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Highlighting JAPAN

January 2015

Japanese Textiles

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PRIME MINISTER'S DIARY
Japan-Palau Summit Meeting
Inauguration of the Third ABE Cabinet
Prime Minister ABE Issues Condolence Messages Following Shooting Incident in Paris, France

COVER STORY
Japanese Textiles

FEATURES

Japanese textiles that gave birth to "Japonisme"
Interview with Nobuyuki Ota, CEO of the Cool Japan Fund

With the backdrop of Japan's traditional kimono culture, a rich textile industry developed around the country. What is behind the appeal of Japanese textiles and where that attraction comes from? We sat down with Nobuyuki Ota, CEO of the Cool Japan Fund, and an expert on fashions both domestic and overseas, having been the president of Issey Miyake and managing director at Tokyo-based department store Matsuya.

Kyoto-style hand embroidery
Cultural handcraft survives changing times

Gauzy clouds float by as two cranes with glossy white feathers do a delighted dance across a rich expanse of silk, each feather rendered in exquisite detail, somehow expressing their joy and grace through silken thread. Painstakingly stitched by hand, this is Kyo-nui, or Kyoto hand embroidery, a beautiful Japanese textile tradition with a long and rich background that stretches back more than a thousand years to the Asuka Period (592-710).

Refinement and Sophistication
Taking Edo Komon global and into the future

Along with Kyoto and Kanazawa, Tokyo is one of Japan's three major traditional kimono-dyeing regions. Shinjuku's Tomita Somekogei has been passing on traditional techniques and is a veteran purveyor of the Tokyo Some Komon style of cloth. Atsushi Tomita, CEO of the company, as well as director for the All-Japan Kimono Promotion Association, explains the fascinations of Tokyo Some Komon.

Capturing the Essence
Updating Japan's Traditions with Today's Sensibilities

Japanese textile brand SOU SOU, based out of Kyoto, has been quietly growing and gaining support among young people. How is this Japanese-styled brand making such inroads when youth in Japan today prefer Western clothing? Takeshi Wakabayashi, producer of SOU SOU, explains that the secret lies in the way the brand "uses textile designs that take Japan's traditional motifs of the four seasons and rearrange them stylishly. These are modern Japanese clothes that update traditions."

Three centuries of modern sense
A brand that revives Japan's traditional textiles

In 2016, Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten will celebrate its three-hundredth anniversary. Originally a wholesale store founded to showcase the high-quality bleached hemp cloth known as narazarashi, made in Nara Prefecture, the business has grown to around forty locations across Japan, and offers a wide array of products. Of the brands it features, the Yu Nakagawa label - brand that focuses on products that embody traditional Japanese artistic sensibilities and under the concept of "Nunonuno of Japan", which presents textile in mixture of materials such as handweaving hemp cloth - has attracted particularly strong support from women in their thirties and beyond.

Paper, Updated
Transforming washi to meet modern needs

Washi is traditional handmade Japanese paper. In November 2014, under the single heading of "washi papermaking," three types of washi - Sekishubanshi from Shimane Prefecture, Hosokawashi from Saitama Prefecture and Honminoshi from Gifu Prefecture - were registered on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Following registration of washoku (Japanese cuisine) in 2013, this is Japan's twenty-second listing on UNESCO'S list. Meanwhile, a host of companies and organizations are developing products that transform washi to meet the needs of today's market.

Fiber Fantastic
Synthetic fibers that surpass the natural

Synthetic fibers are already indispensable in the fashion realm, and the technological might behind Japan's synthetic fibers is receiving exceptionally high marks at home and abroad. Toray Industries was the first Japanese company to exhibit at Milano Unica 2015 Autumn/Winter, Europe's famed textile exhibition, and the chemical company's products attracted massive attention from event participants. Toray has also exhibited at every edition of the Premiere Vision fabric show, held twice a year in Paris, and continues to showcase new textiles that have won raves from the top fashion houses.

Made in Japan
Japanese Textiles: Leading the World with Peerless Excellence

When you think about Japanese textiles drawing attention overseas, people often envision traditional woven cloths used in kimono and other articles. However, Japan is also attracting attention for cutting-edge textiles that use the latest technologies. Why do buyers overseas choose Japanese textiles? Franco Ferraro, the designer behind the eponymous Italian brand Franco Ferraro, describes why he picks Japanese textiles for his pieces.

SERIES

STUDENTS' CORNER
The Magic Tea Kettle

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Natural - Friendly Material
The world's most heat-resistant bioplastic, created by bacteria

HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Bret Mayer, Kanji Master

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47 PREFECTURES: FROM A TO Y
Tokyo

The Calm and the Chaos

47 PREFECTURES: FROM A TO Y
Tottori

Touring Japan's Scenic Sanin Coastline