Shop Noren (curtain)
Asa (hemp)
Woven, hand painted with sumi ink

The curtain reads Itomonosho, or Haberdashery. The same style of small curtains can be seen hanging from the eaves of the dyer’s shop in the Hiroshige woodblock print above.

Traditionally, Japanese is written right to left, but on this curtain Itomonosho is written from left to right.  This change began during the Meiji period, helping to date this noren.

Man’s Juban (underkimono)
Silk crepe
Four shibori techniques

Men’s kimonos are generally very conservative. Traditionally, the underkimono, which will be seen only by intimate friends in casual circumstances, is used as an outlet to express more of the wearer’s personality. The artist could easily have fit three complete starfish on the back of the juban, but it is not uncommon for Japanese artists to leave part of the design for the viewer to infer.

Happi Coat (worker’s jacket)
Cotton
Rice paste resist, dye, cinnabar pigment

Originally, Kadoebi (boxed prawn) was the name of a well-known brothel in Yoshiwara, the licensed pleasure quarters of Edo (now Tokyo). The employee who wore this dynamic design, however, worked for a hot spring spa by that name in the town of Atsumi Onsen.

Obi (sash)
Shifu: cotton warps, waste washi paper wefts
Woven

The very tightly twisted weft thread has been unrolled to reveal washi paper, and a fragment of writing in sumi ink. It was not uncommon for writing paper to be salvaged and recycled, as here, to make thread. The washi thread above is fairly robust, but very fine shifu was also made for members of the military aristocracy (with pristine washi, and often woven with silk warps).

Child’s yogi (padded sleeping cover) for a special occasion
Silk, waste silk padding, cotton velveteen collar
Shibori

Roundels with scalloped edges are Japanese design shorthand for snowflakes. This playful yogi has two pairs of matching clam shells (possibly a reference to the shell matching game played at New Year’s) at the sleeves and a folding fan at the neck, in the same locations as formal crests are normally located.

Futon cover
Cotton
Double kasuri

This futon cover consists of four panels with two separate designs: a castle in weft kasuri, and a geometric design in double kasuri. The castles are all woven in the same direction, but the panels have been placed alternately right side up and upside down so the bedding has no right or wrong direction.

There is an extraordinary range of motifs in antique e kasuri, some of which are very rare. This castle design was very popular.

This style of kasuri is called Kurume kasuri (or Kurume gasuri), after the region in Kyushu (southern Japan) where it originated, as well as e kasuri (or e gasuri), meaning picture kasuri.

Above, a close up of the tomoe mon. The outer cross is in double kasuri; the crest is in weft kasuri. Below, a close up of the stylized pine trees in weft kasuri.

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Kimono with designs of Japanese syllabary
Silk crepe
Katazome (stenciled)

Styled after Keisuke Serizawa

Kimono with designs of factories and smoke
Silk
Stenciled warps and wefts

In the ’20s, artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Adriaan Lubbers documented the rise of The Machine Age with their renderings of tall buildings lit up at night and smoking factories. Japanese textile artists often took their inspiration from western trends in art, as shown here.

Pair of suneate (shinguards)
Horsehair, handspun cotton
Woven

In the first picture, a samurai ties on suneate with metal reinforcements. In the second (a Hokusai print of Mt. Fuji seen from Kajikizawa), a fisherman in simpler suneate. It was believed that indigo was effective as an insect repellant. Very likely, the fisherman’s shinguards were dyed in indigo.

Samurai_tying_suneate

Hokusai - Mt. Fuji seen from Kajikizawa

Hitoe (unlined kimono) with boat, wave and ripple motifs
Silk or rayon
Stenciled warps, stenciled and hand tie-dyed wefts (meisen)

The design this kimono is reminiscent of similar kimonos with banana or bamboo leaves, but the use of traditional Japanese boats – particularly since they are out of context and somewhat abstract in their unrealistic positions – conveys a sense of playfulness on the part of the designer. The red background indicates that it was made for a young unmarried woman.

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