What is Yuzen?

What is Yuzen? |
A special event was held in Ochiai (Shinjuku-ku), and some workshops laid open for public.

Yuzen is one of the typical way of dyeing fabric. It’s said that Yuzensai Miyazaki (1654 – 1736), who was an artist painter on fan in Kyoto, proceeded this method.
Yuzen dyeing uniquely uses multi-color and paints simplified pictures of human, animals, plants, artifacts, landscape etc.
There were many kimono artisans in Edo (present Tokyo), and there are many kimono workshops in Tokyo even today.

How to dye Yuzen

1. Sketch

The artisan makes a preliminary sketch with a special ink which is made from dayflower. This ink will vanish when heated. (click the images to zoom)

yuzen table 1
yuzen table 2

2. Itome

Put a kind of paste on the line properly. This paste plays a role of dike preventing colors from running off.
The work is very delicate step and this paste line is called “itome”.

3. Irosashi

Lay on color inside of the outline. This step is called “irosashi”.
When finishing laying on one color, the artisan waits until it drys so that colors don’t mix except when making a gradation of color purposely.
There is a brazier under the work table.

yuzen enogu
Many colors are used.
yuzen irosashi
yuzen irosashi 3
yuzen irosashi 4

4. Mushi (steamed)

After irosashi, the next step is “mushi (steamed)”.
Fix the colors with steam at more than 80 degrees Celsius for about 20 – 40 min.
“Jizome” step is to dye the hole fabric. After covering carefully the design with the same paste, the ground color is dyed.

haneri finished irosashi
accomplished han-eri

5. Yuzen-nagashi

The paste is rinsed away and this step is known as “Yuzen-nagashi”.
This has been done in a river once, but recently, there are a few clean rivers and because of emvironmental problems, is done in the workshop.


Various designs of Obi

Other Yuzen

There are many local Yuzen style in Japan, and Kyo (Kyoto) Yuzen and Kaga (Ishikawa Prf.) Yuzen are very major.

Kyo Yuzen : pastel, polychromy, elegant and luxurious
Kaga Yuzen : Uses mainly 5 colors such as Ai, Enji, Oudoiro, Kusairo and Kodaimurasaki known as “Kaga-gosai (“go” means 5, “sai” means color).
Flowers are often designed.
And We can say Edo Yuzen represents chic.

# reference page of Kaga Yuzen