Japan 1 – Nishijin Textile Centre

Japan

This summer we spent a glorious two weeks travelling in Japan. This was a trip my husband and I had been planning for years and we had reached the point where we just had to make it happen. In addition to visiting many of Japan’s historic craft textile areas we also saw many examples of other traditional crafts; also beautiful scenery, exotic gardens, ancient castles and temples, plus lots of fabulous food!

Sadly the best textile museums we visited did not allow photography which limits my ability to share all I saw.

Nishijin Textile Centre

The Nishijin district of Kyoto has been home to fine fabric weavers since the fifteenth century. The Nishijin Textile Centre is dedicated to this great woven textile tradition.

One of the many beautiful looms on display at the Nishijin Textile Centre

One of the many beautiful looms on display at the Nishijin Textile Centre

An exhibit showing the life cycle of the silkworm

An exhibit showing the life cycle of the silkworm

The museum also has models of many types of loom

The museum also has models of many types of loom

Clearly this was a venture that was set up with a grand vision but there is now a slight air of a place that has seen better days. The Centre has some good educational exhibits, examples and models of many types of loom and a gallery with examples of traditional Kyoto weaving (no photography).

This is a commercial machine-embroidered kimono in the style of traditional Nishijin weaving

This is a commercial machine-embroidered kimono in the style of traditional Nishijin weaving

Detail of the modern kimono fabric

Detail of the modern kimono fabric

There are also a large number of looms used for teaching and demonstrations but these have a sense of being squashed into a corner by the large sales area stocked with very expensive but not always high quality Nishjin weaving souvenirs.

Demonstration of weaving on a Jacquard (punched-card) loom

Demonstration of weaving on a Jacquard (punched-card) loom

The Centre has many interesting machines and exhibits but they are crammed together to make space for the large souvenir shop

The Centre has many interesting machines and exhibits but they are crammed together to make space for the large souvenir shop

Rather than people interested in woven textiles the Centre now seems heavily focussed on the endless stream of coach tours that disembark for twenty minutes, take a few photos of the “Kimono Fashion Show”, buy some gifts then depart to make way for the next coach. So far as we could tell, at least 95% of the visitors did not bother visiting the gallery and museum floor at all.

Sadly, the "Kimono Fashion Show" did not feature traditional Nishijin weaving. Many kimono were in commercial printed fabrics

Sadly, the “Kimono Fashion Show” did not feature traditional Nishijin weaving. Many kimono were in commercial printed fabrics

Another model in the kimono show

Another model in the kimono show

A Nishijin weaving loom

A Nishijin weaving loom

If you manage to visit Kyoto you will never be short of places to see there but if you are interested in textiles The Nishijin Centre is worth a visit despite its slightly over-commercialized atmosphere.

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2 thoughts on “Japan 1 – Nishijin Textile Centre

  1. Pingback: Japan 2 – Matsumoto Castle | Wai-Yuk Kennedy Textile Art

  2. Pingback: Japan 3 – Kanazawa | Wai-Yuk Kennedy Textile Art

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