Kaga Yuzen Dyeing


The origins of Kaga Yuzen go back to a type of dyeing called ume-zome, which was unique to the area. This dyeing technique already existed in the middle of the 15th century and can be verified through written records. Besides ume-zome, other very old methods of dyeing called kenbo-zome and iro-emon are also part of Kaga's legacy of dyeing and went under the general heading of okuni-zome.
Founded on these local forms of dyeing, Kaga Yuzen became established in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) with the aid of Miyazaki Yuzensai, who taught dyers the techniques of dyeing patterns in a pictorial style. It was this man who had originate yuzen dyeing techniques in Kyoto. Later in life he lived in Kanazawa and spent his time there passing on his skills.

Kaga Yuzen is particularly characterized by its pictorial style of decorations mainly using flowers and plants realistically depicted with an air of gentle refinement. In cultural terms, it also reflects the taste of the Maeda family that prospered on the well-recognized wealth of the province of Kaga and brought to the surface a warrior sense of grace and dignity heavily laced with sobriety. The cloth today is usually used for kimono or obi and also for various fashion accessories.


A characteristic of Kaga Yuzen is the subdued and realistic natural plant motifs used. The regional Maeda Family culture from a prosperous past known as Kaga Hyakumangoku is strongly reflected in the restrained yet samurai-like elegance that can be found in the work.

How to make

Pure white silk material is sketched with designs using a blue liquid from the asiatic dayflower, and then fine lines of glue are put down to resist the ink and colors are applied by hand using chemical dyes and pigments. After dyeing, the fabric is steamed to set the dye. Finally, dye and glue left behind are washed away with water. Another method is to use a stencil to apply glue and then print the fabric, which is called itaba yuzen.