Honshiozawa | The elegant Kasuri for Japanese Kimono


Honshiozawa has Delicate expression in calmness

Honshiozawa is a silk fabric made in Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture. It is called “Honshiozawa” because it is made mainly in the Shiozawa area. It is characterized by the use of Haccho twisted yarn to create a crisp and shiny fabric that is perfect for summer. In addition to Hon-Shiozawa, traditional fabrics such as Shiozawa Tsumugi and Natsu-Shiozawa are also produced in the Shiozawa area. Each textile is carefully finished by the hands of craftsmen, so you will feel a different impression from each piece. Incidentally, Shiozawa tsumugi is known as one of the three most famous tsumugi in Japan, and is characterized by its grainy texture as well as Hon-Shiozawa.

Kimono with Honshiozawa
Source: Kimono Aoki

Characteristics of Hon-Shiozawa

Shariness” and “graininess” are the two characteristics of Hon-Shiozawa.

Originally, Honshiozawa was famous as a summer silk fabric, and “crisp” is a word that expresses a cool impression suitable for summer. It is soft, light, and smooth and comfortable to wear even in summer, and is described as having a crisp feeling if it does not stick to the body easily. This expression is mainly used for hemp fabrics, and since Honshiozawa is made based on hemp fabric technology, you can enjoy a comfortable crisp feeling. Because of its cool atmosphere and comfort, it is often used for summer kimonos and hitoe.

Another characteristic of this fabric is its “graininess,” an expression referring to the fine irregularities on the surface of the fabric. Strongly twisted yarns are used for the warp, and the yarns are then blanched in lukewarm water to create a textile with a strong graininess. The unevenness of the surface can be clearly seen when you touch it with your hand, and you will be able to feel the grainy texture of Hon-Shiozawa.

The high-twisted yarn is indispensable to create the grainy texture, and in fact, it is twisted 2,000 times per meter, which is about three times more than ordinary twisted yarns. Although the numbers alone may not conjure up images, the three times more twisting than ordinary yarns produces a strong texture. The strongly twisted yarn has a greater ability to shrink, resulting in a greater unevenness than other fabrics.

Many of the patterns are delicate, such as kikko-kasuri (tortoiseshell pattern) and jujikasuri (cross-shaped pattern), which shows the attention to detail and skill of the weaver. The extremely fine and sharp patterns are produced because of the unique production method of Hon-Shiozawa.

Manufacturing method & Process

1. Drawing and designing

The pattern positions are decided on using a piece of square paper, and a kasuri drawing is made according to the original draft or sample. At this stage, the length of the threads and the position of the kasuri pattern are designed in detail. Based on this drawing, a kasuri ruler is made.

2. Twisted Yarn

Raw silk is used for both the warp and weft of the shiozawa. The raw yarns are divided into warp and weft for the base yarn and warp and weft for the kasuri yarn, depending on the intended use, and then twisted according to the standard. This process, called “lower twisting,” ensures uniform thickness and strength of the yarns.

3. Attaching and kubiri

The kasuri pattern of Honshiozawa, which combines crisscross kasuri and tortoiseshell kasuri, is composed of fine kasuri called mosquito kasuri. First, the weft yarn is stretched on a stretcher, and the pattern positions are marked with black ink using a kasuri ruler. In the “hand-knot” kasuri pattern, the areas marked with black ink are tightly bound with cotton threads and dyed. If the threads are not tightly bound, the dye will not be applied to the area where the dye is bound and will remain, but if the binding is not done properly, the dye will get into the bound area and cause the kasuri to be broken.

4. Surikomi

In the “Te-Surikomi” process, dye is applied to the inked raw threads with a surikomi spatula, and then the color is fixed in steam at approximately 100°C. The dye is then applied to the raw threads with the spatula, and then the color is fixed in the steam at approximately 100°C.

5. Highly twisted yarn

After the weft base yarns are low-twisted, they are refined and dyed. After that, they are glued with starch powder, and then twisted again to produce a crinkled texture. Right- and left-handed yarns are twisted separately, with 1,800 strong upper twists per meter, to produce right- and left-handed high-twisted yarns. This gives the woven cloth a crisp texture.

6.Preparation for weaving, weaving

Weaving is done on a loom called a takahata, which has two sets of heddles and a reed. The weaver manipulates the loom with his feet, and the heddles and reeds move up and down, creating a space for the warp threads to be threaded up and down and for the weft threads to come and go.

The warp threads are wound onto a spool while adjusting the tension of the warp threads so that the warp threads are aligned with the base threads and the kasuri threads so that they are not misaligned. The warp threads are then threaded one by one through the weaving machine’s heddles and two by two through the reed. The standard number of warp threads is approximately 1500.

Three types of weft yarns are used: right-twisted high-twist ground yarn, left-twisted high-twist ground yarn, and kasuri yarn. The weft yarn is first separated one by one into kasuri yarn and then wound onto a weaving tube. The right-handed high-twist and left-handed high-twist ground yarns are also wound onto separate tubes, with one marked so that the right and left sides cannot be mistaken. Once the preparation is complete, the warp and weft kasuri are carefully matched one by one by hand, and the right- and left-twisted yarns are carefully woven together.


After the cloth is woven, dirt and glue are removed, and the cloth is then boiled in hot water to create a grain. The hot water firring causes the cloth to shrink by approximately 10% in a small wrinkle, producing the wavy unevenness unique to Hon-Shiozawa, or “shibo. The yumo-moiled cloth is then rolled up to the specified width, and finally inspected for uneven weave and stains to complete Honshiozawa, which has a unique crisp texture.

Source: https://www.spot-g-kimono.com/SHOP/honsionakata2.html
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