Written on January 16, 2012
This katazome dyed hemp kimono with a heavily sashiko stitched bodice is a variant on the traditional kogin kimono, kogin being a kind of sashiko stitching from the Tsugaru district in Aomori prefecture in Japan’s Tohoku region.Kogin stitching is emblematic of this very rural part of Japan, Honshu island’s northern or easternmost point. From Kogin and Sashiko Stitch from the Kyoto Shoin’s Art Library of Japanese Textiles, Vol. 13:
The Tsugaru district in the western part of Aomori prefecture is famous for deep snow. Due to the extreme cold, cotton is hard to grow; and, as cotton that was grown and brought in from the western part of Japan was too expensive, people living in the district were compelled to wear hemp clothes. The kogin stitch was produced under these conditions. The white stitches, sewn with valuable cotton thread, are reminiscent of the deep snow of Tsugaru.In referencing the above captioned book to understand this example better, it seems that this kogin is called higashi-kogin, as the design and stitching style comes from areas east of Mt. Iwaki.Generally we see kogin kimono which are constructed from a deep blue indigo dyed hemp and a sashiko stitched bodice, the cotton stitching worked on a hemp base. This stitched bodice is a separate piece and sleeves, a skirt and collar area are all stitched to this kogin stitched bodice, the sides of which are closed and form the side seams of the garment.In this case, things are not as just described. A rustic, stencil resist dyed hemp cloth kimono–in this case the hemp cloth is called Nambu katazome–is used for a base, and a kogin bodice is overlayed onto the existing garment and is firmly stitched to the base. Kogin, as you can imagine, is extremely valuable, so it will be used and reused over time. Examples showing this kind of re-use and this kind of katazome kimono base are fairly rare.The stitching is done with fairly thick cotton threads and is extremely dense.The kogin stitching dates to the late nineteenth century, the Nambu katazome kimono could be later, and it probably is. The garment measures 45 1/2″ x 44″ or 115.5 cm x 112 cm.