If you have spent time in Japan then summer will conjure images of fireflies, shaved ice, dragon boat racing, festivals, fireworks and most of all, yukata. Yukata are the lightweight kimono used during the humid summer months and although typically now they will just be worn for special occasions by adults, small children will often be seen in yukata especially at festivals.
Yukata were originally worn after bathing or soaking in a public bathhouse in lieu of towels. The fabrics tend to be brighter and indigo is once again one of the most popular colors. Indigo is an easy to work with natural dye which can be seen on so many of our favorite Japanese fabrics. It is applied to the yukata through a resistance rice paste and paper stencils. A design is cut out of paper on a slightly larger than bolt sized stencil. The rice paste is then applied to the white cotton bolt then set into the indigo dye vat. The end product is a beautiful blue fabric with white figural or abstract pattern - or the most charming of the summer patterns - fireworks!
Another fascinating aspect of the yukata and all kimono is the way in which the fabric is cut out. All kimonos are cut into the letter T, sewn in panels. Were a panel to become stained or damaged beyond repair, it can be easily pulled off and replaced rather than replacing the entire garment. The idea of mottanai - an expression that shows regret in regards to waste or being wasteful - is built right into each garment! How can we see and know and not be inspired!
A beautiful example of mottanai. Swoon.
Kasuri is Japan's ikat pattern - a resist dyeing technique that can be seen in so many beautiful textiles from around the world. When you see the blurry edges you will know you are looking at ikat. At first, most kauri patterns were small geometric patterns called igeta - small dots, squares, dashes, crosses, etc. They were often times made with indigo dye and some eventually added red and a few small splashes of color. I do remember on one fabric shopping trip, in particular, finding several small bits of green - green I say! - kasuri and being really impressed. Later on, patterns moved beyond dashes and dots and were developed and designated to different household goods.
These antique kasuri beauties, made with skill and love from the dyeing with natural indigo to the hand spinning and weaving are becoming increasingly difficult to find making every scrap a treasure and every Cultural Detour remake a one of a kind piece of wearable, storied art.
This is a great website to check out: https://www.kimonoboy.com