Past Issues of Ichiroya News Letters
No57 -3 May 2004
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA'S News Letter No 57. We are in the midst of `GoldenWeek', the spring holidays started from Apr 29 and end on May 5(Children's Day). You may think we are workaholic and do not take so many holidays. The reason we did not take holidays this time is, the monthly auctions. They are held on the certain date no matter what days they are...we did not want to miss the auctions which are held as usual during this weekend, so we decided we postpone our own holidays until summer.
During this Golden Week, many people took a trip overseas or in Japan. However not everyone could take a long holidays but there are many people who could only take a couple of days or even one day off.

We would like to introduce the most popular place people visit recently. It is called `Food Theme Park'. Popular Japanese food like `ra-men'(noodles) or sushi are loved by everyone and `Food Theme Park' is where many restaurants gathered ( with one theme -like ra-men or gyoza ) in one place and the whole place look like a part of town or city. Here is one of the famous Food Theme Park called `Men darake' in Osaka.(`Men' is noodle and darake means `all over'! )

You can see their eye-catching dish of each restaurants by clicking each corner. 2 million people visited this place in the past 6 months and many of them are repeated customers. The company who started this project is watching how much each restaurant sell--and give them advice. Customers can vote and also write guest questionnaire --and the restaurants who did not sell very well are replaced by another new restaurants. The restaurants are from all over Japan, so you can try the ra-men of the famous local restaurants --not only one but as much as you want.
There are other food like, gyoza or sweets too and the famous food theme park called `sweets forest" is always crowded by sweet tooth who enjoy delicious sweets from all over Japan.

The other food them parks are:

Gyoza stadium
Ramen village
Ramen street
Ramen complex
Sushi museum and so on.

When some of these 'Food Theme Park' opened, some marketing people(include me) thought it was difficult to run these part for long time. Because if there were only one kind of food, and most of them were low price, such parks had not to be able to get constant marquee and enough sales volume. I also thought the 'Ramen Park' had to fall to the ground, but the reality comes different.

If you have a chance to come to Japan, we would like to advise to visit these food theme park.

No56 -26 April 2004
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA'S News Letter No.56.
Here in Japan, Golden Week holidays are coming. This year it begins on May 1 and ends May 5. For many people, Golden Week Holidays of this year has five holidays. Our website store will be open during these holidays except Sunday (May 2). Some of our staffs are going to take holidays, so the listing items may be less than usual, but we will list and ship the items as usual. We are going to take two long holidays in August and New Year Week, but we are going not to close our shop in other terms. Always I(Ichiro) say to staffs that we are the retailer, so it is usual that retailers work when other people take holidays. My family is familiar with it for a long time. Because I had been worked for Daimaru Department Store, so I rarely could take day off from work at Sunday and national holidays. We thank for we can take off on Sunday now.
Yesterday I attended one of the most famous and oldest kimono auction in Kyoto ( 'Kogirekai') . Fortunately I got some rare pieces, and we will list them this week. There are some famous kimono auctions, and Kogirekai is the most famous because lots of antique kimono and kimono fabrics are offered every month. 'Ko-gire' means ' Old-fabrics', and sales most in Japan. Old and valuable items are pouring from all corners of Japan to Kogirekai, and almost all antique kimono fabric dealers attend and bid at Kogirekai.
If I write some topics for the readers about the auctions,
- Meisen kimono with rare design (and in excellent condition) were very high ( I saw the one sold at 3000 yen at contract price a few months ago! ), but the prices are becoming moderate than before.
- Chirimen (crepe) kimono is very expensive, and the price is rising even now. Some antique fabrics like 'Sarasa Cotton' become under 1/2 compared with the prices of during the years of the asset-inflated economy. You must be astonished if you see the very small 'Edo Chirimen Fabrics' are bided more than several dollars. Yesterday I saw one chirimen juban was bided up to $3,700. Winner sell their chirimen fabrics to kimono doll maker(designer). Making kimono doll with vintage chirimen silk is the very gracious and expensive hobby of rich women here in Japan. And they cut the chirimen kimono for their dolls, vintage chirimen kimono is reducing. Now the chirimen kimono become very less, and too expensive, kimono doll maker become to buy 'kinsha'(more fine crepe silk) chirimen, and kinsha kimono with small and colorful pattern are also becoming expensive.
-Younger bidders are increasing. First generation of vintage kimono sellers become nearly 55-60 years old, and their daughters become adults. They can feel what young customers likes and wants, and have fresh sense of kimono wearing. They sometimes bid higher than the first generation's bid, and astonish them. Young generation tends to select kimono with only design and condition, and they sell them with unique and fantastic coordinations, which the first generation can not do. Really it is young generation who rediscover the beauty of meisen kimono. Old generation always say ' There was no one who wanted meisen in old days. We could buy bundles of meisen at only a few thousands yen! I had better buy and keep them! '
- Vintage and used kimono retailers/dealers are increasing. Vintage kimono auctions are also increasing all over in Japan. Reasons of increasing are :
1)Other antique items like china, tansu, kakejiku and others are not good sale because of the long depression. I presume the customers of these antique items are men ordinarily, and men must cut their budget for their hobby at first.
So the antique dealers who didn't sell kimono come to deal kimono for their lives.
2)For the depression all used-items market like book, CD, golf club, car, house and so one are expanding. Many people become to think used items are also good if the prices become very reasonable only because the items are used by other persons.
3)Internet Auction become very popular, and selling used items through internet become very familiar to the ordinary young people. Like e-bay auction in USA and English-speaking world, Yahoo Japan auction is recording highest sales each year.
4)Young people are rediscovering the vintage kimono style as unique and cool fashions. Especially in Tokyo, we can see girls and young women in kimono more often than before. They ignore the traditional kimono wearing rules, and enjoy their creative wearing. One famous kimono seller says that kimono wearing is 'healing cosplay' for young people, and I think I agree this idea.

