Kumihimo have still carried on the techniques and forms as traditional braids.


Kumihimo crafted by Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo
Head office of Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo

 

 
  Many traditional crafts have rooted and developed in Taito City that was a birthplace of Edo cultures. Kumihimo, which is one of the traditional crafts, has carried on the tradition to this day. Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo (Domyo Co., Ltd.), established in 1652, is a Kumihimo studio that truly represents Edo cultures. It can be said that techniques of Kumihimo, which meet needs of times, are one of the Japanese arts of fine crafts.
  Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo has taken over and revived ancient Kumihimo as well as producing new Kumihimo works. They have also held "Domyo Koshiki Itogumi-ho Kyojo," or Kumihimo class of Domyo, and strive to hand down the traditional techniques and train Kumihimo braiders. (2-11-1 Ueno, Taito City)
 
 

Reproduced "Bansui Shoku," a hanging ornament, of Horyuji Temple, which is made with Karakumi (from Yusoku Domyo's Website)

  "Kumihimo," or braided cord, was brought to Japan as ornament cords of Buddhist altar fittings when Buddhism was introduced into Japan around the fifth century, and then has independently developed as Japanese traditional craftworks. It was used for Buddhist altar fittings and ceremonial dresses in the Nara Period and samurai's armors and swords in the Kamakura Period. Along with a knowledge of the tea ceremony, its forms and techniques gained additional depth in the Azuchi Momoyama Period. Later, it was found useful for the tea ceremony that spread to the commoner class in the mid Edo Period, sash bands for women, Japanese half-coat cords, and pouches such as a cloth pouch. Along with those cultural developments, Kumihimo has been used as a symbol that represents stylishness and sophistication.
 

 
  Kumihimo is braided with twisted silk threads. Although many of Kumihimo is braided by hand on braiding stands, such as Kakudai, Marudai, Takadai and Ayatakedai, there are also original techniques for braiding Kumihimo, such as "Kuteuchi," with which it is braided by using fingers. In Shoso-in and Horyuji Temple, "Naragumi," "Sasanamigumi," "Karakumi," and "Andagumi," which are said to be made in the Nara Period, are preserved. It takes about two days to make a sash band, and three to five days for an intricately braided one. There are some traditional pieces of Kumihimo that take one week to several months to reproduce. (Picture of Sasanamigumi)
 

Kumihimo being braided on Marudai. A total of 900 silk threads are used in 52 silk balls, each of which are made with 18 silk threads. For Karakumi, consecutive flat diamond shapes are braided even on Marudai.

Threads are circularly arranged and braided on Marudai.


Kumihimo being braided on Takadai. Except those that differ in width, such as a necktie, Kumihimo with the same width can be braided because, generally, the braiding method and the number of threads does not need to be changed. 1.6 times as much material as completed Kumihimo is needed, and the length of color bands becomes about 60% when it is completed. Although Takadai appeared in the Edo Period, how it was used in the Kamakura Period is not clear because there are few documents.

A procedure manual of braiding methods using Takadai, which is called Ayagaki


 
  There are various traditional patterns for Kumihimo, including "Kikkogumi," "Kamakuragumi," composite braiding method called "Itsukushimagumi" that was dedicated to Itsukushima Shrine and used for "Heike Nokyo" sutra scroll, "Karakumi," "Kanmurikumi," "Naragumi," "Mitakekumi" and "Koraikumi." There are also about 20 major braiding methods. It is considered that there are hundreds of braiding methods if their offshoots and methods derived from the major ones are included. For the most complex "Ryomen Kikkogumi," 144 silk balls are needed, which is three times as many as the standard Kumihimo. (Kikkogumi is shown on the left side in the picture, and Kamakuragumi on the right front)

 

Head office of Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo
 

 
  Many traditional crafts have rooted and developed in Taito City that was a birthplace of Edo cultures. Kumihimo, which is one of the traditional crafts, has carried on the tradition to this day. Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo (Domyo Co., Ltd.), established in 1652, is a Kumihimo studio that truly represents Edo cultures. It can be said that techniques of Kumihimo, which meet needs of times, are one of the Japanese arts of fine crafts.
  Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo has taken over and revived ancient Kumihimo as well as producing new Kumihimo works. They have also held "Domyo Koshiki Itogumi-ho Kyojo," or Kumihimo class of Domyo, and strive to hand down the traditional techniques and train Kumihimo braiders. (2-11-1 Ueno, Taito City)
 
 

Reproduced "Bansui Shoku," a hanging ornament, of Horyuji Temple, which is made with Karakumi (from Yusoku Domyo's Website)