Article provided by Omomuki Tsushin(趣通信)
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There was a time, when the kimono was “everyday wear” in Japan. In those days, taking care of or even making over a kimono was part of everyday chores for ordinary people. Most people had the wisdom to make their kimonos wearable for as long as possible. But those days have since gone.
Nowadays, when a kimono needs some special care, it is taken to a kimono shop or dyeing shop, some of which are capable of doing everything related to kimono – washing (araihari), removing stains, adding family crests, tailoring – in other words, everything. In recent years, however, such specialist shops have been gradually decreasing in number and now only a few remain.
This time, we visited one such specialist shop – “Daruma-ya, Kyozome Honten”- a kimono shop, located in Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. During this visit to Darumaya we observed the araihari process or the traditional way of washing kimono. Now, let’s see what that’s like.
WHAT IS ARAIHARI?
“Araihari is the traditional method for washing kimono, which includes a number of steps. Firstly, stitches on the kimono are removed to bring it back to its original form- a bolt of fabric(we call it “tanmono“)>. And then the tanmono is washed, starched, steamed, smoothed and neatly stretched to the right width with the use of thin bamboo sticks called shinshi. While going through all these steps, spots and stain and old starches are all washed away and new starch is applied to the surface of the tanmono. Then finally the fabric springs back to life.
Is that it?
No, it is still in the state of a tanmono, it needs to be sewn back into a kimono. Now with all the unwanted wrinkles and creases totally removed from the fabric after having gone through the process of araihari, it is in a perfect condition for being stitched into a kimono again. Moreover, you can add some changes in terms of size, lining and the color of hakkake(lining around cuff and hem) that bring about a new attractiveness to your kimono.”
Reference: Darumaya Kyozome Honten
STEPS IN ARAIHARI
Unravel all stitches on a kimono. They should be completely removed – this is time consuming work.
2 Stitching pieces together at their edges (Hashinui)
After all the stitches are removed, the kimono is deconstructed into pieces. Stitch the pieces together at their edges to create a tanmono. At Darumaya, we use a special sewing machine for this process.
Using special detergent and a scorer, rub the tanmono to remove stains. The water temperature and the pressure applied should be carefully adjusted, depending on the type of fabric.
Remove water from the washed tanmono and hang it outside and dry it.
After washing, adjust the tanmono to the fixed width in preperation for the next step. If the fabric pieces have frayed at the seams during the washing, stitch them neatly together again.
6 Shinshi Bari(Stretching)
A shinshi is a thin bamboo stick with needles at both ends. Bamboo is pliable and flexible. Utelising this characteristic, the shinshi sticks are used to stretch and smooth out the creases of kimono fabrics, especially tsumugi-type fabric. Roughly 600 shinshi sticks are required for one tanmono. They are applied to the fabric in the width direction every two centimeters.
Natural material starch (funori) is applied to the surface of the shinshi-stretched fabric by a brush. The thickness of the starch is adjusted according to the type of fabric and season of the year. Many years of experience is required to know the correct thickness needed.
After starching, the tanmono is dried whilst still having shinshi on it. While being dried slowly with those bamboo sticks, the fabric gets stretched and wrinkles are removed.
9 Steaming and pressing (unoshi)
This step is for the chirimen-type of fabric and a specialized steaming machine called, tenta is used. The tanmonois run through the roller with steam being applied all over its surface. In this process, any irregularities on the fabric in the width and length are totally removed.
The finished tanmono is rolled around a flat wooden plate called a makiita. The plate is used as a core so that fabrics are folded neatly in shape and size. Then the tanmono is pulled out from the plate and is folded flat and fixed with biding string at its end. Now araihari is completed.
REVIVE YOUR KIMONO WITH ARAIHARI AND OTHER SMALL CHANGES
What if you got a wonderful kimono, however, it is not your size? Or what if you want to have your daughter try on your furisode(the most formal type of kimono worn only by unmarried women), but it’s a little bit short for her? Then, if you need any help with your kimono, please feel free to ask us. We can help solve your problems. We can alter your kimono, and replace stained and discolored doura (lining other than hakkake part) with new ones to make your kimono as beautiful as it used to be. We can also add a different taste to your kimono by changing the color of hakkake.
Let us show you one such case that we, “Darumaya” have had before.
MOTHER’S FURISODE ALTERNATION FOR HER DAUGHTER
A frisode was brought in by a mother who wanted to get it altered for her daughter. She said, “My daughter loves the kimono because it has beautiful patterns. The problem is that she is taller than me by more than 10 centimeters. It simply doesn’t fit her.” That was why the mother brought the kimono to us.”
Reference Darumaya Kyozome Honten
BEFORE THE OVERHAUL
AFTER THE OVERHAUL
“We unraveled the furisode, did araihari, and tailored it to the daughter’s size. We changed doura, because it turned yellow with age. And as a final touch, we even stitched date-eri to it. (date-eri is a decorative collar to make you look as if you wear another kimonogown under your kimono)”
On the day we interviewed Darumaya, they showed us all those traditional steps from the washing to the stretching with shinshi, and the starching. Each of the work was carefully done by hand.
It’s really a time-consuming process, so we asked them whether they had ever thought of introducing some kind of machine to save time and effort.
To this question, the answer by Kenichi Yagi, the 6th owner of the shop, was quite simple.
“Only when you feel it and do it with your own hands, can you make a difference. It’s much better.”
They provide kimono care other than araihari, like stain removal, dyeing etc. All the work is done by hand and tailored to each individual kimono.
It was impressive to see Mr. Yagi, when he smiled and said,
“It’s really time-consuming, though we are very happy if our customers can feel comfortable in their refreshed kimono – and wear the kimono again and again.”
Staff at Darumaya Kyozome Honten (* the gentleman on the far left is Kenichi Yagi, the 6th owner)
Not only do they offer kimono care, but they can give you tips how to wear kimono and obi (kimono sash) neatly and fashionably.
Why don’t you visit them some day?
VIDEO OF ARAIHARI
Darumaya Kyozome Honten
5-7 Akashi-cho, Hiratsuka-shi, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan