used. These are usually dry woven so they are rough to the touch.
Calico, or Chintz in English, but in Japan the arabesque prints were changed to suit the Japanese taste. Yuzen style designs and printing techniques were used. Ancient Sarasa fabric was dyed on silk and hemp in Japan, later pieces were done on cotton.
Kogin-Sashi is from the far north of Japan in Aomori. The sashiko technique is done is geometric patterns, the base fabric is usually indigo-dyed hemp, the stitching white cotton. Used decoratively by women to personalize their kimonos, it also makes the garment warmer and more durable.