What is KYO Yuzen? What to Protect and What to Change: The New Challenge of KYO Yuzen Artists

What is KYO Yuzen? What to Protect and What to Change: The New Challenge of KYO Yuzen Artists.
Editor-in-chief
Editor-in-chief

KYO Yuzen is made in Kyoto and has a gorgeous, opulent beauty.

In this issue, we talked to Ms. Manabe, a certified Kyoto craftswoman whose style is based on the beautiful use of colors and worldview, about the appeal of KYO Yuzen.

We will also explain the basics of KYO Yuzen and the work process in detail, so please read on to the end.

Interviewee Profile

Sachi Manabe

She became interested in yuzen when she was a student at the Faculty of Letters, and studied hand-drawn yuzen at the Kyoto City Dyeing Experiment Station.

After graduating from university, she studied under the yuzen artist Kihachiro Yoshida, and began creating her own works.

2009 Selected for “Invitation to Paradise” at the Japan Craft Association Kinki Branch Exhibition

2011 Japan New Craft Newcomer Encouragement Award for men’s stylish kimono “Kemonode”

2018 The 6th Kyo-Mono Youth Competition Second Prize Japan Craft Association

2019 Established a Yuzen dyeing brand “Morphosphere”.

She is exploring the use of Yuzen across cultures and generations so that people can feel familiar with Yuzen.

KYO Yuzen is a world of gorgeous colors.

Kimono by KYO Yuzen

What is KYO Yuzen?
KYO Yuzen is a traditional craft made in Kyoto using the Yuzen technique of creating patterns on dyed kimono.
It was designated as a traditional craft by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1976.

The three major yuzen in Japan are KYO Yuzen, KAGA Yuzen, and TOKYO Yuzen. KYO Yuzen, born in Kyoto in the Genroku period (1688-1704), is the oldest traditional craft among the three major yuzen.

Itome glue is used to prevent dyeing, so that adjacent colors do not mix.

Many colors are used, and embroidery and gold and silver stays are applied, making it popular for its vivid colors and gorgeous, glittering kimonos.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

What is the difference between KYO Yuzen and KAGA Yuzen?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

There are many differences, the most typical of which is the difference in color. KAGA Yuzen is characterized by the use of glutinous rice glue, and recently many KYO Yuzen artists also use glutinous rice.

There is also a big difference between KYO Yuzen with and without gilding! My master’s style was a mixture of KYO Yuzen and KAGA Yuzen, so while he had vermilion color and big flowers, which are characteristic of KYO Yuzen, he didn’t have gilding.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Indeed, KYO Yuzen is gorgeous and opulent, while KAGA Yuzen is chic and calm.

You can also read more about KYO Yuzen in this article.

KAGA Yuzen

A traditional craft made mainly in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.

It has a chic color palette based on the Kaga Gosai (five colors of Kaga): indigo, swallow fat, ochre, grass, and ancient purple.

This article provides a detailed explanation of KAGA Yuzen.

There are two kinds of KYO Yuzen!

Accessories of KYO Yuzen

KYO Yuzen can be roughly divided into two categories: Hand-painted Yuzen and Kata (Patterned) Yuzen.

 

Hand-painted Yuzen…Each pattern is colored by hand using a brush or brush.
Kata (Patterned) Yuzen: Made using a paper pattern, mass production is possible.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Ms. Manabe, you use Hand-painted Yuzen. You also arrange not only kimonos but also accessories and other small items, don’t you?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Yes. The accessories are made to express the beauty of colors, and I am just particular about the colors.

I make them in a wide range of color patterns, so you can wear a different color for each season.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Are there any other products other than kimonos that you would like to try?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

I also make card cases. I would also like to make other works that can be used as interior decorations, such as interior panels.

Brooch by KYO Yuzen
KYO Yuzen’s brooch makes your heart dance with a little specialness.

Brooch by KYO Yuzen

The tint series of brooches are made by dyeing and embroidery, making the most of the vivid colors that only KYO Yuzen can produce, and they are eye-catching and gorgeous. It is light and comfortable to wear and is recommended for daily use.

Just by wearing this brooch, you can make your usual clothes feel a little more special. You can wear it on your hat, bag, etc. and arrange it to your liking.

Morphoshere
[Brooch]tint (Hydrangea) B | Kyoto Yuzen Dyeing

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Card case by KYO Yuzen
Dainty and elegant KYO Yuzen card case

Card case by KYO Yuzen

This card case is made from kimono fabric and has a great sense of style; it is folded in half and has two pockets for plenty of storage and is very practical.

With its calm color and texture, it creates an elegant and mature appeal. You can show off your good taste by carrying it at parties and other occasions where you will be seen by many people.

Morphoshere
[Card Case]Silk Obi E | Kyoto Yuzen Dyeing

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KYO Yuzen is a job with many processes and requires patience.

Colorful Dyeing Fees

The process of Hand-painted Yuzen and Kata Yuzen is as follows.

