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A traditional Japanese dyeing technique “Chusen”



2021.02.04 (Thu)

By Charlotte, long-term Tokyo resident & history-loving traveler

Today, I would like to introduce a traditional Japanese dyeing technique called "Chusen". Chusen is a dyeing technique used to dye tenugui (hand towels) and yukata (summer kimonos), which were once widely used in Japanese daily life. Since the dye is poured over several layers of fabric, it is possible to dye, for example, 20 to 30 tenugui at once. This technique, developed in the Meiji era (1868-1912), has dramatically increased the productivity of dyeing.

This is a dyeing technique unique to Japan and is still practiced only in Japan today. The many processes of chusen, such as attaching the glue that is placed on the part of the cloth not to be dyed to the cloth, pouring dye for each color onto the cloth with a watering can called "dohin," washing the cloth with water, drying the cloth, etc., are all done by hand by craftsmen so when completed, no two pieces are the same. The delicate and gentle blurring, blotting, and unique texture that can only be achieved by hand is the most attractive feature of chusen.

If you are interested in chusen, visit Tokyo Honzomekan in Asakusa, where chusen traditional Japanese goods and festival goods are sold. Among the types of chusen, those dyed in the Kanto region are collectively called "Tokyo Honzome." At Tokyo Honzomekan, you can find tenugui dyed with the chusen technique, as well as other traditional Japanese goods and festival goods. The wide variety of colors and patterns will make for a wonderful souvenir of your trip to Japan.

Address: 1F, 2-3-5, Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo
*Please check in advance for business hours and holidays if you want to visit the shop.

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