Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Enjoy Fukuoka's Traditional Weaving Crafts at Hakata-ori Kougeikan!
Hakata-ori is a traditional weaving craft that Fukuoka prefecture takes pride in. This article features the Hakata-ori Kougeikan, a facility where you can learn more about Hakata textiles, try your hand at weaving and purchase original items.
Written by miki fukumuro
When people think of of Fukuoka, many will probably think of Hakata ramen, mentaiko, motsu nabe offal stew and other tasty delicacies. However, Fukuoka has not only delicious food, but it also boasts traditional crafts such as the Hakata ori (Hakata weaving) which is approximately 770 years old (*1). So, what is Hakata weaving? Let us introduce you to the world of Hakata-ori Kougeikan (Hakata Textile Factory Museum), a wonderful facility where you can see, feel, enjoy and purchase products made by Hakata-ori. *1 Hakata-ori: A traditional craft of Fukuoka. The word may also refer to the product itself - a thick, sturdy cloth made of silk produced and woven in the Hakata area of Fukuoka.
Sanui Weaving - From Design and Weaving to the Final Product
Hakata-ori Kougeikan is a facility operated by Sanui Co., Ltd. that makes the Hakata weaving products. Sanui Weaving takes care of every step, from designing and weaving the products to their processing.
In the museum, you will find documents about the history of Hakata weaving on display. The kimono in the foreground is from the Edo period. It is thought to have been an official offering (kenjo, *2) made to the government during the Edo period. Here, you will be able to see patterns used during those times, wedding dresses made as a collaborative work with Hakata weaving, and many other beautiful displays. *2 kenjo: Offerings given to officials and nobles in authority.
This is a tebata, a hand loom from around 180 years ago, which was used to make Hakata-ori textiles. It can still be used today. On a more newer hand loom, you would be able to experience hand weaving yourself.
The Rhythmic Sounds Of The Looms During The Factory Tour
Next, we will go to the factory area next to the craft museum. As soon as you enter the factory, you will hear the sounds of the looms throughout the area. According to the CEO, Mr. Sanui, the distinctive rhythmic sounds of the loom becomes quite an addiction to the enthusiasts.
The distinctive trait of Hakata-ori fabrics is their use of thin strings vertically, and thicker strings horizontally. The vertical strings are used to allow a detailed design to be woven in like the one in the photo above.
There is even a Hakata-ori fabric made in collaboration with the Hakata specialty "Niwaka senbei" rice crackers. Many of the designs have such distinctive features that they are hard to forget. When the textile products are done, they cut the rolls of fabric into smaller pieces.
In the very end, the craftsmen check the fabric carefully with their own eyes.
Find A Hakata Fabric To Your Liking
Let's return to the museum and visit the area where many merchandise products made with Hakata textiles can be found on sale. Formally, Hakata-ori textiles were used for kimonos and obi sashes mainly, but now you can find small items you can use on a daily basis such as wallets, business card holders, hair accessories, pen cases, coin purses and many other fashionable items.
This is the "Niwaka" series that we saw also in the factory. It's such a popular item that the production cannot keep up! There is a coin purse (1,080 yen), train pass case (1,296 yen), and a pouch (3,456 yen).
The sensu folding fan set (7,560 yen) that comes in eleven colors was sold as a souvenir during the G7 Ise Shima Summit that was held in May of 2016. This set can actually be purchased in Hakata Station and the Hakata Traditional Crafts Museum as well. For more details, please check their official site (Japanese). Read also: 5 Great Ways To Experience Japan’s Culture, Fukuoka-style!
Sanui Fabrics continues to make new types of textiles through Hakata weaving techniques that can be used on a daily basis. "Please look, feel and enjoy Hakata-ori fabrics!", told us the head of the facility. It would be a waste not to know the wonderful features of Hakata weaving, just because it is thought to be old-fashioned or expensive. While keeping the tradition, Sanui Fabrics continues to put new products on display at the Hakata-ori Kougeikan. Look, feel and find a Hakata-ori product of your liking and try using it to see how special they are!