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  About this page

    This glossary provides additional information for items that require special attention.
    It will be updated periodically, with alphabetical sections added as required.
    Literal English translations have been provided where appropriate.

    If there is anything you would like to see here, please feel free to contact us.

  Alphabetical index

    Click the letter that corresponds to the keyword or term you wish to know more about.



   If there is anything you would like to see here, please feel free to contact us.


  Arimatsu-Narumi shibori
   Japanese tie-dyeing produced in Nagoya city, Aichi prefecture.
   It was designated as a Traditional Craft of Japan dating back to nearly 400 years ago in the Edo Era.
   It is dyed with indigo and has many various dyeing patterns.


  Bingo Kasuri
   Japanese textile produced in Hiroshima prefecture (Fuchu and Fukuyama City),
   and considered as one of the three famous Kasuri: Bingo, Iyo and Kurume.
   It's a hand-woven cotton fabric with woven patterns of parallel cross or figure designs.

  Bizen Ware
   One style of Japanese pottery that is made in Bizen city, Okayama prefecture.
   Bizen ware is one of the "Six Old Kilns of Japan” (Seto/Tokoname/Tanba/Echizen/Shigaraki/Bizen)
   and it is the oldest pottery making technique, introduced in the Heian period.
   In the Edo period, a new style of Bizen emerged, with statues like lions/Hotei
   (one of the Seven Gods of good luck).
   Also, incense burners were created as a gifts for the Imperial Court and shoguns.
   In addition, many daily wares such as sake bottles, water jar and mortars were made and sold in Bizen.
   Today, tea utensils, drinking vessels, and daily tablewares are mainly produced in Bizen.
   Bizen ware is reddish brown color pottery without using any glazes and
   it has various patterns on surface by Kamahen (results from wood-burning kiln firing).
   Bizen ware has ironlike hardness because it is burned in a 1200 degree oven for about 2 weeks without glazes.


   Tea caddy (for koicha)
   A small, (usually) ceramic container for koicha (dark, rich, full-bodied matcha). Originally from China.
   See natsume.

   Tea scoop
   Thin, long spoon used for transferring matcha powder from the chaire/natsume to the chawan.

   Chirimen is a silk, wool or synthetice fiber fabric with a distinctively crispm crimped appearance.
   Kinsha is a kind of Chirimen and it has more minute wrinkles, but a smooth and glossy touch.

  Combined weave
   Combined weave indicates a mix of several materials: generally, silk, synthetic fibers, and cotton.
   Unfortunately, it is hardly possible for us to specify which materials were mixed unless provided.


   A sash belt for juban.


   Pattern that flows across seams so that the garment looks like one large canvas.
   Eba designs are formal, and so will not be seen in casual kimono or daily wear.

   Eba haori
   Haori with eba pattern.

   Erishin is a piece of stiff material inserted into the han-eri
   (a decorative cloth that is sewn onto the juban's collar) in order to provide a graceful curve.


  Fukuro obi
   The most formal type of obi worn today.
   Fukuro obi are patterned on one side only (generally about two thirds of the length).
   It is hard to tell fukuro obi apart from maru obi when worn.

   Square cloth used for wiping (i.e. for the ceremonial cleansing of) tea utensils, namely scoops and caddies.

   The most formal kimono for unmarried women.
   Furisode have long, elegant sleeves (standard length 114 cm), and patterns that flow across seams.
   The level of formality is determined by sleeve length (rather than pattern, for example).

   Lid rest
   A stand on which the bamboo ladle (and eventually, the kettle lid) is placed.


  Goto Himo
   A traditional hand-tied cord invented by Toshitaro Goshima, a Intangible Cultural Property artisan.
   Produced with the same methods of cords for warrior helmets in the past,
   it's easy to tie and doesn't come undone.
   In 1960, Gotohimo cord was designated as an Intangible Cultural Property.

  Gujo Tsumugi
   One of a Japanese hand-woven soft, thin cloths produced in Hachimancho Gujogun, Gifu Prefecture.
   With the help of Rikizo MUNEHIRO, a Living National Treasure, in 1947,
   the Gujo Weaving Institute started weaving the Tsumugi which is called "Gujo Tsumugi" today.
   Threads are taken from the cocoon produced by spring silkworms and dyed with plant dyes.
   Gujo tsumugi has quality of both silk and wool, It is strong, warm and wrinkle-free.