Tomorrow I am going to attend kimono auction in Okayama. I must drive three - four hours also tomorrow. Auctioneer of Okayama auction is my mentor. It is not so big auction, only 25-30 bidders attend every month. On the same day one of the big auction in Kyoto is hold, so most of the major dealers go to Kyoto. But I find that the prices are less expensive than other auctions ( because the major bidders don't come), and sometimes the very rare items are sold, which are from that rural district. And on 28 I must attend a auction in Kanie, and it is even farther than Okayama. Every moths I am very busy attending the auctions, I must attend 5 in last ten days of the every month.
I will get more valuable items at these auctions also this month!
The weather became perfect for fishing today----but I have a strong will and will go to auctions:-)
Don't miss it!

No55 -19 April 2004
Hello from Japan! This is Ichiro, from Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya. Here in Japan, it is getting warmer and warmer, and we almost need to turn on the air conditioner of our office. After Yuka Yoshikawa san joined us, one young man joined us a week ago. He is 21 years old, and is trying to be the professional drummer. When I talked with him and heard his goal-through phone,We imagined he might has blonde dyed long hair, wears splashily and put on many silver accessesories as a rock star. But now we surname him as 'kuma'(bear). As present his hair is black, and no silver accessoriesin his face or hands, and he is running everyday to reduce his weight. He is the only male in our staffs, and knows much about the computer. He will be the great help when- I (Ichiro) am out for buying. Besides him, Yukari-chan is the actress in the bud. A week later her drama group is going to give a public performance, and she takes a week off to prepare the performance. Yuka Yoshikawa !
san wants to be a book editor,and goes to editor's school a few times a week. Working with them who have their dreams is great joy to us.
Today I would like to write about Japanese characters. If you get some information about it, it would help you to get some information from the lapels. Someone may think it is incredible, but Japanese has three kinds of characters. It is just like you write text with three kinds of alphabets. So the text is the mix of three kinds of characters. 'Hiragana' and 'Katakana' have 50 characters each, which mean the pronunciation. All Japanesese pronunciation can be written with Hiragana or Katakana. ( But its total number is 100! Too many than 26 alphabet! )

Hiragana and Katakana have different origins, and now we use Katakana mainly for the words of foreign origin. For example, 'polyester' and 'rayon' has foreign origin, so the they are written in Katakana.
And if we write your name in Japanese, we use katakana because of the same reason. We often see the 'polyester' in the lapels, knowing its character will help you to know the textile. Here is the katakana character examples. ( You can write your name in katakana like the examples. )

We have another characters 'Kanji'. It has origin in Chinese, and there remains many similarity between them. Pronunciation of Japanese and Chinese are different totally. Japanese and Chinese can not speak each other in their native language, but we may be able to communicate by means of kanji writing.

Fantastically kanji character is picture writing, and each kanji has a meaning. For examples, kanji of 'one' ' two' ' three' are written only the horizontal lines of their numbers. Here is the kanji character of 'ki', which means tree. Do you think its shape is similar with real tree? And if we arrange the two 'ki', it become 'hayashi', which means grove, and if we add one more 'ki' on it, it becomes 'mori', which means forest. How easy it is!

But some of the kanji characters have intricate shape and meanings. For examples, here is the kanji characters about textiles. 'Ito' (thread) has the shape of the spun threads, and 'kinu'(silk) and 'ori'(weave) 'shibori' have 'ito' in its parts. We can not explain the all kanji character's origin here, but please imagine the meaning from its shape. Mostly it will be the right.

When we write Japanese, we ordinarily write kanji ( if the kanji character exist, and fortunately we remember it. Total number of kanji said to be more than 50000! At the elementary school and junior high school we learn 1945, which thought to be minimum kanji for ordinary life. ), and katakana for foreign origin words, and we use hiragana for the rest parts.
My Japanese teacher at high school said Japanese was cockamamie words! Do you agree it?

To close this news letter, I will mention about our name. My name is Wada Ichiro and our family name Wada is quite popular name. Wada is written by two kanji characters. `Wa' means peace or harmony and `da(ta)' is rice pond. Actually there are many names with `da(ta)'. Yuka's maiden name is Sugino and `sugi' is cedar and `no' is field. It is always a big job for parents to decide their children's name and they contemplate and choose a kanji carefully for their children.

No54 -12 April 2004
We are very relieved to hear that three Japanese hostages will be released within 24 hours. We would like to thank you very much for your warm messages about hostage crisis. We are anxious for the three people to come back to their families as soon as possible and so are other hostages--they should be released immediately.

