Pouring the dye
Unique Japanese Hand Dyeing Tequnique
Chusen is a unique Japanese traditional hand dyeing technique that started in Meiji era (1868-1912) and is still practiced in Japan (only) today. This dyeing technique is used mostly for dyeing Tenugui.
Tenugui literally means “Hand towel” but is used in various ways, from kitchen towel to fashion accessories. The earliest records of Tenugui towels date back to Nara era (710-784) when they were used for rituals. During Edo period (1603-1867), when cotton was more affordable and accessible to ordinary people, Tenugui became very popular as an essential item for people’s every day life. It`s also during this period that they started being hand dyed one by one.
During Meiji era a breakthrough technique called Chusen was invented that dramatically increased the productivity of the dyeing process. Up to 20-25 tenugui could be dyed all at once. Thanks to this, Tenugui became even more popular and more people could enjoy their colourful and beautiful prints.
A dye-resistant paste made from a mixture of clay, sticky rice flour, and seaweed is spread on the cloth over the screen using Kihera (Spatula) to trace the pattern. Once the paste has been applied, they open the screen and carefully fold up the rest of the cloth on top of the finished ones. This process is repeated about 25 times (the cotton fabric is about 20m long). The masking process is very important as it also affects the subsequent processes if not done properly.
Once the Chusen process is completed, the cloth is taken to a washing area called Kawa (Literally means “River”). The dye-resistant glue and any excess dye are washed off. This process requires speed, otherwise the colour will be transferred unintentionally.
After being rinsed and spin-dried, the fabric is brought to a drying chamber with high celling. The fabric is hung up at the top and dried in the sun and fresh air. This drying method prevents discolouring.
NAKANI was founded in 1966 by Yukio Nakao in Sakai, Osaka.
Originally only manufacturing Tenugui for businesses, the demand and popularity of Tenugui rapidly decreased over time and hit the factory badly.
The successor, Yuji Nakao thought about closing the business but then came up with the idea of setting up their own factory brand called NIJIYURA (2008) to be able to sell their own Tenugui directly to consumers.
Nijiyura (にじゆら) consists out of two words: Nijimu(= Blurry) and Yurameku (= Fluttering). Two words that describe faults of the Chusen dyeing process that they found beautiful and inspirational at the same time. Their Tenugui slowly started taking in people`s heart.
With 6 shops across Japan passing on the tradition and beauty of these Tenugui hand towels their story continues.
There are many distinctive features to this dyeing process f.e. reversible prints
The delicate and gentle blurring, blotting, and unique texture that can only be achieved by hand is the most attractive feature of Chusen.
Sarashi = 晒 means “Purifying”. Normally cotton cloth needs to be purified as it contains various impurities. As for the purification process, traditionally Wa Zarashi was boiled and washed for 2-3 days. In modern times this is done f.e. by a rolling machine. Wa Zarashi has a very soft feeling, becoming even softer after usage. It`s also very water absorbant, making it a perfect material for Tenugui. Nakani only uses Wa Zarashi made by Sankyo Sarashi in Osaka.
First of all it`s perfect as a towel and that`s also how it has been used over centuries. Because of its excellent absorbency and quick-drying features it is also very handy in the kitchen, your workshop or during running, yoga, gym exercises etc.
You can also use this amazing cloth for various other purposes. Because of the wide variety of appealing patterns, tenugui can be used as a decorative table runner or placemat, fashion accessories or f.e. to wrap a precious item for preservation. Use it to wrap a gift, a lunch box, or even a sake bottle.
Or you can simply use it as a piece of art to lighten up your wall.
Soft and breezy long gauze cloth perfect for a fashion item in Spring and Summer
Once we re-stock them we will notify you through our social medias and newsletter.
Nijiyura’s signature Tenugui designs
The Tenugui desined by various artists.
Inspired by the culture and the tradition
12 signs of horoscope Tenugui by Nakani
Plain colourful Sashiko-ish Tenugui
Thank you for visiting our Nijiyura Tenugui oline shop!
Nakani has more than 300 prints archive so the items we stock are just a part of it.
We will review our selection and keep them updated.