Formerly Souto, Southwest Tokyo’s Hachioji dates back to the Heian period, and it flourished in the silkworm breeding and reeling industries. Here the silk fabric Tama-ori came into existence. Tama-ori stretches back in history over 400 years, realizing a diversification through a development process that generated 5 types of products with different production methods: omeshi-ori, tsumugi-ori, futsuori, kawaritsuzure-ori, and mojiri-ori. These weaving traditions are still practiced today after being passed down through generations. Tama-ori’s soft hand-made texture and patterns in raw silk take their color from vegetable dyes. Exquisite patterns of Tama-ori require skill to weave.
One particular pattern, zurashi-kasuri, brings together 1,200 threads and is so difficult that only a craftsman with a high degree of technique can weave it. While weaving zurashi-kasuri, the craftsman must use both arms and both legs to operate the loom, adeptly manipulating each step to form the warm patterns from an image that exists in their heads. This cloth is rare and expensive, but recently craftsmen have taken to making more simple items such as neckties, hats, and stoles.
It’s interesting to see Edo period charm adopted to modern Tokyo fashions.