Awa Sho-ai Shijira-ori makes the most of indigo color


Awa Sho-Ai Shijira-ori, the blue color and uneven fabric tastes

Awa Sho-Ai Shijira-ori is a cotton fabric produced in Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan, and was designated as a traditional craft in 1978. “Shijira” refers to the fine wrinkles that form on the surface of textiles. Awa Sho-ai shijira-ori has uneven surfaces throughout the fabric, which makes it feel light and comfortable to the touch without being sticky. The cotton material also has excellent moisture absorbency, making it ideal for summer kimonos that are light and cool to the touch. This makes it the perfect fabric for surviving hot summers.

Awa Sho-Ai Shijira-ori
Source: The Tokuyama Shinbun 2017/6/2

As with shijira-ori, combining it with Awa indigo, which is produced in Awa, makes it possible to create a fabric with more freshness and depth. Japan has a variety of crafts using indigo color, such as Otani ware or Kaga Yuzen. The fresh indigo color and the rustic texture of cotton are attractive and have been used for yukata (summer kimonos) and kimonos worn during the summer and fall months. In recent years, small items such as handkerchiefs and neckties, and interior items such as tapestries and luncheon mats have also been produced, making Awa Shoran shijira-ori easy to enjoy for men and women of all ages.

History of Awa Sho-Ai Shijira-ori

Awa Shoro Ai Shijira-ori was born in 1866 (Keio 2). A woman named Hana Kaifu accidentally discovered the shijira-ori technique in Ataka Village, Naito County, Awa Province, which is now Ataka, Tokushima City. When she was drying the “tatae-shimai” cotton fabric that was popular among the common people of Awa Province at the time, a sudden rainfall caused the fabric to get wet and shrink. Hana noticed the wonderful texture of the unevenness created by the shrunken fabric and came up with the idea of making a cotton fabric with an uneven texture.

After much research, Hana invented the shijira-ori technique, which uses the difference in tension of the warp threads to create the uneven texture. Shijira-ori, which could be made from inexpensive cotton and was light and cool, was accepted by the general public and became widely popular in Awa province.

In Awa province, the cultivation of indigo was encouraged by the Hachisuka clan, the feudal lord of Awa province, and from the middle of the Edo period, Awa indigo was actively cultivated in the Yoshino River valley. Awa indigo was so abundant that it accounted for about 1/4 of the nation’s production until the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912), and its high quality as a dye for cotton led to its use in dyeing shijira-ori fabrics. Even after the decline of the indigo industry in Awa province, it continued to be popular as a casual wearable garment and is now maintained as a traditional industry.

Awa Sho-Ai Shijira-ori
Source: Aucfree

To search for products

Haimuraya Co.
Location: 9 Toiyacho, Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture, 770-8056, Japan
tel:088-635-8168 fax:088-635-8169
Representative: SHOJI HAIMURA
Internet store:

Manufacturing Process

1. Kase-age

A loop of yarn called “Kase” is made. Using a machine called a “kase-age frame,” the raw yarn is wound around a tube. This process makes the yarns cohesive and easy to dye.

2. Dyeing

The skeins are dyed in a special kase-dyeing pot. The longer the skeins are soaked in indigo, the darker the indigo becomes. In addition to natural indigo, chemical dyes are also used to dye the yarn in various colors.

3. Washing in water

The dyed yarn is washed in water. Awa indigo requires repeated washing in water until the original color comes out.

4. Drying in the sun

The threads are dried in the sun while being covered with laver to suppress the fluffiness. Exposure to the air allows the indigo to oxidize and develop beautiful colors. Since indigo dyeing cannot be done in a single step, the process of dyeing, washing in water, and drying in the sun is repeated.

5. Ito-kuri

Next, the dyed skeins of yarn are wound onto a thread frame and made ready for weaving.

6. Seikei and Nukimaki

The warp yarns are all aligned to the number and length required for weaving. This process is called “warping. The weft yarns are threaded through a shuttle, the tool used during weaving, and “weft winding” is performed.

7. Weaving on a loom

Weaving is done on a loom. In order to create a “shibo” (a pattern with a grain pattern), it is necessary to weave while creating a difference in tension between the warp and weft yarns. For this purpose, different combinations of plain weave and warp-weave yarns are used.

8. Drying and Finishing

The woven fabric is soaked in hot water, which causes it to shrink, resulting in the appearance of grain. After drying, Awa Sho-ai Shijira-ori is completed.

Awa dyeing
Source: Nukumore


Awa Sho-Ai dye is not a single color, but is created from various indigo colors, resulting in a beautiful, deep indigo color. The dyeing, drawing, and drying process is repeated many times so that the color does not become darker the first time. Awa Shoran Dyeing is washed 30 times in water to bring out the original color. The colors produced by this painstaking process have a charm that cannot be imitated by any other dyeing method. If you are interested in indigo dyeing traditional crafts, you  can also enjoy Omi Fabric or Seto ware!

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