Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Make Original Goods: Yūzen Dyeing Workshop Marumasu Nishimuraya
Written by Yuki Imagawa
In this article, we will introduce a fun workshop where you can experience the traditional Yūzen dying method in central Kyoto.
Kyō Yūzen-zome (京友禅染) is a traditional kimono dyeing method as well as the term for kimonos and products made with fabric dyed using the Kyō Yūzen method.
The vivid colors and the detailed designs are traits of the Yūzen dye. It is very popular among tourists from abroad and within Japan. Did you know there is a place in Kyotowhere you can experience making your own Yūzen dye product?
Let us introduce you a workshop where you can try the Yūzen dye yourself in the heart of Kyoto.
A Workshop in a Traditional Kyoto-style House, Marumasu Nishimuraya
A ten minute walk from the Nijōjōmae Station, you will find a Kyōmachiya-style (*1) house. This is where the "Marumasu Nishimuraya" workshop for Kyo Yūzen dyeing is held.
*1: Kyōmachiya (京町家) are a type of traditional houses found in Kyoto.
Your workshop will be held in this studio.
First, your instructor will introduce you to the world of Kyō Yūzen. There are several methods of placing patterns on the fabric. Here, we will be trying the dyeing method using a brush called the "Surikomi Yūzen", which literally means to rub in.
Let's give it a try.
Step 1. Choose What You Want to Make!
After getting a brief explanation, select what you want to make from the tote bags, pencil cases, tapestries, fans, and many more items to choose from. Tote bags and tapestries are the more popular ones among visitors from overseas. This time, I decided to dye a tote bag.
Step 2. Think of a Design!
Next, you will pick a design, such as flowers or words you want to print on. Pick a favorite from the many stencils they have on site.
You can mix and match stencils of your choice to make your original design. According to a worker, they add new stencils daily and there are about over 1,000 designs available. From plants, animals, Kyoto-themed patterns, and Japanese characters, all designs are categorized in folders. The covers of the folders are labeled in Japanese and English, so people who cannot read Japanese can also find the stencil of their choice easily.
Step 3. Let's Try Yūzen Dyeing!
After returning to your seat with the stencil of your choice, your instructor will show you how it's done. In this shop, exchange students from Taiwan and Korea work here, so helpful translations may be available in your language.
An instruction manual is also available in Japanese, English and Chinese as well. According to the gentleman working at the shop, even if there is a language barrier, through gestures and mimicking the instructor will get the message across.
Let's begin! Set the stencil on the tote bag and dip your brush into the ink. From the top of the stencil, rotate your brush in a circular motion to rub the ink into the fabric.
As I was working, an elderly man of the shop advised me to move my brush more so the ink seeps in. Helpful assistants are around for even beginners like me.
After two hours of working, I finally finished. The duration will vary according to what you will making and the pattern you choose. But, it averages out to an hour or two at most.
How about trying a traditional crafting session with Kyō Yūzen dyeing in your next trip to Kyoto?
Address: Oike Minami Iru, Ogawa Dōri, Nakagyō Ward, KyotoCity, Kyoto
Closed: Beginning of the year (January 1 - 3)
Credit cards: -
Other Languages: English, Korean, Chinese
Menus in Other Languages: English and Chinese
Nearest Station: Nijōjōmae Station (二条城前駅) on the Tōzai Subway Line
Access: 5 minute walk to the south east from exit 2.
Price Range: From 1,300 yen
Religious Considerations: -
Phone Number: 075-211-3273 (Accepts calls from 9:00-18:00)
Homepage: Marumasu Nishimuraya