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Nishijin

Kanji, Kana & Pronunciation
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Romaji Nishijin (ori)
Kanji 西陣 (織)
Kana にしじん (おり)
Audio Coming Soon
(n) western district of Kyoto famous for its textile mills; the brocade produced in Nishijin


Nishijin is a high class woven brocade produced in the Nishijin district of Kyoto. Today it is mainly used for formal obi although there are workshops still producing historical patterns for Noh theater and the Imperial court.

Characteristics

History

Western Kyoto was established as a center of textile production in 794 (after the capital was moved to Kyoto) although it was not known as Nishijin at the time. Initially, production took place under the auspices of the Oribe no Tsukasa, a government run textile bureau, but by the middle of the Heian Period independent workshops had overtaken the state run operations in production and popularity. New techniques were imported from Sung Dynasty China, allowing more complex brocades to be woven.

In 1467, large parts of Kyoto were burned during the Onin War, including the textile district. Many weavers fled to Sakai in Osaka where they came into contact with textiles from Ming Dynasty China. When peace was established in 1477, many weavers elected to return to Kyoto bringing back the new techniques and designs including kinran and donsu. The 1480s were a time of great growth as the textile district was rapidly rebuilt and for the first time referred to by the name of Nishijin.

By the early Edo period, over 7,000 looms were in operation in the Nishijin district. In the late Edo period a series of crop failures caused a famine leading to a sharp decline in demand for luxury textiles. The moving of the capital to Tokyo in 1869, threatened the industry still further. Banding together, the weavers formed the Nishijin Textile Company with money from the government and sent observers to France to bring back European loom technology. The introduction of jacquard looms successfully revitalized the faltering Nishijin textile industry. In the 1890s, Nishijin experienced a second renaissance.

Examples

Formality & TPO

TPO - Within Japan

Occasion Acceptable
Hotel Wedding Reception
Restaurant Wedding Reception
Formal Party
Casual Party
Dinner
Lunch
Tea Gathering
Graduation Ceremony
Practice
Theatre, Concert
Exhibition
Travel
Yes - Acceptable to wear.
OK - OK to wear if no suitable alternatives.
No - Unacceptable to wear.


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