Welcome to the world of the beautiful production process of the Japanese traditional dyeing art, "Kyoyuzen"(京友禅).

One of the methods used in 京友禅 art is the "stencil dyeing", called "Katazome"(型染め) which was emerged at the beginning of the Meiji period. This method enables them to dye each different color by using multiple 型 so that they can express a delicate coloring.

In the Edo period, the art of dyeing such as "Komonzome" (小紋染め) and the original form of Kyoyuzen, "Surihitta"(摺り匹田) was already practiced.

However, due to the development of method called "chemical dye" in 写し友禅 by Jinsuke Hirose in the Meiji period, the basic stencil dyeing techniques of 京友禅 were established. He played a major role in spreading and popularizing the beauty of 京友禅 art culture in Japan.

"Introducing the production process of Kyoyuzen stencil dyeing"

•"Designing" 図案作り

The art of Kyoyuzen all starts from a rough sketch made by the dyer. The creative inspirations are shared with the designer to create a pattern. It requires them to have a face to face serious discussion to produce an ideal design that is suitable for the usage of Kimono.

•"Katagami Engraving" 型紙彫刻

In the Katagami engraving process, they use either Katagami, which is a unique paper made with multiple layered washi coated with the juice of persimmon, or synthetic papers.

The first step is to make a small hole into the Katagami called "Oshi".

Then, using "Oshi" as a guide, they layer the final design paper on top and slide into the proper position.

Now, they put a carbon paper in between to start tracing the outlines of the design, by using the tool called "Kimetsuketo".

The three types of tools used in the process of Katagami engraving.

1. "Kurui" is a double blazed tool used for engraving the outlines.

2. "Hikibori" is a smaller single blazed tool used to engrave the thinner outlines.

3. "Marugirito" is used to engrave small holes by turning the tool

They use these three engraving techniques to engrave an entire design.

•Making Dye Solutions 色合わせ

The dye is first heated up well in a pot to dissolve and form 染料原液 for dyeing.

Then, the multiple 染料原液 mixed with water are combined in the dye basket to create an ideal color.

The coloring of combined 染料原液 can be tested by putting a small amount of dye solution to a remnant cloth and steamed. The finished color will show after they wash the dried cloth with water. This color checking process is continued until they get the right color.

On the other hand in the process of 写し友禅, the 染料原液 is combined with the Yuzen starch. The coloring of combined 色塗りis tested by putting it on the white fabric and placing it in a small steamer.

By washing and drying the steamed fabric, the finished color can be checked.


The Yuzen wood board is used for 型置き. The length is about 7 meters long and it is a solid timber from the Maple tree.

It is coated with a strong adhesiveness starch called 敷きのり, which is made with mainly sticky rice.

Then, right before placing a cloth, the less adhesive starch called トロ糊 is evenly applied to the board by ハケ. This can restore the adhesiveness power so that the cloth can directly stick to the surface of 友禅板.

To prevent the dyed pattern to become distorted, they straighten and press down the cloth in both vertical and horizontal directions from the tip of the wood board to the very end.

型置き 摺り友禅

In 摺り友禅, the multiple 型紙 are engraved to dye each color separately. For dyeing, various sized 丸ハケ made from deer hair are used.

The 型紙 has a mark called "Hoshi" and they used it as a guide to check the proper position to dye a pattern. They slide over the 型紙 little by little to proceed the 摺り友禅 process.

[ ] 摺り版毛
[ ] 摺り友禅

First let the 摺り版毛 to absorb the dye solution, then rubbing it to the surface of Katagami.

The craftsman's special hand skill to control the strength of color is very important in this process.

The カチン摺り gives the delicate color touch similar to the brush stroke.

The ベタ摺り technique is used when they want to show the pattern in the same color strength.

The ボカシ摺り is to express the complex coloring and to create the shades of the flowers and leaves.

They use different brush stroke techniques to dye a pattern.


In 写し友禅, 色塗り (a mixture of dye solution and the starch) is brushed into the Katagami by コマベラ. The 色塗り is equally applied to create the same thickness. This can avoid uneven color spots.

In 型友禅, both techniques of 摺り友禅and 写し友禅 are used to apply the 色塗り. They use a single technique or both techniques to finish a pattern.

Depending on the number of colors and patterns the design has, even if it's the same color, sometimes they require to engrave multiple Katagami separately. Therefore, when dyeing a long-sleeved Kimono, they need hundreds of Katagami to dye the entire design.


After completing the 型置き process, they now move on to the 伏せ糊 process.

This process is to coat 防染糊 to the all finished dyed parts to protect it from getting any stain.

The 伏せ糊 is washed off by the remained 地染め water.

