Named for the region of Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, where it is primarily woven, Hakata is a distinctive thick silk textile, used primarily for obi, but also found on other items where a stiffer textile is necessary, such as handbags, zori, and especially datejime, where it's prized for its stiff texture and ability to hold in place without slipping. Hakata silk is very tightly woven, giving an appearance similar to grosgrain ribbon. When it's being tied, it should have a very distinctive "squeaking" noise as the ridges rub up against each other. This is not a flaw - it is a sign of a good true Hakata weave.
Other common terms for hakata include hon-chikuzen, honchiku, hakata-ori, and kenjo-gara, when referring to the typical geometric design.
Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings
As hakata is generally displayed in the kenjo-gara design, it is considered seasonless. It is always prudent to keep in mind the weight of the fabric - ro hakata can only be used in the summer, fukuro-sewn hakata only in awase seasons, but hakata weave is by default hitoe, and as an exception these can be used nearly year-round.
Hakata obi are available in all standard modern obi sizes - hanhaba, nagoya, and fukuro.
This motif is representative of traditional buddhist tools, as well as framing stripes.
The first set of stripes are known as Oyako Jima, parent and child. The first instance represents the parents protecting the child in early life.
The narrow geometric stripe is known as Kaki or Hanadai, and represents a Buddhist tool, a base for flowers.
The wider geometric stripe down the centre is known as Dokko, which is another Buddhist tool, a scepter-like object.
The last set of stripes are also Oyako Jima, only now they represent the grown children protecting the parents in advanced age.
While black and white is by far the most common colour combination for hakata weave, it is available in a multitude of other variations, several of which represent the five elements in Chinese mythology, or the five virtues of Confucianism.
- Purple - Righteousness
- Green - Benevolence
- Red (also pink) - Propriety
- Yellow - Trust
- Blue - Wisdom
Due to the religious connotations of the standard kenjo-gara formation, hakata can be considered auspicious.
Green-on-white hakata hanhaba
White-on-green cotton blend faux-hakata hanhaba
Unconventional hakata with 53 Stations of the Tokaido motif
White-on-red hakata nagoya
Pink-on-white hakata fukuro
Gold-on-green hakata fukuro
Red stripe hanhaba
Unconventional pink hakata with kikyo
Blue-on-white ro nagoya
Men's navy kaku obi
Leaf-green ro nagoya
Men's kaku obi in deep maroon
Men's kaku obi in navy
Rolls of hakata datejime
Motif in Literature & Other Usage
Hakata was generally considered too casual and too "drab" for the average woman. However, as is their style, Geisha turned something mundane into something profoundly iki. While still technically too casual for most women, Geisha, especially of the Hakata district, are known to wear hakata fukuro obi with even the most formal kurotomesode outfits. There are also many examples of hakata darari obi for maiko.
Relevant Threads / Discussions
Authors & Contributors
Author/s: Diane Quintal (Moonblossom (IG Username))