Thank you for the many replies to the previous news letter. I should add GREAT THANKS at the end of our story. As we dared to start our business, we had to create many inconvenience for customers.For examples, we couldn't accept PAYPAL, we couldn't offer enough variety of kimono, shopping cart system was not convenient, and we didn't have search systems. Fortunately we received a lot of advice from you, and we could add some improvement to the systems and line of items. Always we thank you very much for your attention and advices,which made us improving our work. Now we are planning to improve our systems by the middle of May. We will arrange the category, and make 'Folkcraft' category, which contains vintage cotton, kasuri, 'asa'(Japanese hemp), tsutsugaki, sakiori and so on. Now above items are scattered in the several categories, and we notice that it is very inconvenient for the customers. We are also going to fix the shopping cart ( we will make alive th!
e links of items you bought, and make system to correspond the simultaneous orders). We are going to renew more systems for the improve the efficiency. We are very happy if we could offer more convenient shopping experience by this renewal.
I would like to write one more theme - safety. We have been using 'Kenshinki' ( a metal sensor). All kimono are slide through this sensor to check to see if there is no needles left inside the kimono. Uni san who is in charge of packing make all the kimono go through this sensor before shipping the kimono. Sometimes the machine peeps, and Uni san searches the needles in the kimono. Because kimono are hand sewn, sometimes sewers leave the needles inside of kimono by mistake. We never want to send a kimono which has needle in side which may cause a harm to our customers. Some kimono or obi are thick(like uchikake or maru obi) and it is hard to feel the the needles beyond the thick textile. We hear the peep sound but sometimes it takes quite a long time to feel and take out the needles. On the small paper Uni san put the needles which she found as boots. She finds a needle almost every three days. She is very good at taking out the needles carefully.

The most important thing on e-commerce should be the safety of each customer's information. We are taking great care in keeping customer's private information. We are under contract with most major card processing company 'Zeus'. They are the almost only company in Japan, who has original secure card processing system, and they also wholesale their systems to other processing company. Because of their secure system, we can charge through the credit card without knowing the full card number of the customers. There are some cases we have to ask for the whole numbers of the credit card from customers, but we take great care to keep the information - Our server is the exclusive use, and no one can intrude our server, because administration zone can be accessed only our office IP address. About the information on the papers, we keep it in the firm coffer. Coffers and our office are monitored by Secom Co., Ltd.(No1 Security Firm in Japan), and also all my portfolio are in there.
I would like to let you know one more matter. We incorporated ICHIROYA as a private limited company in December 2003. Thank again for your help and advice and shopping from us again. We would like to do our very best to continue offering more cheerful, convenient and safe shopping experience.

No53 -5 April 2004
It is really warm these days, and I sometimes imagine how is the valleies, I used to go fishing until three years ago. When I was a office worker of department store, I was crazy at fishing, and almost every holiday I went fishing to the valleis and lakes leaving Yuka and daughters at home.
I was a workaholic, and took only a holiday during two weeks for long time. But the reason I had to become crazy at fishing was not because of my hard work, but it may be because I didn't like my work from bottom of my heart.
I would like to write the reason and way we had started our business.
As some customers already know I had worked for Daimaru department store for 19 years. I have got many know-how of the retail and management through the career.In some years I really enjoyed my work, and works of some years were very difficult for me. When I was a fashion promotion staff during last three years of my carrier, to be honest I coudn't enjoy my work. I didn't have interested in the young women's fashin, but I had to discuss the fashion trends of the next season . Whether the skirt length will become longer or shorter ? What color wil be IN next autmn-winter seaon? Such discussions with younger staffs were fatigue for me, though I knowed it was very very important for the fashion business. I prefer the items, which are made by artisan than industrial pruducts. Of course the main works at department store is selling the industry products. But when I was a manager of Japanese table ware division, or the manager of the sales promotion planning team, I sometimes had chances to sell crafts. I often visited arisans, and heard their explanations, looked their incredibly skilled technique and admired them. Crafts inspired with the artisan's spirits moved my heart, and selling the hand-maded merchandises seemed to be very valuable for me.
If I continued to work for the department store, I knowed that I had to take more distance from the crafts, and I had to continue to pay attention to the girl's current fashions. I didn't have the confidence to do well, and first of all I couldn't like it.
There was another reason. The company begun to strengthen the centralized management, the occasions were increasing, which I had to order my staffs to do what I could not believe good. I did have the confidence that I could keep working for the company until age limit, and get decent wages and posts ( even not No1).
I was wondering wheter I should live in safe with doing what I didn't really like or I should start my own business betting all our life.
Finally I quitted my job.I was 45 years old, married and have two daughters. I hoped to do some works which related to crafts, but Ididn't have the practical idea and plans. Already I had worked nearly 20 years for the department store, so fiends, coleage and parents were all worried about me and our family.
In the whole world, Yuka was the only person who believed I could do my own company.
Afterwards I came to know it is because she is always too babe in the woods, but her approval cheered me up greatly.
I retired before the plan about the new work was fixed, so we wondered what and how to start our business for a quite long time. The company gave me the retirement payment, but of course it was not enough to make gorgeous store. We never could mistake for our daughters.
At first we planned to make a shop to sell the ethnic items. I planned to sell the hand crafts from Indonesia and other Asian countries. We found a vacant store between our home and downtown, which seems to fit our plan. It is located near the railway station and department store, and has very high ceiling, which would allow the bold fabric display.
Really we almost made a deposite on the store. But I felt slightly uneasy, and I sheduled the meeting with the public management consultant on the morning of the contract day. The consultant heard my presentation, and said ' You must fail. Stop the contract.' As he said, we were too vague about our items and customers. And we were going to put in too much desperately.
We returned to the starting point again. I had to have restless days one more month. I prepared to work hard, but I didn't know what I should do. It was more tought situation than hand working days of my career.
Finally I prepeared myself for starting small business even from the roadside stand. One day I visited a large temple market with Yuka. I wanted to get some idea of the items and low cost selling method.
I already know kimono as craft, but at that temple market we came across the vintage kimono in the true sense of the term. For our eyes ordinary vintage kurotomesode looks very great! What a fantasitic artisan's work it is! And the prices were very cheep compaired with its valuable hand work.
We convinced that we could sell vintage kimono to all over the world through internet. Yuka insisted on doing vintage kimono business, and I agreed. We ran to the bank, and withdrew 50000 yen, and bought kimono as much as we could.
I brought the kimono to my mother Michiko, and asked her their textiles, technique and age. Michiko had sewn kimono for long years and has rich knowledge of kimono. We listed them in e-bay auction, and they are sold imediately!
Our business started this way three years ago. And now I really love my work and my life.