  Haebaru Hana-ori
   Haebaru Hana-ori is a textile with floating designs produced in Haebaru-cho, Okinawa prefecture.
   It has three-dimensional designs and is woven with 8-10 heddles.
   In Haebaru, mothers handed down the methods of habna-ori to their daughters in the Meiji period (1868-1912).
   Descendants are still producing Haebara Hana-ori today.

   Han-eri is a decorative cloth that is sewn onto the juban's collar.

   Flower container
   Vase, basket, or other type of container used to display flowers during a tea ceremony.
   Generally ceramic, bamboo, or metallic.

  Hanhaba obi
   Unlined obi popular with young people.
   Hanhaba obi are half the width of a fukuro/maru obi.
   They are easy to tie and are often worn with yukata, komon, and other daily wear.

  Hige Tsumugi
   One style of weaving techniques of Japanese pongee.
   Hige-tsumugi (hige means beard) has a sort of hairy texture, having little loose threads on the surface.

   Long train kimono.
   Hashori, (edge bend) is not made when you wear Hikiduri, and the edge of Kimono will spread on the floor.
   ("Hikizuri" means dragging train.)
   Hikizuri is used as Kimono of Maiko/Geisha, Furisode/ Uchikake as bridal costume for a bride,
   and costume of high-class woman in historical drama/movie/play.

  Hiraki Nagoya obi
   Opened-type Nagoya obi. The​ fold​ is​ not​ stitched.

   Bamboo ladle
   Used to transfer hot water from the kettle to the chawan.

   Smart, stylish kimono (the equivalent of a nice dress).
   Hanhaba obi are half the width of a fukuro/maru obi.
   The hem/sleeve lining is usually the same fabric as the body of the kimono (tomohakkake).

   A silk fabric produced in Muikamachi,Shiozawamachi Uonumagun, Niigata Prefecture.
   It has small crimps of crepe like chirimen fabric, which emerge when the textile is kneaded in hot water.
   It usually has precise Kasuri patterns such as cross and kikko.


   Kimono made of white fabric that has been dyed a solid color.
   Iromuji are not as lavishly decorated as other kimono, and therefore give off a chic, sophisticated aura.


   Kimono slip
   A kimono slip/undergarment worn underneath a kimono (so that it doesn't get dirty).
   Juban also serve as an extra layer of warmth in cold weather.


   Flower vase stand
   Stand or board on which vases of flowers are placed.

   Set of four essential tea ceremony utensils (identical in terms of make and design):
   - Mizusashi (water jar)
   - Kensui (waste-water container)
   - Shakutate (ladle stand)
   - Futaoki (Lid rest)

   Kara-ori is a technique of weaving textiles.
   The woven design of kara-ori stands out from the weft (horizontal stitch) and looks similar to embroidery,
   creating a luxurious fabric. Kara-ori kimono is known as one of the most gorgeous kimono
   in the county and it are usually used for outfits in Noh plays.

   Kamo wares
   Style of Japanese pottery with a smooth, pleasant feel.
   It was created by Masaemon Azuma VI in the town of Kamo, Kyoto,
   using special clay retrieved from the mountains there.

   Hair ornaments for traditional Japanese hairstyles. They come in various shapes and sizes.

  Karinui (Karieba)
   Temporary stitch
   These unfinished kimono have been tacked/stitched together temporarily
   in order to show what the finished garment will look like.
   As such, karinui and karieba will need tailoring/sewing if you would like to wear them
   (we generally recommend them for display).
   Please note that we are unfortunately not able
   to provide size information as detailed as that found for finished items.

   Kasane-eri, also called as "Date-eri", is a decorative collar worn under a Kimono collar.

   Sweets container
   Trays, boxes, and bowls used for serving sweets during a tea ceremony.

   Splash pattern
   Rare, traditional folk textile consisting of motifs and geometric patterns with feathery, blurry edges.
   Threads are dyed first and then woven into a pattern (rather than dying a finished fabric),
   which results in the blurry lines in the design.
   As designs are woven, not printed, they can be seen on the reverse side of the fabric.

