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Snow Bleaching or Yuki Sarashi: Echigo Jofu

Written on September 5, 2010

A client came by yesterday and we started talking about Echigo jofu, the fine-as-silk ramie weaving from what is now Niigata, Japan.  One of the many striking features of this cloth is that it is snow bleached, meaning it is laid on snow and the intense rays of light reflecting off the snow “bleach” the fibers and lighten their color. Since it’s summer, and we all need a bit of cooling off, I thought I’d  talk about this refreshing topic.Above is  a photo of tanmono, or full kimono bolts laying in the snow in Niigata; the photo is taken from this site.*

Echigo jofu in an amazingly dense topic of discussion: ramie weaving this fine is something marvelous in itself, but imagine that in the past, the far-flung area of Japan that produces this cloth was trading directly with the Okinawan islands, and, therefore, the weaving of this remote, rural, north western prefecture was influenced by the prized weaving of the tropics.

Another reason I wanted to write just a bit about Echigo jofu was to showcase this wonderful UNESCO site that has fantastic information on this remarkable cloth and the people responsible for making it.  It’s fascinating.

*please note that this website says that Echigo jofu is woven from hemp; it is woven from ramie.

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  1. Comment by Cynthia Baxter:

    That cloth must be worth a fortune! (The video on the making of the cloth is amazingly beautiful and so interesting!) Thanks for posting this.

    September 5, 2010 @ 11:20 am

  2. Comment by paula:

    It is Labor Day weekend here in the states. What an appropriate tribute to the ingenuity and power of human being working with their hands. thank you for sharing.

    September 5, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

  3. Comment by velma bolyard:

    thank you. the unesco sponsored site was extremely cool–i watched, withthe sound turned off, the video of the preparation of ramie. wonderful!

    September 6, 2010 @ 9:31 am