No52 -29 March 2004
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No53.
It was blessed with a fine weather today. Cherry blossoms around here started blooming with the bright and warm sunshine.
We must admit we are all crazy about cherry blossoms--they are not just one of the spring flowers but they seem to bring us a very special moment of the year and everyone has some sweet memories with cherry blossoms. Ichiro said he remembers his mother's black haori she was wearing for his entrance ceremony of elementary schools with cherry blossoms. I too have a photo with my mother on my entrance ceremony of elementary school--she is wearing a black haori over a pastel color semi-formal kimono. Most of mothers were wearing black haori to attend school ceremonies. The entrance ceremonies of most of schools are around first week of April. When children became six years old, they enter local elementary schools(some children go to private schools). Randoseru(school bag) are prepared by the children's parents or grand parents.
We can see the little new students in a little bigger uniform and a shiny randoseru on the back in April and they make us smile and remind us of our childhood. Almost all schools have cherry trees in the yard or around the entrance. These places become a cherry blossom viewing spot sometimes.
You may be surprised to find flood of information relating to cherry blossoms during this season. If you search with the word `Ohanami'(flower viewing), there are many website telling the locations and the condition of the flowers--in details. A big park as Osaka castle park or other famous places are crowded with people but not only those places but local places as elementary school yard or small parks in the neighborhood also can be a very nice spot to see cherry blossoms.
I have read an essay on the news paper. It was written by a career woman of a big company. She wrote, she used to find excuse for not going to see cherry blossoms, she thought she was too busy for it. But she realized if she has 30 years more to live, there is only 30 times she can see these blooming sakura(cherry blossoms). When she thought the sakura of this year is one of the 30 times, she felt she should never miss any of them and made up her mind to go to see sakura every year no matter how busy she was. You may think sakura is only one of the beautiful spring flowers and nothing more but seeing sakura each year may mean a great gift of hope of another new year for us. Another person was writing somewhere -- she was walking a dog along the path with cherry trees full of blossoms, Suddenly strong wind blew and all the petals swirled down and she was standing in the falling petals. She thought she was dreaming. Some other people there also were just standing there --and they were just stunned and felt like they were taken into heaven.
They bloom and go so quickly. Their life is so brief. We seem to love the transient beauty. The way they go seems to appeal to our hearts so much.

A president of one company told me once, the kind of person he wants to hire most is a person who can take a best spot of cherry blossom viewing for him. He must have been joking but it is true in a way. The new workers of the companies may be asked to save some space for the people of the companies under nice cherry trees.
Here are the picnic food to bring:

We really wish you were here and go to picnic with us!

No51 -22 March 2004
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No . Here in Osaka it was rainy today, but spring seems to come finally. Near our office magnolias are in full bloom now. I found that magnolia is the state flower of Louisiana and Mississippi in USA, and I imagine how beautiful they are if lots of magnolia are fully blooming. Our country flower 'sakura'(cherry blossom) is in full bloom in the southern district of Japan. Here is the map of the cherry blossom front. Osaka is in the middle of Japan, and we must wait a few weeks to see the sakura flowers.
We cannot see real cherry blossoms here yet but cherry blossom motif kimono is just in season. The beauty of cherry blossoms dyed in kimono also is just gorgeous --we wish we have one now but we are sorry the ones we had are all gone now. You know fashion is always a little ahead of the season and so are the Kimono motifs. It is said 'iki'(stylish) if you wear the sakura motif when people are just looking forward its bloom. If you attend the party with full of cherry blossom motif kimono right now, you must be the No1 dresser at the party and people will admire your fashion sense. But there is not so many sakura motif kimono, because it is extravagant dress. Because the bloom of the cherry blossom is very impressive, so kimono with cherry blossom motifs limits the time to be worn. That is why you often see cherry blossoms together with autumn flowers or maple leaves, which enable the kimono to be worn both in spring and autumn. Spring and autumn is the wedding season also--that also is one of the reason why the flower motifs of the both seasons are often seen in the same kimono.
Sakura have been loved deeply by Japanese. From Heian period (794-1192), people have loved sakura, planted and breeded. In Edo period there said to be 200-250 cultivars, and they had been motifs of crafts and arts. Cherry blossom burst out, and fall soon, and it move the spirits of Japanese from older times. 'Monono-aware' is the word to express the 'feeling of sorrow', which we feel to see the falling sakura. It is the allegory of graciousness and manliness for Japanese. Sometimes the sakura-spirit were used to force the soldier(or samurai) go dying boldly. When we think of sakura we think of fleetingness of life .

