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Seven Very Good Sakabukuro

September 25, 2011

For me, it’s always sort of a big deal to find very good sakabukuro, cotton bags which are saturated with kaki shibu or green persimmon tannin which were used to filter sake during the process of making it.  Good bags, ones with rich color, age, and mending, as can be seen on these, are harder and harder to come by.  It’s gratifying to have this group of seven.By looking at the various shades of stitching, you can tell if the bag was overdyed, mended, overdyed, mended again.  The photo below shows this very well.
Some of these mending stitches look like scars, especially the one above.This group is probably from the 1930s or so.  After the war, newer methods of sake production began, so the use of this kind of hand stitched, cotton bags became obsolete.  Now, as you know, they are very collectible.

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A Group of Four Pale and Patched Boro Sakabukuro

January 2, 2011

This is a group of four, boro sakabukuro, or sake straining bags: the pale brown color and the strident white patching and mending are really beautiful.

I’ve shown some other sakabukuro on this blog in the past, so have a look at the word cloud or “tags” to the right of this posting, click on sakabukuro.  You can view some of the preceding posts.These bags are made of a commercial grade cotton duck canvas cloth which has been saturated in kaki shibu, or the tannin of green persimmons.  Kaki shibu helps strengthen the fibers of the cotton and that’s a good thing: in order to make sake, these bags were filled with unfiltered sake lees; the filled bags were then pressed so a purer form of sake would start draining from the bag, leaving the solids behind.The repeated pressure applied to these bags during the sake making process would affect the condition of the bags, necessitating patching and mending.Soy sauce was made in a similar way using similar bags and although these bags are generally referred to as sakabukuro, one cannot be certain if they were used for making sake or soy sauce.  Unless, of course, someone tells you from where these bags were procured.All the patching and mending of the bag is done by hand.  However, the top seam is finished with machine stitching.Each of these bags measures 30″ x 10″ or 76.5 cm x 25.5 cm.  They probably date to the mid twentieth century.   A gorgeous group!

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A Trio of Very Boro Sakabukuro or Sake “Filters”

January 4, 2010

What a wonderful group of three heavily stitched and mended sakabukuro or the persimmon tannin dipped, cotton bags that were used to filter raw sake during the sake-making process.


I will be offering each of these for sale on my website this Wednesday, 6 January, starting 10 AM, New York time.


Before modern sake making techniques were widespread in Japan, probably during the first half of last century and earlier, crude sake, or sake lees, were poured into these bags which would be pressed to force out the filtered liquid.  Obviously the bags were used time and again and they suffered damage from use: this is the reason for of the intensive mending seen on these bags.


These three are really nice ones because of their mending; I had them stashed away for a while, but I just brought them out and decided to offer them for sale.

The bags on the left and right were constructed with machine stitching; the intensive. almost three-dimensional,  patching and stitching is all done by hand.


I hope you enjoy looking at these photos–and if any of these is of interest to you, check the [email protected] section of my website on or after January 6.

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Five Superb and Unusual Antique Sakabukuro

December 2, 2009

On my previous post, which you can see below this one, I showed textiles that were saturated in kaki shibu or green persimmon tannin.  I wrote about a set of six sakabukuro or sake straining bags, and I decided to follow that post by sharing more images of sakakuburo.

These are from my private collection and are really unusual for their patching—-which is really beautiful.


Although sakabukuro are generally mended with a distinctive stitch, they sometimes are patched with kaki shibu dyed fabric: this is the first time I’ve seen sakabukuro mended with cotton cloth, whose pale color is in wonderful contrast to the dark brown of the bag.


Really, really unusual; really, really beautiful.





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Kaki Shibu Dyed Textiles

November 28, 2009

Today I am showing some textiles that were “dyed” in the fermented juice extracted from unripe persimmons; this extract, called kaki shibu in Japan, yields a highly recognizable brown color when applied to cloth, paper and wood.

