What Kumihimo Braiding Can do for the Future
Crafts Combining Tradition and Revolution
Ryukobo, the leading artisans ofkumihimobrading in Tokyo, makesobi-shimefor traditional Japanese garments, and at the same time produces new products utilizingkumihimobraiding. They create items with “utilitarian beauty”, such as umbrellas, shoes, pens, and chairs, the later of which they make in cooperation with artisans of metal from Tsubame-Sanjo. “Facing new challenges and working together with people from other fields makes me happy. Combining beauty and utility is important to the future ofkumihimobraiding,” says Ryuta Fukuda, who represents the third generation of the business.
He says, “I’m working hard at my craft, headed for a future where tradition and revolution come together. For example, until now I have been using pure silk, but more recently I’m using nickel copper wire and acrylic fiber, non-flammable fiber, reflective twisted yarn, and more. Utilizing new materials with traditional techniques allows me to create new things. I feel here are unlimited possibilities in this process, and am always excited when doing my work.”
Traditional Techniques Give Us Possibilities for the Future
Each type ofkumihimobraiding has its own history and story. There is a type used in holiday wear for festive occasions, and there is also a type used in outfits suited for battle, such as weapons and armor; each variety has its own story, and is suited to its user in its own way. Making proposals about types of braid, such as cylindrical or flat, based on usage, is made possible at Ryukobo through their ability to dye the fabrics and produce them to completion from any of their assembly stands.
At present, Ryuta is working on a strap that changes from a cylindrical braid to a flat braid midway down. “I’m making a flowing line, where the braiding changes about eight times throughout, without changing the amount of thread. A lot of technique is packed into its 5cm width.” His crafts express countless new possibilities, and contain technique and spirit within the space of a few centimeters. “A skilled technique creates opportunities to move forward into the future. It helps us to rethink current braiding, and I think there is a lot I can do to bring everyone closer to ‘chic’ items,” he said passionately.