Bursting and falling sakura bring up the images of ----
* Entrance ceremony of school, with mother in black Haori.
* Graduation, separation from friends. ( Entrance and graduation are in the April in Japan)
* 'Ohanami'( cherry blossom viewing party ). Under the cherry blossom tree, on the straw mat,
many drunks and horn-pipes.
* Samurai harakiri scene, Kamikaze pilots are waiting suicide sally, ( from movies).

If you were a fresh recruit, you had to get a good spot for cherry-blossom viewing party for your company members. To get the good spot, you must be smart. You may had to camp out in a park to get a good spot, or you have to have special ability to cut in the crowded space without troubles. Anyway if you come to Japan in spring, we would like to recommend you to stay in cherry blossom season. I wrote about sento in the previous newsletter. You may be able to soak in the out door hot spring with receiving the falling petals of cherry blossom.

For the flowers lover, I would like to write more about sakura. It is said that there are approx 100-200 cultivars of sakura here in Japan. But approx 80-90% sakura is one cultivar , Somei-yoshino.
This cultivar was the result of a mutation in Edo period (1603-1867). Someiyoshino became very popular, and in long time someiyoshino have been planted all over Japan. Somei-yoshino was planted also in Potomac Park in Washington. Someiyoshino don't breed, so all somei-yoshino grow from from cuttings or separating the roots. Someiyoshino all over the world have same DNA. It is why the cherry blossom burst at one time according to the change of the temperature. But there are many cultivars, and there are about 100 natural cultivars are growing naturally in the mountain.
Here is the page of the many cultivars of sakura.
People who know well about sakura enjoy the many kind of sakura. Also in kimono, we can find the different shapes of cherry blossoms, and sometimes 'shidare-sakura'(weeping cherry blossom) are dyed very impressively.
Today we have listed some uchikake karinui fabric, kimono and fabrics. Especially we have got many beautiful uchikake karinui fabrics, and we are grateful you could check them.

No50 -15 March 2004
Hello form Ichiro. This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's New Letter No. . Here in Osaka, it is becoming warmer and warmer in these days. Only a week ago, it snowed here, but today is warm day, and it looks as if it is the sunny Sunday in April. Our office is closed, and all staffs are off today. Our elder daughter Shoko finished university entrance exam a few days ago. We don't know whether she pass or fail the exams yet, but our family feel calm now. Yuka and two daughters went out to the downtown of Osaka, to buy some spring clothes and eat some grub. I am at the office and working alone. I don't want to go along with them, because I must be waiting for a long long time at the front of the stores, while they are choosing the clothes.
Instead of going to downtown, I went to 'Super Sento' near our office in the morning. Maybe you already know 'sento' - public bath. 'Sen' means money, and 'TU' means 'hot water'. When we were children or more earlier time, many people lived the house without bath. My ground mother was the superintendent of flat, and its flat didn't have bath in any apartment. Only the joint lavatory were in each floors, and residents had to go out to sento to take a bath. When I was very small boy, the bath of our house often did not work, and I had to go out to sento sometimes.
In the olden times there were many sento in almost each village or town. We used to walk to sento with the washtubs, towels, change of clothes and some coins. The way home was very pleasant during warm seasons. Night winds were nice and cool to the flashed skins, and we used to enjoy drinking cold milk. But during the winter season, the way to sento, especially the way home was sometimes pain.
Old type sento has two large bathtubs for men and women, and was separated with high wall. There are the entrances of the 'Otokoyu'( bath for men) and 'Onnayu'(bath for women), and 'noren'(curtain) are hanged there. (Noren has character of 'Otokoyu' and 'Onnayu'). And there is a tall 'bandai' desk there, and we must pay the fee to the man on the 'bandai' desk. (The fee of old type sento is 400 yen now. It was much less expensive when I was a child.) They are ordinarily the owner of sento or his family members. Beyond the noren entrance, there is dressing rooms and we take off the wears and keep the clothes to the wooden locker there. From the 'bandai'(tall desk), sento master man can see the dressing rooms of both men's and women's. I remember I asked my mother why the man on 'bandai' was allowed to see the women's dressing room several times.
There is the page about old type sento. There are many photos, which help you imagine how the old time sento looked like.
There is the page of collections of sento noren.
In the wall of bathtub rooms, there is an extra large picture. Ordinarily they are the picture of bold scenery pattern ( Mt. Fuji scenery seems to be most popular) . Here is the photos of process of painting the sento picture.