   Katazome is the japanese traditional method of dying fabrics using resist paste applied through a stencil.
   Pigment is added by hand-painting using hake (brush),
   and dyes are usually only applied on one side of the fabric.

   Waste-water container
   Hair ornaments for traditional Japanese hairstyles. They come in various shapes and sizes.
   A small vessel (generally bowl-shaped) into which water that has been used to rinse a chawan is emptied.
   The process is considered dirty, and as such is carried out as discreetly as possible
   (the kensui itself is also kept out of sight).

   Kihachijo is a hand-woven silk textile produced in Hachijo Island, Tokyo, Japan.
   It’s a silk cloth dyed with plant dyes and with vertical and cross stripes.
   It is completely hand woven with threads dyed in 3 different colors: yellow, brown and black.
   The fabric is light, tough and lustrous.

   Gold paint/dye used for ceramics and fabric.

   Kinsha is a kind of Chirimen and it has more minute wrinkles, but smooth and glossy touch.
   Mon-kinsha is a Kinsha fabric with woven patterns.

   Kinrande is a gold enameled porcelain, often seen on Arita ware, Imari ware,
   Kutani ware and Nabeshima ware.
   This decorative style porcelain was popular in the late Edo period, and many kilns produced Kinrande wares.
   It was used on bowls, pots, sake cups, incense burners, flower vases, water jars and so on.

   Incense container
   Small lidded container for incense.
   The incense is added in with the charcoal used to heat the kettle, creating a pleasant aroma.

   Old Imari porcelain
   Imari porcelain made in Arita city (Saga prefecture) during the mid-Edo era.
   Literally "Old Imari," a name by which it also often goes by.

   Hand-painted wooden dolls made in the Tohoku (northeastern) region of Japan.
   Kokeshi have spherical heads and cylindrical bodies, but lack arms and legs.
   They are a popular souvenir choice, having been sold at hot springs (onsen) since the late Edo period.
   Shapes and patterns vary by area (there are currently 11 types).

   A crisp silk gauze fabric that feels smooth on the skin.
   It is used for summer kimono.

   A casual kimono for going out (the equivalent of a Western one-piece).
   Komon have a repeating pattern of motifs that point both up and down.
   They are generally stencil-dyed (katazome), but are sometimes hand-painted.

  Korin belt
   Korin belt is a tool for putting on a kimono.
   It helps to keep the folds straight when both putting on and wearing a kimono.
   It needs to be tied securely to keep the collar in place.

   Kasuri made in Kurume city (Fukuoka) and its surrounding areas.
   It is one of the three main kasuri variations in Japan; the other two are Iyo-kasuri and Bingo-kasuri.
   Kurume-gasuri was designated the status of Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1957.
   Ten years later, it was also dubbed a Traditional Craft by the Minister of Trade and Industry.

  Kutani Ware
   Kutani ware is a Japanese porcelain with overglaze painting, made in the southern cities of
   Kanazawa, Komatsu, Kaga, and Nomi in Ishikawa Prefecture.
   The first Kutani ware was produced in 1655.
   This gorgeous porcelain is decorated with various styles of overglaze painting called ao-e,
   gosaide(5 colors paint), kinrande and so on.


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   Maeita is a stiffening board for obi. It is worn behind the sash at the front
   to avoid to making wrinkles on the obi.

   Lacquerware sprinkled with fine metal powder (generally gold and silver) to create gorgeous designs.
   Makie was originally developed for court nobles in the Heian period (794-1159).

  Mashiko Ware
   A style of Japanese ceramics produced in Mashiko, Tochigi prefecture.
   The first Mashiko ware kiln was built in the Kanei Era (1624-1644)
   and produced daily necessities such as water jars, brazier and vases.
   In 1924, the famous potter, Shoji Hamada (a Living National treasure of Japan), made his home in the region
   and began to produce works of great impact utilizing the rustic Mashiko ware style.
   Mashiko ware was designated as a Traditional Crafts of Japan in 1979.

   Water jug/jar
   Container of water that is used to rinse chawan and fill/replenish the kettle during a tea ceremony.

