"Dyeing Artisans" make kimonos worn by members of the Imperial Family.
Kimono is a condensed version of the Japanese aesthetic sense of dyeing, weaving, and embroidery. It is said that the current form of the kimono was born about 1,200 years ago, and over its long history, production techniques have developed in various areas of Japan. Among these, Kyoto is famous as the largest kimono production center for Nishijin-ori, Kyo-yuzen, Kyo-komon, and other kimono.
In Kyoto, Sairin Co., Ltd. conveys to the future the artisanal techniques and noble beauty of hand-painted Kyo-yuzen. The company is also known as a master dyer of hand-painted yuzen, which is worn by many members of the imperial family.
In 2020, Tomoko Fujii, the president of the company, took over the family business from Mr. Hiroshi Fujii, who is also known as an artist dedicated to the imperial family. We interviewed Ms. Fujii, who has been exposed to traditional crafts since her childhood, about the importance of "continuing to change in order to stay the same.”
Only 10% of the rare "hand-painted yuzen”
Among dyeing techniques, "Kyo-yuzen" is characterized by its gorgeous embroidery and gold leafing on elegant designs in multiple colors, which is unprecedented in the world. The most notable technique of Sairin is its unique yuzen technique, which cannot be imitated by any other company.
kimono by Hiroshi Fujii
Hand-painted yuzen, as the name implies, is created by hand, from the very first draft of the design in the dyeing artist's mind. Usually, a narrow brush is used for coloring, but Sairin uses a wide brush, which requires more advanced techniques, to dye even the core of the silk fabric, and to express deep and profound colors.
There are about 15 processes involved in making a Kyo yuzen kimono, including drafting, gluing, and finishing, each of which has its own specialized craftsman. Many of these craftsmen are now independent and outsource their work, but we have long had direct contracts with these craftsmen, and the exquisite gradation and brush application of multiple colors, which require great skill, are unique techniques that cannot be imitated anywhere else.
painting by a wide brush
Bringing out the charm of women
There are many wonderful traditional crafts handed down from our predecessors.
Sairin's new brand "RITOFU" is a new brand that offers the delicate beauty of such handicrafts to women living in the modern age.
There are still few producers around who are interested in purchasing or transmitting their products online or otherwise, due to the industry's long-established customs.
I would like to preserve the techniques and sense of beauty that Japanese people have cherished since ancient times, and I believe that this does not mean that old-fashioned is the only way to go. I feel that it is important to keep up with the fun and fashion for women that fits the current era.
I feel the need to take on new challenges in order to preserve what is good, and since I became the representative during the Covid-19 disaster, I was able to devote my time to preparing kimonos for online purchase.
For those living outside of Japan who have never had the custom of wearing kimonos, she wants them to enjoy kimonos in their daily lives. With this in mind, they have added kimono to their assortment of small items such as clutch bags and pouches.
I think that many people think that kimono is difficult to wear, and it is completely different from western clothes. Even in this aspect, I would like to propose "kimonos for yourself" that allow you to genuinely enjoy the colors and patterns as a fashion item.
At RITOFU, we also incorporate colors that look good on the face and trends in clothing to make adult women look beautiful.
We hope that wearing a kimono will make you feel glamorous and give you a chance to gain confidence in yourself. Even in a gathering of people wearing western clothes, you can wear a kimono in a stylish way without looking out of place, so we would like you to feel free to wear it to lunch and other casual occasions.
I believe that creating such "days when you sparkle and shine" will lead to a more vibrant life.
It is the handmade items that move a person emotionally.
In our fast-paced daily lives, "what we choose for ourselves" is important to lead to emotional enrichment. Ms. Fujii hopes that even in our mass-produced, efficient society, people will value the thrill of emotional attachment.
While the use of functional and convenient things is a helpful presence in our daily lives, I feel that such commoditized things do not enliven my emotions.
If we rely on them completely, our daily lives will become a repetition of the same routine. On special occasions and milestones, I think it is important to enrich our emotions by touching something handmade or something delicate and time-consuming, as something we can enjoy in life.
Japan Luxury to be Proud of to the World
Fujii is flexible to the trends of the times while preserving the traditional culture of kimono handed down from his father, a master craftsman. At the core of her proposal of new kimono styles for the next generation is her deep respect and love for Japanese culture.
Nowadays, new technologies are being created one after another, and the world is moving faster and faster, but at the same time, I feel that technology is fast becoming obsolete.
On the other hand, the traditional culture of Japan and Kyoto has its own unique worldview, aesthetic sense, and stories that have been nurtured over a long period of time. It is a culture that many people from overseas are interested in and are proud of.
To stay the same, we continue to change.
While continuing to carry on the culture and techniques of Kyo-yuzen, Ms. Fujii will continue to thrill and surprise us with new kimono styles that sparkle in our daily lives.