In olden times people had to go to sento, mainly because they didn't have bath in their house, but sento also had been had the function as a place for social interaction of neighbors. People enjoyed the chatting and gossips there, and if the kids run wild, people taught them manners. But now people become rich, and the houses and flats without bath became so few. Many old type sento have been closing their business, because of the rapid decline of the customers.

And nowadays sento are surviving and reviving as 'Super Sento'. One super sento 'Uguisunoyu' opened about a year ago between our office and home. We have a bath in our home, but I go there every weekend, because super sento give me more relax feeling than home-bath. Uguisinoyu has is a huge sento. It has several large indoor bathtubs, some of which have jet bubbles and different temperatures. There are two sauna rooms, and there also are several outdoor bathtubs. Outdoor bathtubs are in the steep slope, and from the highest bathtub we can see the beautiful town scenery. In the night we also can see the night scene of town and stars from the bathtub. Wooden terrace is made just near the highest outdoor bath, we can lie down with towels for a while. After taking the bathes, we can also enjoy the light meal, or massage service. The fees of Uguisunoyu is 600 yen, only 100 yen higher than old type sento. Uguisunoyu is very popular, and especially the day before the holiday, it is very crowded with people. Now super sento is very popular among people in all over Japan, and its number is increasing rapidly.
Here is the photos of one super sento.

If you come to Japan, and come to our office, let's go to Uguisunoyu with us.
Today we have listed some silk fabrics and several supreme pieces, which I got from one of the most famous vintage kimono dealer in Japan. She showed me lots of her supreme pieces, and kindly gave me some most favorite pieces at whole sale price. She told me the stories about all pieces - when and from whom she got them, and why she loves them. Those pieces are very rare, and we seldom come across these class pieces at the kimono auctions. The pieces I selected and asked her to sell are very very attractive also for me, and once I got them, I began to think I would like to keep them for myself. But as she said, pieces must be circulated among the kimono lovers.
We listed
*Supreme Embroidery Uchikake from Meiji period. Its embroidery work is supreme, and its condition is perfect.
*Two Shirozashi Noragi from Tohoku district. It is very very rare sashiko pieces.
*Three Sakiori Noragi. They have very very beautiful well torn textures, and has white sashiko stitch's accent.
*Supreme Tsume Tsuzure Koto Cover. This piece is incredible piece. If the pattern was dyed, we think it might been special piece, but this piece is WOVEN with Tsume Tsuzure technique all over it.

No49 -8 March 2004
Hello from very chilly Osaka. This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter.We hope you are all well -- We have e-mailed you regarding the fake mail from `The team '. As we mentioned,`The team' has nothing to do with us and we have never sent that mail. Thank you very much for your consideration and we hope none of you opened the zipfile they have sent. Domo arigatou gozaimasu

We call the firemen's jacket as 'Hikeshi Sashiko Banten'. It is made of multiple layered cotton, and was designed to be wetted and to protect firemen from bruises and burns. Sashiko stitches reinforced the cloth to protect the body against the heat, cool and droppings. In the inside they have vivid pictures, which are deeply rooted in the tatoos. Themes are dragon, tiger and samurai, and they were painted with vivid and vigorous touch.
Firemen wore the jacket with the right side (which has only simple design) out while working. They were widely admired for their skills, bravery and morality, just like as the spacemen today.In Edo period (1603-1867), fires often occurred in town, and they couldn't easily be extinguished. Because there were not the electricity, so people had to use candles or lantern in their house, and once the fires occurred, fires spreaded very fast because the material of houses are wood and papers. Firemen helped the people, and pulled down the housed downwind of fires, in order to prevent the flames from engulfing others. Firemen were proud that they costed their lives to saving the people in the community, and they were considered to be manlier and braver than anyone else.
After the fire fighting ended, the fire firemen wore the jacket inside out. They walked back streets with displaying the vigorous pictures triumphantly . They might go drinking with jacket too. People had to admire and thank them to see their style. The pictures of firemen jacket have similar design with tatoos. Tatoos here in Japan are often associated with outsiders or gangs, but in Edo period tatoo evoled such images. Heroes of popular prints books had tatoo on the backs, and Edo people liked them. Most town firemen in Edo had splendid tatoos on their back,and they were considered to be the proof of menly and chivalrous men. So the town firemen in Edo period didn't need pictures inside, and mainly they wore the Sashiko jacket with repeated pattern in the outside. But penal provisions forbidding tattoos were issued 1872, and since then tattoo have been treated as illegal and outsiders' thing.
Tattoo seems to have bad image gradually from end of the Edo period, because of the opening of Japan to the world. So the firemen jackets from ending of Edo period, Meiji period (1868-1912) and later has pictures inside on behalf of the tatoos.
Hikeshi Sashiko Banten are very rare also here in Japan. And already good pieced went abroad, and belonged in Museums. They with good pictures were traded at the price of approx a million yen at the bubble era (1990's). Nowadays the price are coming down nearly half or to 70%, but the collectors wouldn't like to sell them with negative profit.
We fortunately got one of the Hikeshi Sashiko Banten a week ago. Today we have listed it here.
It is considered to be from Meiji peirod (1868-1912), and has stunning dragon motif inside. Dragon, wave and clouds are dyed vividly. Sashiko stitches are hand done and textile is very thick. We are offering it at $2400. The picture of this piece is slightly faded, because of its hard use. If the picture is more sharp, and the pigments are vivid, it will cost more than $6000.
I touch the fabric and enjoy its vigrous dragon picture, with imagined how honored and proud the original owner was. had to be the man among men - manly, brave and self-denial. And I also imagine the many firemen in these days, and their brave behaviors and their death ------ I would like to become the man with the same spirit of the Shouboushi(firefighter).