  Mushikui (for ceramics)
   Moth-eaten appearance
   Areas where the glaze has flaked off (on the bowl rim, for example).
   Mushikui is often seen in kosometsuke (lit. old blue and white)
   porcelain produced in China towards the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

   Please note that this usage of mushikui only refers to ceramics.
   The same term is used in Japanese for wormholes in fabric and art prints.


  Nagoya obi
   Perhaps the most commonly worn obi today.
   Makie was originally developed for court nobles in the Heian period (794-1159).
   Nagoya obi are lighter, simpler, and more convenient than fukuro obi.
   One end is folded in half and sewn; the other is the full width.
   The narrow end is wrapped around the waist, while the wider part forms the bow of the obi knot.

   Tea caddy (for usucha)
   A small wooden container for usucha (bright, light-bodied matcha).
   See Chaire.

  Nejiri Kogo
   A​ Nejiri​ Kogo​ is​ a​ small​ brocade​ vanity​ case​ originally​ used​ for​ holding​ incense.​
   It’s all​ one​ piece, and the​ top​ opens​ by twisting.

   Nishijin-ori is a textile produced in Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto.
   The name "Nishijin" (originally meaning "west position") came about because
   these gorgeous fabrics were produced in the area in Kyoto
   where the position of an army, then called "West Army" was in a civil war (O'nin no Ran) which ended in 1477.
   As it is woven by colorful threads, "Nishijin Ori" is gorgeous fabric, high quality,
   and can be stated one of key representatives of Japanese textiles.

  Noshu Tsumugi
   A Japanese soft, thin cloth produced in Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture.
   It was designed by a dyer named Yozan Ueshima.
   He was designated as a "Contemporary Master Craftsman" in 2004.


   A brooch for obijime (the decorative cord tied over an obi).

   Tool for women, used to both support and give some volume to musubi (tied-part).

   Casual antique kimono made of heavy silk crepe.
   Omeshi are woven with strongly twisted pre-dyed threads and were often worn in the Imperial Court.
   This type of kimono was loved by Ienari Tokugawa (11th shogun).

  Oshima Tsumugi
   It is produced in O'shimagun, Amami-Islands, Kagoshima.
   The color is refined and calm, and the fabric is soft and difficult to wrinkle.
   Threads are dyed with plant dyes such as indigo using a technique called "Ori Jime".
   An additional treatment is made to the dyed thread by dipping them in muddy water:
   "Doro(mud) Zome(dyeing)".
   Marki is a unit of Oshima Tsumugi that tells how many Kasuri warps were used to weave it.
   High-maruki products can weave more delicate and complex patterns,
   and a weaver needs well-trained skills and efforts to create them.


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   One of dying techniques of Kimono. Both skills of Yuzen dying and Roketsu-zome
   (a traditional Japanese wax-resist technique) are applied.

  Ryukyu bingata
   Okinawan traditional resist dyed cloth.
   The bold patterns and bright red, yellow, blue and green colors of bingata are dyed with the aid of a starch.
   This starch can be applied to the cloth through a pattern stencil or by freehand (called tsutsugaki).
   It dates from the 13th century.
   Today, the dying technique of Bingara continues to be made as a traditional art in Okinawa.
   While most of bingata designs are colorful, many of Ko-bingata (the older styles)
   have Chinese auspicious omen motifs painted in subdued colors.


   Japanese resist-dyeing technique whereby fabric is folded, twisted, scrunched,
   or otherwise shaped into place, tied with knots, and then dyed indigo.
   The knots "resist" the dye, resulting in unique patterns that consist of colored and uncolored areas.
   In Japanese, "shibori" means to wring or squeeze.
   Shibori has been used to dye patterns on silk in Japan since the eighth century.

   Shioze is a silk fabric with ribs made of thick weft (horizontal) and thin warp (vertical stich).
   It is widely used for types of obi.
   Because it is easy to fasten and hardly comes loose as well as sets off, Shioze obi is very popular.

   Pine, bamboo and plum blossom
   Popular decorative motifs representing promise and good fortune.

  Shuri Hana-ori
   A textile with floating designs produced in Shuri, Naha City, Okinawa.
   Fabrics were historically woven with Basho (banana fiber) or silk threads and used for summer clothes.

