Kyoto Yuzen Dyeing

Although dyeing techniques had existed since the 8th century, it is said that the yuzen technique of painting dye directly onto cloth was established by Miyazaki Yuzensai, a popular fan painter living in Kyoto toward the end of the 17th century. He introduced his own style of painting as a way of rendering pattern and this led to the birth of this handpainted dyeing technique.
A multicolored yuzen was used to apply painterly designs to kimono cloths and grew in stature from the middle of the 18th century as merchant culture flourished. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), utsushi yuzen was developed using stencils to create these distinctive designs.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Kyo Yuzen, with its rich variety of motifs drawn from nature has become synonymous with the Japanese kimono. And, despite an extensive use of color, there is still within the noble tenor of the designs a special aesthetic quality that has been nurtured over the thousand years of the history of Kyoto.


It’s not an exaggeration to say that Kyo-yuzen designs reproducing flowers, birds and landscapes have become synonymous with Japanese kimonos. Noble and graceful in spite of employing a multitude of different colors, Kyo-yuzen color patterns beautifully bring to life Kyoto’s millenary history.

How to make

Kyo-yuzen involves hand-painting or stencil-dyeing patterns on pure silk through as many as 14 required stages, based on a minute division of roles. Kyo-yuzen designs employ a multitude of patterns and colors. Kyo-yuzen techniques are divided into the two large categories of tegaki-yuzen (hand-painting) and kata-yuzen (stencil-dyeing). Techniques can be further classified into those which came from Japan and those introduced from abroad.