Elm-Yukara ori: woven woollen fabric of Hokkaido



Elm-Yukara ori is an entirely hand crafted textile of Hokkaido that is typically used for items such as kimonos, obi sashes, haori coats, bags, rugs and cushions. The main material is locally made wool that is hand dyed, spun into threads and woven on a loom using the ‘tsumugi’ technique. It is a light, warm fabric with designs that are inspired by the picturesque scenes of nature in Hokkaido, a northern island of Japan, and the patterns of traditional folklore. Up to two or three hundred colors may be combined in any one work, creating a textile that resembles an oil painting.

Although ‘Yukara’ is an Ainu word meaning lore, legend or epic poem, the textile is a relatively recent product of Hokkaido and is not a traditional Ainu fabric. (Ainu is the language used by indigenous people of Hokkaido.) Yukara-ori was created by textile artist Aya Kiuchi from Asahikawa City, Hokkaido during the 1950s; in 1962 she established a full scale manufacturing house. Kiuchi chose the word ‘yukara’ in the hope that the craft would endure and be passed on to future generations. Her work has been widely acclaimed both nationally and internationally. In 1977 she received the highest award at the Japan Folk Crafts Public Exhibition, and in 1978 she was awarded first place at the Hungarian International Textile Biennale.

This small coin purse with two compartments is a fine example of elm-yukara woven wool.  It was found at a temple market in Osaka.


ERUMU-YUKARA (ELM-YUKAR) ORI | Dyeing and Weaving. (2018). Kimono.or.jp. Retrieved 7 January 2018, from http://www.kimono.or.jp/dictionary/eng/erumu_yu-karaori.html

Yukara-Ori Textile | Authentic Japanese product. (2018). Japan-brand.jnto.go.jp. Retrieved 7 January 2018, from http://japan-brand.jnto.go.jp/crafts/textiles/2760/

和の用語の全てを集約した総合着物辞書きもの用語大全. (2018). So-bien.com. Retrieved 7 January 2018, from http://www.so-bien.com/kimono/


Please visit my Etsy store to see my collection of vintage and antique Japanese treasures.

Gujo ori, a traditional Japanese folk art

This small coin purse is made from a hand woven silk fabric called Gujo ori, a traditional Japanese folk art.

Gujo, in current Gifu prefecture, was influenced and enriched by interaction and exchange with the capital even during the Nara era, and developed its own unique folk art and culture.

Gujo tsumugi ori is one well known example of its folk arts. Using silk floss extracted from the double cocoons of spring silkworms, fibers are spun by hand to create tsumugi yarn. It is then hand dyed with organic materials such as herb roots and tree bark, and finally woven by hand.

Designs are mostly stripes, crossed stripes, splash patterns (Kasuri) and some geometrical patterns. It has qualities of both silk and wool: strong, warm and free from wrinkles.

In 1947 the Gujo Weaving Institute was founded by Rikizo Munehiro in an effort to preserve the traditional craft. In 1982 he was awarded the title of Living National Treasure.

This purse is available for sale in my Etsy shop




GUJO TSUMUGI | Dyeing and Weaving. (2017). Kimono.or.jp. Retrieved 17 September 2017, from http://www.kimono.or.jp/dictionary/eng/gujotsumugi.html

Weaving and Dyeing. (2017). Gujohachiman.com. Retrieved 17 September 2017, from http://www.gujohachiman.com/kanko/weaving_e.html


Handkerchiefs, magical Japanese iris designs

Handkerchief, Kamo Nurseries, Japanese iris ‘dewanominazuki’,
Handkerchief, Kamo Nurseries, Japanese iris old variety 'jitsugetsu'
Handkerchief, Kamo Nurseries, Japanese iris ‘jitsugetsu’

I bought these two delightful cotton handkerchiefs at a market ages ago and had forgotten all about them until I started on my New Year’s house cleaning.
They are made from super soft, very fine Japanese cotton and depict two old varieties of Japanese iris, ‘dewanominazuki’ and ‘jitsugetsu’.  Continue reading Handkerchiefs, magical Japanese iris designs