What is Kumihimo?
Kumihimo is a cord used as a kimono sashcloth in modern times. In the past, they were not used as obi belts for kimonos, but as ornaments. It has its roots in the time when it was used as a headdress for lords and princesses, and as various other accessories.
Definition of Kumihimo
A kumihimo is defined as a braided cord made by a kumihimo maker using a braiding method of more than three braids. As for the length, those mainly used for kimonos are usually 150cm long. When it is used as a decorative cord, such as for yukata, it is 1 meter 30 centimeters. The length of each type of cord is characterized according to the type of cord.
What makes Iga-gumi-himo different from ordinary strings is that it is made in various ways to express various kinds of braids. Iga kumihimo is characterized by brightly colored braids woven with a variety of colors.
Uses of Kumihimo
It is said to have originated in the Warring States period when it was used as a cord to wrap around weapons such as swords. Later, it came to be commonly used for kimonos.
Today, the 100% major use of kumihimo is as an obi cord wrapped around the obi of a kimono, but the origin of kumihimo is that it started as a form of kimono accessory. However, the roots of Kumihimo started as a Japanese costume accessory. Going back to that origin, today we are trying to make Kumihimo more attractive as a small accessory and use it in various scenes.
Features of Kumihimo
Strong and hard to break. The quality of kumihimo is that it is almost unbreakable unless it is subjected to too much load. Sturdiness is a characteristic of kumihimo.
It is characterized by its sturdiness, and the various well-thought-out color schemes of each kumihimo shop are mixed into it, making it a piece of art.
Advantages of using kumihimo
The advantage of using kumihimo is that it is a cord that is wrapped around the obi, but without kumihimo, the kimono would not be complete. It is the power behind the scenes that firmly supports the part that does not close. The interesting thing about kumihimo is that by wrapping a stylish kumihimo around the kimono instead of wrapping a normal cord, the expensive kimono becomes even more expensive and luxurious by the effect of the kumihimo.
The roots of Kumihimo
The roots of kumihimo can be traced back to the Nara period (710-794), when it was first woven by machine. Before that, a mere piece of string was useless as a cord, because it was only about the thickness of a hair when worn on a kimono. But how did the ancient people do this? They started by braiding many strings as thick as a hair, and they used the principle of “ayatori” to weave such strings. The origins of kumihimo came from the fact that people put many strings on their fingers and braided them together like a game of cat’s-paw.
The charm of Kumihimo is its overwhelming creative power.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the difference between Kumihimo and other strings is one word: artistry.
To put it in an extreme way, strings like ropes sold at home centers can also be woven with a kumihimo machine, but kumihimo is not just a rope, but various braids are developed and braided with advanced techniques to create a wide variety of beautiful colors, making it a piece of art.
The charm of Kumihimo
The beautifully dyed silk yarns, strands by strands, mingle with each other and create a unique texture and taste of braiding. Iga kumihimo is characterized by the beauty of the colorfully dyed silk threads, which shine in the light and intertwine with each other.
However, the number of new adults has been decreasing due to the recent decline in the number of kimonos and the declining birth rate. In addition, the kumihimo industry is in a very difficult situation because of the Corona disaster and the cancellation of sales events. In the midst of such a severe situation, we started to sell kumihimo masks, which we had been developing as accessories for kimono.
Instead of wearing non-woven cloth masks when wearing kimono, masks with a Japanese spirit made of kumihimo are spreading in the world of kimono.
What Kumihimo can do
In the Nara period (710-794), kumihimo was widely used as formal wear for men and women, such as a braided obi (sash). In the Kamakura period (1185-1333), it was used as part of armor, and in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1603), it was used as decorative strings for tea utensils. In the Edo period (1603-1868), it was used to decorate armor and swords, and was considered one of the items that showed the aesthetic sense of warriors.
This flexibility to adapt to the times is the strength of Kumihimo’s history of several hundred years.
In the current era, Kumihimo has new possibilities and is evolving day by day.
Development of new products
Kumihimo is not only beautiful but also practical in that it is elastic, easy to tie, hard to untie, and hard to break.
The history of kumihimo is marked by the development of products that take advantage of these characteristics and meet the needs of the times.
In the corona vortex, the kumihimo mask commercialized by Itogo was inevitably born in the current era.
Iga kumihimo has been living with the times. The new challenge leads to the future of Iga kumihimo.