   One of the technique which used the non-twist warp in order to make the pattern three-dimensional.


  Tatsumura Textile
   A textile manufacturer in Kyoto, established in 1894 by Heizo Tatsumura.
   As well as producing fine textile, Tatsumura Textile has researched
   and reproduced ancient cloth fragments.

   The most formal kimono for married women.
   Patterns flow across seams like a single canvas, and appear below the waist only.
   The hem/sleeve lining is the same fabric as the body of the kimono (tomohakkake).

   Tapestry weave
   Tsudure is woven entirely by hand.
   The technique involves using a comb (or sharly filed fingernails) to separate threads, r
   esulting in very intricate designs.

   A simpler, less formal version of a houmongi.
   Motifs point upward (toward the shoulder), and patterns do not flow across seams.
   Tsukesage were created during WWII in response to the ban on houmongi (which were deemed too stylish).

  Tsumami Zaiku
   Tsumami-zaiku or Tsumami is a traditional Japanese craft made from small,
   square-cut pieces of cloth (usually Chirimen) that is pinched and folded with tweezers.
   It originated about 200 years ago during the Edo period.

   Daily/working kimono (equivalent to denim) originally worn by farmers in the Edo era.
   Tsumugi kimono are woven from floss left over in silkworm cocoons
   after full threads have been removed.

   Tsutsugaki literally means 'tube drawing' and is a freehand style resist-dye method.
   An artist draws directly onto cloth by squeezing rice paste from a paper cone called “tsutsu”
   (similar to a cake icing tube).
   It usually has precise Kasuri patterns such as cross and kikko.
   After paste drawing and dyeing the cloth, the pastes are washed off.


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  Woodblock prints
   Original woodblock prints are very valuable, command a high price (thousands of dollars),
   and satisfy the following criteria:

     >>> Printed and published during the artist's lifetime
     >>> Made using the original blocks of wood carved from block sketches based
            on the artist's original drawings

   In general, the prints that we have up for sale are reproductions (not originals)
   from the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century.
   Reproductions are prints made using recarved woodblocks (not the original blocks mentioned above).

   As of April 2015, our woodblock listings generally include the phrase "Hand Printed"
   to better distinguish them from non-woodblock prints.
   Non-woodblock items that are simply drawn or made using other modern printing techniques are labeled
   "Japanese Art and/or Printed".

   Regarding age, prints made during the Edo, Meiji, and Taishō eras are indicated as such.
   Items where the age is not specified were made during the Shōwa era.

   For more information about woodblock prints (originals, reproductions, etc.), please refer to the links below:

     Viewing Japanese Prints -- FAQ: "Original Prints"
     eBay: Is that an original antique Japanese woodblock print?


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  Yomitanzan Hana-ori
   The textile produced in Yomitanson Nakagamigun, Okinawa Prefecture and
   is an Intangible Cultural Property of Japan.
   Yomitanzan Hana-ori is a fabric with raised woven patterns of flowers and geometric shapes.

   2 kinds of techniques are used to produce designs:
   "Tibana Ori", technique to weave in the colored threads only in the design.
   "HiyaiBana Ori," a technique to produce a raised design using heddles.
   Fabrics are mostly silk, cotton, or hemp.
   They are dyed with plants dyes such as fukugi (Garcinia subelliptica), yeddo hawthorn and Ryukyu indigo.

  Yonaguni Hana-ori
   A textile with raised patterns produced in Yonaguni-cho, Yaeyama Gun, Okinawa Prefecture.
   Yonaguni Hana-ori has raised designs of flowers or stars,
   and threads are dyed with plants dyes such as fukugi (Garcinia subelliptica), indigo, and Japanese mallotus.

   There are more than 10 styles of flower/star patterns:
   - “Duchinbana” is the design consists of 4 dots;
   - “Ichichinbana” consists of 5 dots;
   - “Dachinbana” consists of 8 dots.

   Yuzen is a technique used to dye cloth with patterns that dates back to the Genroku era in Kyoto.
   It has a freely patterned design and bright colors.
   Hand painted Yuzen is produced through many steps such as drawing a rough sketch
   with blue ink made of Asiatic dayflower,
   covering sketch lines with paste, dyeing with colors, washing, and so on.


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