Hand-painted Yuzen

Drafting: Drawing a design picture.

Draw a rough sketch: Make the fabric into the shape of the finished product, and draw a rough sketch after the temporary sewing.

Itome-gluing: Untie the temporary stitching and apply glue along the draft. (This glue acts as an anti-dyeing agent, so it does not mix with neighboring colors.

Grounding: Apply bean paste to the fabric. (This glue serves to prevent smearing and to fix the dye.

Insertion: Dye is inserted into the kimono by hand using a brush.

Steaming: Steaming in a high-temperature steamer for about one hour. Steaming: Steaming in a high-temperature steamer for about an hour (to fix the dye to the fabric).

Fuse glue: Apply glue to the pattern. (To prevent the dyed area from being dyed.)

Ground dyeing: Dyeing the ground color with a large brush. (This work requires experience and skill.)

Steaming: Steaming again in a steamer box.

Mizumoto: Wash off the glue and unnecessary dye with water.

Hot water treatment: Adjust the width of the fabric and remove wrinkles.

Decoration: Decorate the surface with gold or silver leaf, gold or silver thread.

 

Kata-Yuzen

Drawing: Drawing a design.

Making the mold: Carve the mold. (One mold is needed for each color, so make as many molds as there are colors to be used.

Ji Hari: Paste white fabric on a piece of wood with glue.

Kata-Oki: Place the mold on the fabric, put colored glue on it, and dye it. (If there are a lot of colors or patterns, the mold placement is repeated many times.

Glue down: Glue is placed on the dyed area of the mold. (To prevent dyeing)

Pull-dyeing: The ground color is dyed with a brush on the unglue-dyed area.

Steaming: Apply high temperature steam. (To fix the dyed color)

Mizumoto: Wash off with water so that the fallen dye does not adhere to the fabric.

Finishing process: Decorate the surface with gold or silver leaf, gold or silver thread. Correction of unevenness in dyeing.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Both Hand-painted Yuzen and Kata Yuzen have many work processes and are very difficult.In Kyoto, there seems to be a lot of division of labor, but do you also divide your labor?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

In my case, I ask a contractor to do the steaming after dyeing, but other than that, I often do everything by myself.

Usually, I ask a specialized company to do the pressing, steaming, and mizumoto of the fabric. Experienced craftsmen who have been doing one process for decades have very high skills, so I use different ones depending on the product I want to make.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

It’s being made by many different people. It seems to take a lot of time.

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Yes, KYO Yuzen takes a long time. In my case, it takes at least three months. I do counseling and work with the customer to determine the best way to make the product.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Counseling?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Yes! I believe that I can express the right atmosphere for the customer by creating the product with the customer’s face in mind.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

You have put a lot of thought into your customers. Are there any other hard work involved?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Dyeing to match the sewing opening and applying patterns based on the distortion of the sewing process are also hard work.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

It’s a job that requires a lot of patience.

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Yes, it is. Also, I have to intersperse the drying time, so it’s hard to concentrate on that day.

In my case, since I work alone, speed is also required.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Yes, it is. Also, I have to intersperse the drying time, so it’s hard to concentrate on that day.

In my case, since I work alone, speed is also required.

The Morphosphere, the beauty of it all

KYO Yuzen accessories and illustration of a woman

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Mr. Manabe, you have a brand called Morphosphere, don’t you?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Yes, within Morphosphere, I deal in accessories, card cases, and various other items.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

The word “Morphosphere” is unfamiliar to me, is it a coined word?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Yes, Morphosphere is a combination of the words Morpho (morpho butterfly) and sphere.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

What is the meaning behind Morphosphere?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

First of all, Morpho is the Morpho butterfly, a beautiful blue butterfly.

There is a word for something beautiful, ‘Metamorphose,’ and the Morpho butterfly is said to be the origin of the word Metamorphose. The Morpho butterfly is such a beautiful butterfly.

The word “sphere” also means “star” or “moon” in English. In other words, it means all things beautiful.

Morphosphere, a combination of these beautiful words, means a project that encompasses all things beautiful.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

It’s kind of nice. It fits perfectly with Ms. Manabe’s brand of beautiful creations!

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

I believe that I have a mission to make beautiful things.

Morphosphere is a kind of statement of purpose for me.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

A statement?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

It represents my belief that I will spend the rest of my life making beautiful things.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

It’s also a sign of determination! Beautiful things, you say, but how do you find inspiration for your work?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

My inspiration comes from books, paintings, haute couture dresses, movies, novels, and music. Especially with music, I imagine it as if I were writing illustrations.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

That’s amazing! What kind of work do you have in mind for Morphosphere in the future?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

As an artist, I would like to face myself and create products that can express myself and become a symbol.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

I’m looking forward to the future of Morphosphere!

