Kurume kasuri

Discover the techniques used to make kasuri fabric in this booth display at Japan House London.

Kasuri is a woven fabric which uses threads dyed in advance using ‘resist-dye’ techniques which ensure that only sections of the thread take up a dye. The selectively dyed threads are then woven to a plan in order to produce a consistent pattern.

Kurume-kasuri is produced in the Chikugo region of southern Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyūshū. Together with Iyo on the island of Shikoku and Bingo on the main Japanese island of Honshū, Kurume is one of Japan’s three major kasuri production centres.

Kurume-kasuri is said to have been developed in the late Edo period (around 1800) by a 12-year-old girl named Inoue Den, and Kurume became an established production centre in the 1820s. At one point the region produced an estimated two-to-three million kasuri items annually, but after 1945 production of kasuri declined as Japan increasingly imported overseas clothing designs.

In recent years, individual weavers have taken up the challenge and production has shown signs of an increase. The Kurume-kasuri technique was designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1957 and a ‘traditional craft’ designated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1976.