The origins of Shinshu Tsumugi go back to a silk cloth called ashiginu that was woven in the Nara period (710-794). Because of the rivalry and encouragement that the clans in the province of Shinshu were given, sericulture was very popular and the production of pongee throughout the province flourished, and every year large quantities of cloth were dispatched to Kyoto.
The production of this cloth then fell into gradual decline by the 1920s, only enough was being made to keep the skills associated with this cloths alive. After World War II, great efforts were made to revive the fortunes of this cloth not only by the prefectural authorities but by local authorities and communities, and production once again flourished throughout the region.
The making of cloth for top quality kimono followed and served to raise people's awareness of this fine cloth. Most of the cloth produced in various colors and patters is for kimono or obi. One extremely special cloth is woven from a silk obtained exclusively from wild silk worms.
The primary Shinshu tsumugi products are fabrics for kimonos and obi, with a wide variety of colors and patterns. Wild oak silk kimonos, which are 100% produced from the cocoons of Japanese wild oak silk moths gathered in the mountains, can only be found in Shinshu.
How to make
Shinshu tsumugi is a plain woven textile made of pre-dyed threads. The warp threads are made from either raw silk, wild oak silk, dupion silk taken from cocoons containing two pupa, or thread spun from silk floss. The weft threads are made from either dupion silk or silk floss, and are woven into the warp threads using a hand thrown shuttle. Ikat patterns are dyed by tying the dye resistant onto the threads by hand.