•引染 地入れ

A preparation step before proceeding to 引染 process is 地入れ. In this 地入れ process, the dyed cloth is hung between two supported wood pillars. After the thin wood sticks called 伸子 are attached to the cloth horizontally, the 引染地入れ液 is applied all over the surface.

When it gets dried, the dye solution is finally applied to the 地入れ cloth by using ハケ. Repeating this process can strengthen the color.

•蒸し 水洗い

Next, the finished 引染 cloth is placed inside the steaming box to get steamed. This steaming process transfers the dye solution to the cloth fibers.

After finishing the steaming process, they use water to wash off any unnecessary remains from the cloth. Then, it is soaked into the water for long hours to separate 色塗りfrom the cloth. Lastly, they wash off everything unnecessary byふり洗い to complete this process.


The washed and dried cloth is put in the steam ironing machine (湯のし).

Before processing
Adding gold processing 金加工 and sewing processing 刺繍加工 to the design can create beautifully gorgeous impression.


This is the end of all steps in the production process of Kyoyuzen.

We saw in the process of 型彫りand 型置き工程, the proficient skills by the craftsman are indispensable. Their extremely delicate traditional stencil dyeing skills have been fascinating and making people's hearts sparkle.

押箔 Pressing foil

The word "Oshi"(押)means to press and "Haku"(箔) means foil. This is a process of pasting foil. Foil is also known as gold or silver leaf.
Apply glue to where you desire to paste the gold or silver foil. Lightly, wipe off the glue with a cotton cloth. Promptly and gently, paste the foil to avoid getting creases. It is crucial to let it dry with natural air.

摺り箔 Printing Foil

"Suri"(摺り) means to print. This traditional printing technique is performed to show countless flashes of gold and silver. It allows for kimono clothes to appear luxurious.
Place a paper pattern on the fabric. The paper patterns are made in quantities of colors used in a design.
(In general, 1 to 30 paper patterns are used. For complicated design, approximately 300 to 500 paper patterns are made and used in this laborious technique. )
Apply glue with a Japanese traditional Koma-spatula, and sprinkle gold or silver dust. Repeat this process, layer by layer.

振り落とし金彩砂子 sprinkling gold leaf

"Huri Otoshi"(振り落とし)refers to sprinkle and "Sunago"(砂子) means gold or silver dust.
This is a coloring technique that utilizes a traditional bamboo tube filled with gold or silver dust, which has wire mesh on the tip of the opening. A traditional hard brush is used to paint.
Typically 3 to 6 colors are required, just to paint a petal of a flower to deliver a delicacy and aesthetic in colors.
The "Huri Otoshi Kindami Sunago"(振り落とし金彩砂子) was applied to a short-sleeved kimono worn by a Japanese painter Ogata korin who is known for byo bu folding screen, in the mid-Edo period.

盛り上げ箔 Raising foil

The term "Moriage Haku" itself means to raise or exaggerate the foil. This is a technique to give a 3-dimensional visual effect in lines, surfaces, and dots by using glue with high viscosity in its procedure.
Heat or spray with a mixture of solvent to the glued area. Sprinkle gold, or silver dust to give it a fancy glossiness. This effect can emulate the look of Japanese traditional embroidery stitches.

金線画 Golden line painting
The word "Kin Sen"(金線) means the golden line. lt is a style of painting that utilizes a slim tubed paper with an extremely small hole on the tip. This tubed paper contains a mixture of solvent, oil synthetic resin, and metal powder.
This ink gives lines and dots on kimono clothes a smooth, soft, and sober look.

泥金 Muddy gold painting

This is an ink that contains alluvial gold or silver and resin(also known as Nikawa).
The purpose of applying this exclusive ink is to enhance the elegance in design. This ink can be painted directly on the fabric with a brush or by using a wooden pattern and a spatula.

切箔 Slicing foil
"Kiri"(切)means to cut. It is a process of cutting pasting foil. This skill is to give a kimono, subtle beauty, and unique identity by pasting strips.
Sprinkle gold or silver dust on deer leather, place it on to a cutting board, and slice it with a traditional sharpened bamboo knife (Shino knife) into extremely thin strips.

箔はがし Peeling foil
"Hagashi"(剥がし)means to peel off. This method is applied to harmonize きつい色 and gold and silver dust.
The procedure starts by painting the base layer with the traditional Yuzen pattern in きつい色 Apply glue on the whole base. Paste or sprinkle gold or silver foil. Peel off the foil with a cotton cloth after they are naturally dried.
This will allow the base layer (Yuzen pattern) to appear casually, while gold or silver foil flashes beautifully. It brings a new sensation to the fabric.
There are many more techniques that can make fabrics to transform into a distinctive, and phenomenal look such as "Mawata Haku"(まわた箔), "Momi Haku"(もみ箔), "Piece Kakou "(ピース加工) and "Hot Stamping kakou"(ホットスタンピング加工).