Tokamachi City Museum

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Permanent Exhibitions|Tokamachi City Museum

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The Flame-style Pottery (National Treasure)

Life in a Jomon Village

Death and Burial

Oida Castle and Date-Hachimankan Ruins

Echigo Chijimi

Winter Tools

Echigo Angin

Silk Goods

Botanical Garden and Iseki Park

Silk Goods

Towards the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), Japanese weavers had begun to produce silk fabrics using a treadle-operated loom called a takabata. In Tokamachi, the textile industry made a swift transition from hemp to silk fabric production, and progressed to factory-based manufacture, later on during the Meiji period (1868-1912). (Photo on the right: a late-Meiji textile factory).

In 1990, a great fire destroyed a large part of the town. While working to rebuild the damaged areas, Tokamachi established a school of fabric dyeing, and continued to develop new products including Akashi-chijimi and Isho Shirokiji - this led to it earning its name as a town of silk textiles. In 1940, a nationwide ban on luxury good production dealt a heavy blow to Tokamachifs textile industry.

Following the conclusion of World War II, textile manufacturers in Tokamachi began to develop a range of new kimono lines including Tokamachi Gasuri, Majorika Omeshi (pictured on the left) and Kuroe Haori.

Then, between 1955 and 1965, many companies forayed into piece-dyed textile production. Between 1965 and 1975, Tokamachi had established itself as a town of both weaving and dyeing; it continued to record large growth.

(Permanent Exhibition Guide/Tokamachi City Museum 2014 Edition)
The Era of Akashi-Chijimi

At the start of the Meiji period (1868-1912), the mainstream of Tokamachifs silk textile industry was a range of thin semitransparent silk crepe kimono ideal for summer-use known as sukiya.

1878 saw the production of hira-sukiya, a fabric as thin as the wings of a cicada. Following this, weavers developed an even finer fabric called yori-sukiya and then in 1888, kabe-sukiya, which is woven from oppositely twined spirally wound fine threads.

Meanwhile, 1888 also saw silk crepe fabrics imported to Tokamachi from the Nishijin area of Kyoto. These originated in Harima Akashi (today known as Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture). Weavers in Tokamachi sought to make improvements to these textiles leading to the development of "Chijimanu Akashi" and gNurenai Akashih. (photo above: Akashi-chijimi on display at the Tokamachi City Museum)

In 1929, a folk song about these textiles titled "Tokamachi Kouta" was released. It became a big hit, boosting the promotion of the textiles. Akashi-chijimi became the centerpiece of Tokamachi's silk good production.

(Permanent Exhibitions Guidebook/ Tokamachi City Museum 2014 Edition)