Nishiki with Tatsumura Koho in Kyoto

I had the opportunity to visit Tatsumura Koho’s workshop in Kyoto during my August trip to Japan in 2009. This workshop makes Nishiki style Orimono, which is a type of Japanese weaving.

Tatsumura Koho explaining the Genji Nishiki piece

Nishiki orimono is extremely high quality, extremely beautiful, and therefore extremely expensive. If you can get a chance to visit their workshop I would highly recommend it. They seem to be open to giving tours, and they have a gift shop inside, so I bet they would be receptive if you just gave them a call and said you were interested. My visit was arranged as part of a study tour.

Tatsumura-san told us that creating the Genji piece was quite a challenge. The biggest issue wasn’t weaving the piece or creating the art itself, but it was doing the research to gather enough information so that the scene from Genji Monogatari could be created as accurately as possible.

Scene from Genji Monogatari (Click to Enlarge)

Not only was general accuracy an issue, the scene needed to be vague enough as to not attract complaints from the literary academic community. For example, special care was taken so that the kimono you see in the picture used colors that could have been worn during any season. There were special rules about the different styles and colors of kimono that would have historically been in which season, but the exact time that this scene in Genji Monogatari took place is not clearly known and apparently still debated in academic circles. Therefore, they chose a kimono color and style scene that arguably could have been used in a variety of situations and at any time of the year.

Nishiki Neckties I can't afford

This is a picture from the gift shop I mentioned. Even the neckties were way out of my price range (about $150 USD). Pretty awesome though. Someday… someday…

This is a piece depicting a bonsai tree. If you didn’t already, click the Genji Piece above so you can get a close up look at how intricate the weaving is on the orimono, it’s really amazing.

The gold color in this piece is literally gold.

This piece is more abstract, but actually uses gold in the piece itself, if I remember correctly it cost more than 10,000 USD. Fancy stuff!

You can see more of Tatsumura-san’s work on this official museum site. There is also an online gift shop where you can get those too-awesome neckties I mentioned!