No48 -1 March 2004
Hello from Japan. This is Yuka writing Ichiroya's news letter.
Here is one chart--this is a statistics on population. Can you guess what this chart is showing?

The thick black line is Japan, and USA, France, Germany, UK and Sweden are also shown. This chart shows the the increase of aging population--Japan is facing a problem of aging population --which no other countries have ever experienced before.

We are about to enter the age of aged people's country. The ratio of elderly people at least 65 years old in Japan is getting higher and higher drastically--then what will it happen?

My parents live alone in Nara but they are thinking about moving. Since both of them are getting weaker and they do not drive any more, they are looking for a place to live close to us. Today, I went to see a new house for my parents. It is actually a condominium (condominium are called `mansion' in Japan)
They lived in a same house for 42 years, so it is a big issue and I feel so responsible. Recently, there are many condominiums close to the train stations or close to the big cities. It used to be living in houses in the suburbs is the ideal way but it seems it is changing because of various reasons. I have to see more objects before I can recommend them, but I have been thinking what kind of condominium is good for them? What are the points to decide where to live?

Some of you may live in big cities and some of you may live in the place surrounded by nature. We say `Sumeba miyako' which means `Every bird thinks its own nest beautiful', so we hope we can find a suitable place for them to live.

I want to write a little about houses in Japan. If you come to Japan and visit someone's house, you take off your shoes at Genkan(entrance). Most of the living rooms are western style but some are Japanese style. If you are invited to a Japanese room, you will be offered to sit on Zabuton(cusion), then sitting straight with your legs folded under you will be preferred but it is alright if you cannot do this. Usually there are a living room(dining is combined with living room often)kitchen + some bedrooms. The idea of `den' is heard recently but most of the houses have no such space. Many men have dreams to have their own study room but most of the cases it remains as a dream until any of the children leaves their houses. Most children stay home until they graduate from college. Many people keep living with their parents until they get married. It may be a little different from the situation of your country. When people get married, they live in a small apartments or mansion and then, after certain years, people start to have their own houses. However, because of the bubble economy, the cost of land and houses remain low, so many people choose to rent a house and prefer not to have a loan. Cost of houses remain low but it makes people difficult to sell their houses to buy a new one.
Our daughter became 18 years old sometime before, and I was stunned by the fact that I am a mother of 18 years old girl. I thought I was 18 some time ago...I wondered where these years have gone. Am I an amnesia victim ? Why she became 18 so quickly? She was surely a baby some time ago. How could she become taller than me without my knowing?

I could not believe myself looking for a house for my parents--I thought I was young but I guess it is a reality. `Thank you' to the things I went through and `Yes' to the things which will come --I have read this somewhere..
I think one of the former United Nations Secretary General said this.
(Please let me know if you know who said this)
Thank you very much for reading -- we wish all of you a wonderful brand new week.

No47 -23 February 2004
This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter by Ichiro. Yesterday and today are very warm days, and we confuse that long-awaited advent of spring already has come. Ume blossom already bloom here, and we don't need winter jacket at noon to go out. But we know the cooler days come back soon, and gradually the temperature will rise. We call it 'sankan-shion'. 'San' means three, 'shi' means four, and 'kan' means 'cold' and 'on' means 'warm'. So the words means ' Three-cold-days, and four-warm-days, and guradually it is getting warmer'. Maybe it is same season where you live.
Spring is our starting season - guraduation, entrance, getting employment are in spring. I(Ichiro) have started learning English by individual instruction just now. Many customers think 'Yuka and Kayo speak English fluently, but Ichiro's English is ......'. I decided to improve my English, especially the listening and speaking skills. Before yesterday, if someone called us and I took the phone, I said only hello and handed it to Yuka or Kayo san. But from today I will try to speak more to thank you. Your phone is always welcome! If you have some questions about kimono and Japanese textiles, please call my handiphone.( 81-90-5896-8406 about your oders, please call our office number ) --If you have the courage to become the English teacher. trial horse for Ichiro's English speaking.
My new teacher Chris san is from United Kingdom, and he is 42 years old sophisticated male. I was threatend by the cordinater that Chris san is strict, and give me tons of assignment. But he looks very kind, gentle and intellectual. I will follow him and would like to improve my skills.
As many customers noticed, discripitons of the items are wrote by me with unskilled English. I would like to write better discriptions to convey the charm of the fabrics more efficently. We are going to discuss the kimono discriptions, and I would like to improve the writing skill too.
Recently I have found the magazine, which introduce Japanese art & antique in English. It is named 'Daruma', and we came to know that it is very popular among the foreigners all over the world, who are interested in Japanese culture. I ordered some recent and back issues, and now reading them. The themes are not only the textiles but also netsuke, ukiyoe, modern art, pottery and other Japanese antique items. And I found its contents are specialistic and very informative also to us. I read the articles about kasuri, tsutsugaki and textile of Okinawa, and they all are very interesting. It contains many beautiful color pictures, and some articles are written by the famous kimono dealers, who I know. Here is the site of 'Daruma' magazine.
'Daruma' is sent anywhere in the world for the same fee. It is published in March, June, Sep. and Dec. We strongly recommend this magazine if you would like to know more about the Japanese textiles. They have link page in their site, and the publisher gave us the promise to link our site ( She only re-write the site contents three month interval, the link will be appeared three month later.)
We don't receive any profit, if our customers subscribe the magazine. We only recommend the magazine has rich contents, which we can not offer through our site and newsletter. But it is possible, we are very grateful if you add some words about our site when you subscribe. Perchance the publisher may write about us in her magazine ( of course it is mathematical chance, because the magazine seems to exclude the commercial articles ).
In these days we become to like kasuri and vintage cotton fabrics more and more. They looks to me as if they are the gem. They are the rare crafts, which only old-time Japanese could be able to make. We love their soft touch texture and interesting pattern, which cann't be made in these days. Some people cut the vintage fabrics and made their crafts, so the good kasuri is becoming less and less. You can buy vintage hand-dyed & hand-woven kasuri at approx $100-, but same quality fabrics can not be made no matter you pay.
But for the offering kasuri, we seem to be more careful about the discriptions and photos. Here are the some points we would like to let you know.

