Maiwai (celebratory fisherman’s coat)
Cotton
Tsutsugaki, stenciling, handpainting, dyes, pigments

Maiwai were awarded to fishing crews if they exceeded the year’s projected catch, and were worn on special occasions. Appropriate to a garment specific to the fishing industry, this maiwai depicts the well known Japanese tale of Urashima Taro. After saving a turtle, who is actually a princess in an underwater kingdom, Urashima is rewarded for his kindness with a trip to the kingdom.

On this maiwai, Princess Otohime and Urashima Taro unfurl a banner reading ‘taigyo’ or ‘great catch’, signifying that the crew exceeded the year’s projections. The tuna next to Otohime indicates this crew’s specialization. Tuna can grow to be very large, so tuna fishing was very physically demanding work, and more dangerous than other fields of fishing.

The wear and tear at the right shoulder shows that this maiwai was probably used on more than just ceremonial occasions. The crane crest is a feature of most maiwai. The banner carried by this crane repeats the word ‘taigyo’. On some maiwai, the banners carried by the cranes identify the fishing vessel, adding a degree of personalization.  The crane would typically be made by two very large stencils (left and right sides).  The designs at the skirt would also have been made with stencils much larger than those used for traditional kimono designs.

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