Tokamachi Akashi Crepe
Towards the end of the 19th century a sample roll of summer-weight kimono cloth was brought back to Tokamachi from Nishijin in Kyoto. Work then began on adapting an existing local weave called Tokamachi sukiya with a view to producing something new. A great deal of effort was then put into developing and improving the ways of tightly twisting up weft threads, resulting in improvements to another existing cloth, yorisukiya.
Subsequently, attempts at using a tightly twisted weft thread were successful in creating sukiya chirimen, and then the cloth called Akashi Chijimi was put on the market during the early 1890s.
Until the beginning of World War II, these cool crepes dominated the light-weight summer kimono cloth market. However, after the war, production gradually went into a decline. The weaving techniques, however, have become part of the continuing tradition of the cloths from Tokamachi and its followers still give these crepes their unfailing support.
Prior to World War II, Tokamachi Akashi Chijimi were the fashion sensation of Japan’s summer kimonos thanks to the unique refreshing touch of their fabric. Due to austerity after the war, production of the Akashi Chijimi nearly stopped, and the production method became a unique, traditional technique of Tokamachi. Despite the reduced production, even today Tokamachi Akashi Chijimi maintain strong popular roots.
How to make
The fabric pattern of Toukamachi Akashi Chijimi is produced in exactly the same method as Toukamachi Ikat fabrics. The primary difference of Akashi Chijimi can be found it the twisting methods for its threads. First the threads are right twisted and then left twisted at 300 turns per meter, and then gathered into bundles. The bundles of raw threads are then gently dyed, while a vegetable starch of 30% to 40% of the total thread volume is rubbed in by hand to ensure even dyeing of all the threads. A traditional Haccho nenshiki silk thread plying machine is then used to twist the threads at 3,000 to 3,500 twists per meter.