Hakata-ori Textile (博多織)

Hakata-ori textile refers to a silk textile, a local speciality of mainly Hakata in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. It is also called Kenjo Hakata (present to the shogunate from Hakata).

It is made with a lot of thin warps and strongly drawn by bulky wefts with a reed, and is characterized by the design of Hakata-ori textile woven with raised warps. It has sakizome (previously dyed yarn) or sakineri (previously refined yarn). Its materials are silk thread, gold thread and silver thread. The fabric has thickness and firmness, which is excellent for use as an obi sash. The Hakata obi sash has a reputation for making silk make a satisfying squeak when tying it. In professional sumo, only wrestlers with the rank of makushita or above are allowed to tie Hakata obi sash.

Kenjo Hakata' with especially high quality as Hakata-ori textile, features design with a Vajra club (a pestle-like object with pointed ends), a flower tray (both are Buddhist altar articles), and komochi-shima (uneven stripped pattern). Kenjo Hakata is also a symbol of the Hakata Station of Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau.

Currently, Hakata-ori products are mostly made by machine weaving. Production areas are found in Fukuoka City and various regions in and out of Fukuoka Prefecture as well as Hakata. Hakata-ori Textile Industrial Association coordinates such actions such as issuing a sticker to certify the quality of Hakata ori textile. Hakata-ori Textile Industrial Association owns the trademark 'Hakata-ori,' and reintroduced it as a regional organization trademark in 2007.

Hakata-ori textile is used for Western clothing, bags or purses as well as traditional Japanese dresses, as the trademark, "HAKATA JAPAN." Hakata-ori textile is also used for the vestment of Pope John PAUL the Second (Pope of the Catholic Church) made by Yumi KATSURA.

Hakata Machiya Furusatokan' (Hakata townsman houses in Hometown Hall) near Kushida-jinja Shrine (Fukuoka City) holds a hand weaving demonstration of Hakata-ori textile. And Shoten-ji Temple holds 'Hakata-ori Fair,' a new collection show of Hakata-ori textile in the beginning of November each year.

Hakata-ori textile started in 1241 in the Kamakura period, when a Hakata merchant Yazaemon MITSUDA (1202-1282), who came back to Japan with Enni (Benen) from Song (dynasty), brought the Chinese weaving technique. Yazaemon called this the 'Canton Province weave,' and made this technique a house inherited secret. It is said that design of the tokko (single-prong) and flower tray were advised by Benen. It is said that Yazaemon also learned how to make somen (Japanese vermicelli) and Jakogan (musk pills) besides the weaving technique, and taught these to people.

In the sixteenth century, Hikosaburo MITSUDA, a descendant of Yazaemon, went to Guangzho City in Ming and studied weaving techniques. It is said that, after coming back to Japan, he made thick textile by making improvements in the process along with Iemon (Tobei) TAKEWAKA, together with the house inherited technique and new technology he had learned. It was similar to amber weave (taffeta) in its elaboration, and had a raised stripe design and willow branch pattern. The nature of the fabric was very firm and was used for obi sash rather than for rolls of kimono cloth, which were the origin of Hakata obi sash. Hikosaburo called this 'Hakata ori' (覇家台織). 覇家台' refers to one of the names of Hakata in China.

In the Edo period, Nagamasa KURODA, the first feudal lord of the Fukuoka Domain, Chikuzen Province, started to present (kenjo) rolls of cloth and Hakata-ori textile obi sash to the shogunate. This made Hakata-ori textile to be called Kenjo-Hakata, Hakata-kenjo, or Kenjo-design. Kenjo-Hakata textile has five colors: blue, red, dark-blue, yellow and purple, so it is called the Five-color kenjo or Rainbow kenjo.
Blue dye, created from Kariyasu grass represents 'benevolence,' red dye from madder 'politeness,' dark-blue dye from indigo (plant) 'wisdom,' yellow dye from turmeric or bayberry 'faith' and purple dye from purple gromwell 'virtue.'

