Kumihimo and the history of Domyo

Kumihimo history 

Kumihimo in Japan has been deeply involved in various fields such as religion, rituals, performing arts, clothing, and furnishings, creating new uses in keeping with the times, and developing techniques and designs accordingly.
Full-fledged development of Kumihimo began in the Asuka and Nara periods, when continental culture was introduced.

Asuka/Nara period

The Vitality of Beginnings Transmitted to Tenpyo Land

Kumihimo, which was introduced from the continent, is thought to have taken root in Japan during the Nara period. Braids such as Nara-gumi, Sasanami-gumi, Kara-gumi, and Yasuda-gumi are preserved in Nara's Shosoin and Horyu-ji temples. Kumihimo of this period is characterized by its boldness and generous colors.


Heian period

Japanese skill and grace to be poured into

In contrast to the Nara period, when people enjoyed the basic braiding methods, the Heian period pursued a more diverse range of expressions.
It was also during this period that he created new braids by synthesizing several previous techniques, and also developed the technique of tiered dyeing. It can be used as a cord used by aristocrats to hang their swords, cords for weapons, cords for sutra scrolls, cords for scroll scrolls, and cords for hanging amulets around the neck.


Kamakura/Muromachi period 

Deeper and more complex challenge to creativity

In the Kamakura period, various new braids were created using the braid techniques that had been studied in the Heian period.
Kikkougumi is a representative braid that was born in this era. It was widely used as a string for armor. In addition, the cords of the Saidaijigumi and Chioningumi have been placed in the bodies of the Buddha statues and still exist today.
It seems that no new braiding methods were invented in the Muromachi period, but the advanced techniques from the Kamakura period were inherited.

Edo Period 

Monozukuri by modern people Rebirth and innovation of ancient times

Kumihimo, which declined for a while during the Sengoku period, began to flourish again in the Edo period. It seems that it was not an ordinary thing to revive the technology that had been cut off once.
It is worth mentioning that the main use of Kumihimo is as sageo. This is a string attached to the sword, and is finished to approximately the same dimensions as today's obijime. For this reason, the various shapes of braids that existed before the Edo period were transformed into shapes suitable for the lower straps, and new braids were created.
Kumikata created in the Edo period includes Kainokuchigumi, Koraigumi, and Jinaikigumi.
Also, the technique of ayadashi was born during this period. This is a technique to put out patterns and letters on the braid. Documents of the time tell us that various patterns were created in conjunction with Edo's chic culture.


After the Meiji era 

Transformation to the modern age Uninterrupted technology and history

The demand for cords and bundled threads, which accounted for the majority of kumihimo products until the Edo period, suddenly disappeared with the ban on swords after the Meiji Restoration. Kumihimo merchants, who lost most of their jobs, found a way out in obi-jime, which was used to hold obi sashes for women's kimonos, which was gradually becoming mainstream at the time. Through the Meiji period, Odaikomusubi was established for women's kimono, and braided sashes became indispensable for kimono, and sashes came to occupy the majority of kumihimo products.

History of Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo

Edo period 

Ikenohata, where Domyo Honten is located, has long been a bustling town where the townspeople have formed at the base of Yushima Tenjin. In the Edo period, Kan'eiji Temple, which was likened to Enryakuji Temple on Mt.
In the Edo period, shops dealing in braided cords were included in the category of business called yarn dealers, along with shops dealing in twisted yarn. Since its founding in 1652, Domyo has continued to make a living as a yarn dealer. There is no clear record of its founding, but it is said that a feudal retainer of the Takada domain in Echigo quit his samurai role and became a townsman and opened the shop.
Then, in the middle of the 18th century, the head of the family at that time took the name Domyo Shinbei the first. He has passed through the generations and is now the tenth generation. At that time, there was a great demand for braided cords as the cords and handle threads for samurai swords, and it is said that there were many thread dealers in the city of Edo. And it was mainly the craftsmen of the thread dealers who made the braids distributed there. In addition, one of the leaders in braiding technology research was the samurai of Edo. At that time, the samurai were taught that they should make their own weapons by themselves, and braiding braids was considered one of the skills of the samurai. Kumihimo techniques described in military science texts such as "Togeki Kyuyo" and "Hyakko Hisho" are valuable materials for understanding the techniques of the time. 

Undergarment by Ayade technique
In the middle of the Edo period, the life of the samurai became difficult in contrast to the prosperity of the townspeople's culture. For economic reasons, braiding techniques were handed down as a side job for the samurai. According to his grandfather, the 7th Domyo Shinbei, his grandfather, the 5th Domyo Shinbei, often visited samurai homes around the end of the Edo period to ask for braided cords. Since the middle of the Edo period, the technique of braiding braids has been very advanced, backed by historical and technical research of the samurai, and it seems that high-quality braids began to be produced in Edo. 

5th Domyo Shinbei 


Meiji, Taisho period 

In the Meiji era, Edo changed to Tokyo, and many changes came. The number of craftsmen who colored the townspeople's culture in Edo decreased, and manufacturing shifted to heavy industrial factory production. In the Edo period, work and home were the basics, and manufacturing was actively carried out in the center of Edo. , gradually moving to the suburbs of Tokyo. Of course, some small-scale places for handicrafts remained in central Tokyo, albeit gradually decreasing in number. Tokyo has changed.
In the midst of this, Domei devoted himself to the research and production of braids while preserving the handiwork of craftsmen in Ikenohata. However, due to the ban on swords, the demand for braided cords for sword straps and handle threads disappeared, so the main product handled by thread dealers shifted to obijime, which was becoming indispensable for women's kimono. increase. In the Meiji period, narrow braids and metal fittings were mainly used for obijime, but gradually, thick and thick braids, which were also used for sword straps, came to be used as obijime. Many of the lower straps were made with the best of braiding techniques, and it was from the Meiji to Taisho eras that obi-jime became synonymous with braids.

