What is Tango Chirimen

What is Tango Chirimen

Tango Chirimen is a post-dyed fabric woven in the Tango region of Kyoto Prefecture. Tango Chirimen have fine bumps called Shibo on the fabric surface by using non-twisted warp yarns and high-twisted weft yarns (raw yarns twisted strongly (about 3,000 times per meter)), which produce fine bumps through refining process.

These bumps make the fabric wrinkle-resistant and supple. Furthermore the colors produced when the fabric is dyed are very beautiful because of the reflection of light from the bumps. Currently, it produces about 70% of kimono fabric (white fabric for kimono) in Japan.


Photo courtesy of Tango Textile Industry Association


History of Tango Chirimen

Tango region has a history of being a silk weaving center since the Nara period (over 1,300 years ago). In the Tango region, the winter monsoon blows from autumn to winter, and it rains and snows on and off so often that people say, "Don't forget your umbrella even if you forget your lunch box." This kind of climate is suitable for weaving, as moisture and water are necessary for weaving to prevent threads from breaking.

Chirimen fabric originated in China, was introduced to Japan in the late 16th century, and was produced almost exclusively in Nishijin district, Kyoto as "Hign-class Chirimen" until the early 18th century, although Chirinmen in Tango was called "Plain Chirimen".

In order to overcome the crisis that was impoverishing people's lives due to the sluggish sales of silk fabrics in Tango, which coincided with a bad harvest in agriculture, one of the silk merchants went to Nishijin, Kyoto, to pray by doing fasting twice at the local Zenjoji Temple, and after training and research in Nishijin, Kyoto, he mastered the production technique of Chirimen weaving and brought it back to Tango. This is said to be the origin of Tango Chirimen.

Later, a large fire broke out in Nishijin which was the main production center of weaving in Kyoto, and most of the weaving machines burned down. Resulting in a shortage of Chirimen and a rush of orders to Tango, Tango became the largest producer of silk fabrics in Japan.


The photos show the view of the weaving process and the entrance of Yoshimura Shoten, which weaves the Tango Chirimen of Wa-Denim.


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