In 1815, a merchant named Gonbei YAMAZAKI had Kabuki actors, Danjuro ICHIKAWA and Hanshiro IWAI wear Hakata obi sash to perform the Kabuki drama 'Natsumatsuri Naniwa-kagami' (Summer festival in Naniwa). It is said that this made Hakata obi sash a popular style at the time. Besides, when Nakazo NAKAMURA played the role of Sadakuro ONO in Kanatehon Chushingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers), he wore black habutae silk and white hakata obi sash, which was stylish and became popular, and later became a conventional costume for Sadakuro. Other than these, Hakata obi sash was used in lots of Kabuki performances.

Since the Fukuoka clan established the weaver stock system which was limited to 12 families for quality preservation of Kenjo articles (articles for presentation), the quality was kept throughout the Edo period. However, in the Meiji period, the stock system was abolished, and free competition increased the number of manufacturers. In order to prevent a drop in quality, the Hakata-ori Company was established in 1880, which became Hakata-ori Trade Organization six years later, and after going through transitions, became the current Hakata-ori Textile Industrial Association as a capitalized association.

In 1885, Jacquard machines and Dobby machines were introduced, and full-scale machine production started.

After the war, during the rapid economic growth period, the demand for the weave increased, and its production output and the number of the association members were at its highest numbers ever, but the oil crisis, bubble economy and burst of the bubble caused its decline. In 1971, the master weaver Zenzaburo OGAWA was designated a Living National Treasure, and on June 2, 1976, Hakata-ori textile was designated as a Traditional Craft of Japan. Kisaburo OGAWA, a son of Zenzaburo, was designated a Living National Treasure in 2003.

The Hakata Color Image Weaving was developed in an effort to realize the technical skills of traditional craftsmen for Hakata-ori textile in an "expert systemizing project" that was started in 1994, which involved the use of computers. The first prototype was presented to the President Bill CLINTON and his wife, who came to Japan.

In 2002, the fabric for the costume of Hakata Gion Yamakasa doll was changed from Nishijin-ori to Hakata-ori textile.

A specified nonprofit organization, 'Hakata-ori Development College' for development of Hakata-ori textile and training of next-generation craftsmen was established in April, 2006, which has fostered the younger generation.

The Traditional Seven Items of Hakata-ori Textile
Kenjo/Kawari Kenjo (variation of kenjo)
Kenjo' has tateune-ori (vertical rib) and is designed with a raised single-prong, a flower tray, and stripes. Kawari Kenjo' has hira-ori (plain weave), and is arranged with design.

Hira-Hakata (obi woven by using dyed or scoured silk yarn)
It is plain color textile with tateune-ori.

Kando (obi of vertical or lateral stripes, or plaid woven using dyed or scoured silk yarn)
Striped textile. It is a variation of hira-ori, or aya-ori (twill weave) and shushi-ori (satin weave), or a variation of aya-ori and shushi-ori.

Souke (fabric in multiple weave with dyed or soured silk yarn)
It has kasane-ori (ply weave) and its design is formed by uketate (raised warp).

Kasane-ori (play weave)
The design is formed by warps, or by warps and wefts.

Mojiri-ori (Leno weave)
It has karami-ori (leno), and its design is formed by uketate, or by warps and wefts, or enuki-ito (figure wefts).

Enuki Hakata (Obi woven by a jacquard loom using dyed or scoured silk yarn)
It has a variation of hira-ori, or aya-ori and shushi-ori, or a variation of aya-ori and shushi-ori. The design is formed by wefts.
However, enuki-ito wefts are used for back knit except for the hira-ori variation

Kinds of Traditional Craft Mark Certificate Stickers
Gold certificate sticker - honken (pure silk) is used for both warps and wefts. Used to be the former silver certificate sticker.

Green certificate sticker - honken is used for warps, and silk other than honken is used for wefts.

Purple certificate sticker - silk other than honken is used for both warps and wefts.

Blue certificate sticker - fiber other than silk, such as natural fiber, chemical fiber and synthetic fiber is used.

[Original Japanese]