Attracted by the Appeal of Color, I Entered the World of Yuzen

Manabe and KYO Yuzen

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

What made you want to enter the world of Yuzen?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

I first entered the world of Yuzen when I was 19 years old. The first thing I did was to take a basic course at the Kyoto Dyeing Examination Center. At the time, the course was not open to everyone, so I pretended to be working part-time at the studio of a tie-dye artist friend of mine.

At first, I just thought, “Yuzen is beautiful”.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

When I hear the word “Dyeing,” I have a strong image of kimonos. Did you always like kimonos?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

In my case, I didn’t start because I liked kimonos. The correct answer is that I was attracted to it as a technique. I like painting, and I thought “Yuzen is wonderful because of its special freedom of color and beauty” as one of the techniques of expression for oil painting and watercolor painting. As I continued, I wanted to be involved in it in earnest, and after graduating from university, I apprenticed myself to a master.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

While your classmates were going on to higher education or finding jobs, your decision to pursue a career in traditional Japanese crafts was quite a courageous move.

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

I didn’t think about anything else, I just went ahead with my passion. However, to be honest, there were times when I thought that I might have narrowed my path.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

When did you do that?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Specifically, when I quit my master’s workshop. Other times, I wondered whether or not I would be able to continue doing this. Many things happen in the world, such as the Lehman Shock and Corona, and each time I think about my future.

Dyeing requires a large work space, so it costs a lot to maintain the place. It’s hard to change course to a different type of work, so I had a lot to worry about.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

You have become the person you are today through your various struggles. Isn’t that also the reason why you are able to create your works? You are also taking on challenges that would be unthinkable in the world of Yuzen, such as creating ceramic (tile) products.

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

I am challenging myself in many ways with different designs and methods of expression. For the tiles, I provide the design and the Mino Ware potter manufactures them. They are full of particulars, including a special method to get those beautiful colors!

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Will you take on the challenge of developing new products in the future?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Will you take on the challenge of developing new products in the future?

I would like to make a butterfly kimono in the future. I have a lot of ideas that I have not been able to create yet, so I would like to make them a reality.

Ceramic tiles by KYO Yuzen
Ceramic tiles by KYO Yuzen that can be used freely

Ceramic tiles by KYO Yuzen

This ceramic tile fully expresses the beauty of KYO Yuzen. The design is a kimono kemonode, an arrangement of auspicious and auspicious patterns. They are handmade by craftsmen in Tajimi, giving them a special feel.

Since the pattern is also on the side of the tile, it is recommended to use it as a tableware like a small plate. The vivid colors will make your dining table all the more colorful. Of course, it is also perfect for displaying as interior decoration, so please find your own way to use it.

Morphoshere
[Art Panel, Dish] Kemonode Ceramic Tile NO.2 | Kyoto Yuzen Dyeing

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Protecting the Unconventional KYO Yuzen

Tile designed by KYO Yuzen

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Are your works made in a traditional way?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Not completely, but it is orthodox.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

What is your passion for KYO Yuzen?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

As is typical of KYO Yuzen, I have added gold paint to enhance the pattern without disturbing it.

Also, I try not to get stuck in a rut by thinking about the colors as I paint.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Do you think about it while painting?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Do you think about it while painting?

Yes, I do. I don’t make a lot of the same products, so it’s important for me to keep things unconventional. I feel that if it becomes routine, it won’t touch the heart.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

So you make your products while thinking about your customers, in order to create products that resonate with them?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Yes! By thinking about the customer, I can bring out new charms and create a wonderful atmosphere.

It is also important for me to create a storyline in my work.

I would like to keep the tradition of KYO Yuzen and explore my own unique style.

Tile and Accessories

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Are there any new changes you are making to the KYO Yuzen technique?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Are there any new changes you are making to the KYO Yuzen technique?

I use wax to do the fuse-gluing necessary to prevent the dyeing of the pattern, because it saves the process and speeds up the process. I incorporate new things as needed.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

Are you thinking of becoming a certified traditional craftsman?

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

Yes, I am. I still have to figure out how to bring my own style into it, but I would like to think about it.

Editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief

You’re taking on new challenges while preserving KYO Yuzen as a traditional craft! Lastly, please tell us about your future direction.

Sachi Manabe

Sachi Manabe

I would like to express my own unique colors and deepen the world of Yuzen.

I also want to keep animal motifs like Kemonode, but on the other hand, I’m interested in creating a steampunk world view.

I will also try to create works with a fantastic feminine worldview using the motif of butterflies, which is the origin of Morphosphere!

Summary

For this interview, we talked to Ms. Manabe, a KYO Yuzen artist.

In the traditional world of KYO Yuzen, Ms. Manabe strives to create works with colors that only she can express.

We look forward to seeing more of her work in the future!

Related articles:

▶ What is “Kyo Karakami”? Beautiful patterns created by woodblocks passed down for over 100 years

▶ A Guide to the Traditional Japanese Craft: Kyo-Sensu Fans

▶ The Complete Guide to Traditional Japanese Crafts

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*These products may not be able to be shipped to certain countries. Please see the retailer’s website for more information.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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