Kaki shibu was very widely utilized in old Japan as it was easy to apply and its benefits were useful: kaki shibu strengthened  the material it saturated, rendered it somewhat waterproof, and was also said to contain anti-bacterial properties.


Here we see a group of antique sakabukuro, or cotton bags that were saturated with green persimmon tannin and were used to filter crude sake.  If cloth is dipped many times in kaki shibu, a leathery look results from the build-up of layers of kaki shibu.

Since sakabukuro were used and re-used many, many times over a period of several years, they required mending.  The mending stitches on sakabukuro are unmistakable, and the more mending there is, the more attractive the bag–in my estimation, that is.


Below is a detail of the resist-dyed  noren or door cover which is shown in full in the photo at the top of the blog.  It is beautifully worn and faded, and it is discussed a bit more in detail, here.


If you are interested in kaki shibu,  have a quick look at this website who supplies the tannin and offers workshops.

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A Black Ramie Pojagi against a Large Mat of Boro Sakabukuro

April 3, 2009

This first image on today’s post may be a bit hard to understand as it must appear at first glance to be nothing more than contrasting  color and texture.

This post revisits an earlier post where I showed a large mat sewn from twelve sakabukuro.  I was scrolling through some of my old photos and I found these images of a black, Korean pojagi set against the backdrop of the mat of sakabukuro and I liked the way the color and texture played against one anotherand I also thought it would be an interesting study in similarity and contrast: I’m sure you will see what I mean.

Because these images show some details of the black pojagi that has appeared in the margins of photos in previous posts,  I thought they would be informative toward describing a bit more about  the pojagi–and I hope you enjoy looking.





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A Wall of Boro Sakabukuro or Mended Sake Straining Bags

November 7, 2008

This is a huge pieced area of sakabukuro, twelve flayed bags have been sewn together to create a large, single textile measuring 84″ x 67″/ 213.5 cm x 170 cm.  Sakabukuro are bags made of cotton which are saturated in green persimmon tannin or kaki shibu. In the process of making sake, these bags would be filled with sake lees or crude sake; these filled bags would then be subjected to pressure and filtered sake would be forced out.  Sakabukuro are collectible items both in Japan and in the West.

The pressure from repeated use would tear the bags and would necessitate patching and mending.  I’m not sure why so many bags were joined together to create such a large textile, but clearly it was useful somehow: perphaps a floor covering?

Mendings on sakabukuro are fantastic, some of the most interesting in the field of boro textiles.

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September 30, 2008

It is overcast here today so the photos I took of some of the sashiko pieces in my showroom reflect the grey weather.  As I wanted to post something on sashiko, I decided to go ahead with it, even if the ambient light isn’t the best.

Sashiko stitching is a hallmark of Japanese folk textiles and here you see a stack of sashiko stitched furoshiki (wrapping cloths) and, on the wall above the stack, are two sashiko stitched bags.   A quilting stitch, sashiko was first employed to add stability and to reinforce cloth, very often it was used to create layers of cloth for clothing. (The stack of brown cloth to the right of the sashiko furoshiki is a pile of sakabukuro or sake straining bags).

When cotton thread became widely available in Japan by the mid to late nineteenth century, sashiko stitching developed and became a more decorative stitch while still retaining its usefulness as a tool for reinforcement.  Sashiko furoshiki are stitched on the corners for the purpose of durability, for example.  As well, ‘fancy’ sashiko stitched utilitarian cloth was offered as part of a bridal trousseau and elaborately sashiko stitched clothing, more or less, were used for celebration and ceremony.

Kogin, the mind-bogglingly gorgeous sashiko from Japan’s far northern Aomori prefecture is a prime example of elaborate sashiko stitching.  (Go to the tag cloud to the right of this post and click on kogin to go directly to a post dedicated to this kind of stitching).

I love this heavily sashiko stitched bag: it’s on my website here.

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