Called Crape in English, and Crepe in French, Chrimen is loved by many around the world, and we in Japan are fond of it too. Chrimen’s weaving process is achieved by using non-twisted warp threaded together with the weft which is twisted about 3000 times per meter and weave. After that, each thread is shrunk by refinement so that the weft’s twirl comes back, and the fabric has a small uneven finish. Chrimen does not crease easily, and because of the small uneven surface it has a great supple texture. Dying in shades gives it a rich colour which is deep because of the uneven finish. Chrimen is well-known as silk, but Polyester or Rayon ones are available now.
The most well-known Chrimen is called “Tango Chrimen” and it is made in the Tango area of Kyoto, Japan.
Its name came from an artist called “Yuzen-sai Miyazaki” in the Edo period. Yuzen-sai Miyazaki was a painter of sensu (Japanese folding fans)and took the world by storm. It was said that “without Yuzen’s sensu, you are not fashionable at all”. At the request of a Kosode (Kimono) shop, he then began to design Kimonos.
The restriction on ostentatious decoration was introduced in 1683. Women’s clothes with gold and silver embroidery and time consuming products such as “So-Shibori” (tie-dye) were prohibited, and any clothing that was luxurious and flamboyant was not allowed. Women wanted beautiful Kimono, but they were not allowed to sell or buy them to wear. However, the technique of Yuzen dyeing only uses “Bosen-Nori” (protection glue) and therefore enabled the production of colourful and beautiful Kimono without breaking the prohibition. Yuzen dyeing therefore saved the Kimono business which was in trouble.
Shibori is a Japanese term for several methods of dyeing cloth with a pattern by binding, stitching, folding, twisting, or compressing it. Some of these methods are known in the West as tie-dye. In Japan, the earliest known example of cloth dyed with a shibori technique dates from the eight century and it was among the goods donated by the Emperor Shomu to the Todai-ji in Nara.
Until the twentieth century, not many fabrics and dyes were in widespread use in Japan. The main fabrics were silk and hemp, and later cotton.
Aizome is the oldest dyed fabric in Japan and was originally developed in China and brought over to Japan. The technique developed as Tade-ai and Akane Shinzen. This technique was almost completed in the Heian-period, and spread throughout Japan. However, later on in the Meiji and Taisho-period, Aizome went to ruin because of the introduction of synthetic dye imported from abroad. Together with the development in dyeing techniques and invention of weaving, Aizome fell out of use. Natural Aizome is a time-consuming process. The more it is washed, the sharper the colour becomes, and the more it ages, the more the colour becomes settled. This is because the natural indigo extracts beauty. Its fragrance has a medicinal effect.
Values of Aizome
“Ai leaves” and “Ai seed” were originally used as an anti-poison medicine, and also as antifebrile medicine. Drinking an infusion of “Ai leaves” or “Ai seed” was believed to improve your general health. It was written in the “WAKANSANSAIZUE” (edited in 1712 by medical doctor) that “Ai fruit can work as detoxicant and regulate the works of the organs.” . It also has been said that the ancient people carried “Ai leaves” when they traveled to treat food poisoning and high temperature.
An insect repellent
It has been said that fabric or paper deeply dyed with “Ai” repels insects.
Even a snake would not go near to it, so Aizome has often been used for outdoor working clothing. You do not need “naphthalene” (moth balls) if you put Aizome clothing in your wardrobe. It also has been said that “Ai” has sterilizing power for heat rash and other skin troubles so “Aizome” underwear and socks are useful. Also, old precious books are protected by “Ai” and they have been kept in good condition.
Removes odour and Keeps heat in.
When you wear Aizome underwear, you do not notice odour of sweat, they keep you warm, and you are protected from skin trouble. In ancient times, when Samurai warriors went to war, they wore Aizome underwear which is understandable.
Aizome is still used in Kendo (traditional fencing) costumes even today.
Inden is traditional leather crafts such as pouches and wallets made of flexible and strong URUSHI-lacquered deerskin.Originally from India it came to Japan in the 17th century and was first used on armours of warriors as its rich exotic colours attracted the Samurai. Later on the Inden master Enzo Uehara Yushichi invented its unique technique of lacquering which let the every day people of the Edo period to use it. This special technique of lacquering has been passed down to the eldest son in the Yushichi family, and its thirteenth master has his workshop in Yamanashi prefecture, which today is the only Inden maker in Japan.
The term inden is also use to refer to the similar process which is applied to other fabrics to produce the same textured effect.