Obijime in the early days

From its founding to the present day, Domyo is by no means a large-scale yarn dealer. In the ranking table of yarn dealers based on the trading volume of braids issued in 1878, it is on the ninth page in the front of the west. Ikebata-Nakacho The name written as Echizenya Shinbei is Domyo, and it used to be called Echizenya. As of the 10th year of the Meiji era, there were still many yarn dealers in Tokyo, from major braid shops to individual shops. If anything, Domyo was not a general store, but a store that was known only to those in the know, supported by a limited number of enthusiasts.

Yarns Sakae Ranking Table
  In the middle of the Meiji era, the influx of Western civilization and modernization had come to a halt, and it was also an era when there was a growing momentum to reconsider the splendor of Japanese culture. In such an era, even though it was attached to historical art and crafts in some way, the braid, which was not given much importance compared to the main body, has extremely high artistic value Something has been rediscovered. It seems that Tenshin Okakura, who was the center of the movement at the time, had an exchange with Domyo Shinbei 5th, and the store at that time was located near the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and artists and intellectuals from the Japan Art Institute. It seems that it was also a place like a salon where people gather. It was around the time of Domyo Shinbei VI that he began researching the cords that remain in the Shosoin. There is a story that Mori Ogai gave permission to investigate the Shosoin at the Imperial Museum.
Meiji era store
Around this time, it seems that the number of requests for work as a Kumihimo shop has increased, such as requests for the production of old treasure strings from museums, shrines and temples all over the country. Businessmen with deep knowledge of Japanese culture also came to ask for reproductions of old cords attached to their arts and crafts. In "Himo" written by Domyo Shinbei 7th, there is a story about the cords of the Itsukushima-gumi line brought in by Baron Takashi Masuda. Even so, the organization was clarified and restored.
In such an environment, Domyo has created a variety of Kumihimo based on his own aesthetic standards and released them to the world as products such as Obijime and Haorihimo. Obijime that incorporates the design of various historical braids continues to line up in stores even after nearly 100 years.

Design drawing by 6th Domyo Shinbei

 Showa period 

Entering the Showa era, the number of braids made by handwork by craftsmen decreased, and it was also an era when mass-produced braids using machines became popular. From crafts handed down secretly in craftsmen's workshops to Kumihimo as a general spread technique, Kumihimo as an industrial product was widely used along with textile technology such as textiles and knitting that had been modernized and industrialized earlier. It is now used for various purposes. However, on the other hand, hand braided braids have not been completely replaced by machine braids, and have continued to be made to this day as valuable products.

Showa prewar store

  From the prewar period in the Showa era, the 7th Domyo Shinbei brought an academic perspective to Kumihimo. Up until the 6th generation, various studies on Kumihimo had been conducted, but it was more of an extension of the handiwork of craftsmen. The main task was to look at the actual braid and reproduce its structure, color, and shape as faithfully as possible. On the other hand, Domyo Shinbei the 7th took advantage of his inherent academic knowledge and worked to classify and systematize the structure of braids and assign values. His research was carried out along with the creation of a large number of texts on Kumihimo, including his representative book "Himo", which were read and spread by many people in society. Even if only what I have left at hand, "Japanese Kumihimo", "Cultural History Essay on Japanese Cord", "Formation of Kumihimo Theory and Hope for the Archaeological World", "Japanese Craft Kumihimo", "Cultural Properties and Crafts" The relationship between Kumihimo”, and it seems that he wrote a variety of large and small papers. In such work, when I researched historical cords such as the braids of Shosoin and the braids of Chusonji Temple, I didn't just look at the thing itself and clarify the braiding method and color and aim to restore it. A viewpoint was provided to think about what kind of meaning the string has in the history of the long braid. 

Restoration imitation of Kumihimo of Shosoin
Shin-Chusonji-gumi Kumihimo, whose structure was clarified from the fragments that fit in Hidehira Fujiwara's coffin, was improved as an obijime.

  It also aimed to establish an independent traditional craft art field unique to Japan from the position of kumihimo as an accessory to artistic crafts. In this way, the direction of systematization of Kumihimo studies, including various fields such as historical theory, technology theory, and art theory, was determined, and by extension, the flow of Kumihimo research in pre-war and post-war Domyo was created. Research and study of various historical braids and elucidation of their organization have progressed over the years, and have continued to this day.
post war shop
Domyo is a Kumihimo shop that was founded in the Edo period, but we have been researching and researching historical Kumihimo that has been scattered all over the country since the Meiji period, while following the flow of classical research by samurai since the Edo period. In modern times, the braided cords made by Domyo are used in a wide variety of ways, from cords for everyday use such as sash belts and cords for haori coats, cords for extraordinary ceremonial occasions, to ties and accessories for Western clothing. All products are positioned on the tradition of Japanese Kumihimo. 
Showa era store

Heisei period 

Domyo is located in Ikenohata in Ueno, Tokyo. The new head office, which was completed in February 2016, is a five-story building that expresses the design of traditional Japanese architecture with concrete construction. We aimed to create an architecture that is modern yet classic, functional yet emotional, and has various ambiguities. The Kumihimo archive, the dyeing room, the design room, and the workshop, each floor carries out the Kumihimo process in order from the upper floor, and the completed Kumihimo is sold at the store on the first floor, just like a tool for making Kumihimo. It works as a building.

Current store appearance

Current store view