1. Vintage(pre WWIII) kasuri is hand-dyed and hand-woven. Almost all textile has soft touch. And they are dyed with 'ai'- natural indigo.
2. Old kasuri is mostly machine-woven. There remain many Bingo kasuri here, which have colorful double ikat variety. Dyestuff is artificial indigo.
3. Most Bingo kasuri has stiff touch, and some have too soft こしがない。Someone says it is because it was machine-woven, but it may not be right. Because the contemporary Kurume Kasuri, which is woven with machine has soft touch. The softness of the textile seems to be determined by twisting(yarn) and thickness of weaving.
4. Origin of the vintage kasuri sometimes can not be determined. Four main procuct centres are Kurume(kyusyu), Sanin, Iyo(Shikoku) and Bingo, and also in Tohoku kasuri was woven. Some patterns are thought to be unqiue in each product center( for examples typical geometric pattern is from Kurume), but it is not absolute. Kasuri was woven by the farmer's wives and mothers. For examples if some female in Kurume learned the technique of Kurume kasuri from her mother, and got married with man in Iyo, and came to Iyo. Should the kasuri made by her in Iyo be called Iyo Kasuri or Kurume Kasuri?
5, Principal ingredients of 'ai' and artificial indigo has same component. So it is difficult to tell dyestuff (artificial indigo or 'ai') by its color. But 'Honai'(dyed with 'ai') seems to have more warm indigo color than artificail one.

No46 -16 February 2004
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No47. Yesterday(February 14) was Saint Valentine's Day and it is celebrated alsoin Japan. We heard that the day is celebrated in many countries--Saint Valentine's Day in Japan seems to be a commercial project by chocolate companies. As the new tradition of roll sushi, we seem to like a special event related to food.
Women or girls have to prepare chocolate if there are any men or boys around them on that day. Chocolate for someone special-- and also chocolate out of courtesy. It is said to be the day that women can make a declaration of love to someone they admire. Quite a lot of sales of chocolate is made on this day, and handmade chocolate materials also sell very much. Our daughter Mugi stayed up late to make chocolate cake the day before the day, and she presented it to her boyfriend. When I was a student, I also used to anticipate the chocolate on February 14. Usually I got poor catch compared with friends, who were attractive to girls.
This year I got several chocolates. My daughters and Yuka and staffs gave me chocolate. Chocolate given out of courtesy (duty chocolate) is called 'Giri-choco'. 'Giri' means 'duty', so there is the atmosphere that women or girls must present chocolate to their bosses or co-workers.
It is just a fun day and we all enjoy eating chocolate both men and women on the day everywhere. When I was working for Daimaru Department Store as a manager of the table ware division, I made the highest record of chocolates. Of course they are all Giri-choco, but one of my boss said he always checked all cards ( which are attached to the chocolates) before brought them home. He always got three big bags of chocolates, and later he became the board member!

Recently we have got some unique items. We will list some unique cotton items from today, which are mainly from Tohoku district. In Tohoku district, asa(Japanese linen) was the main fabrics for kimono before Edo period (1603-1867), but in Yokote cotton was woven and dyed with 'ai'(natural indigo). Today we have listed very rare antique yogi made of Yokote Gasuri. It has rare cock motif, and has very soft touch ( of course it was dyed and woven with hand ).
We also listed three 'katazome' ( stenciled with paste-resist technique) cotton fabrics. Their exotic repeated pattern have the special kind of beauty. Textiles are thick cotton and has very soft touch. Japanese people love these vintage katazome cotton for the handicraft just like as kasuri. The combination of kasuri and katazome seems to give the crafts very unique design.
We have also listed some vintage 'noragi'(farmer's jacket). They are made of cotton, and have many repaired parts, which are added other cotton fabrics. Fabrics are hand-woven kasuri, shima(stripe) cotton, and dyed-pattern cotton, and some are added 'sashiko'( stitches ) to add the strength to the fabrics. As I wrote in previous mails, in old days fabrics were valuable, and people used many many times with repairing, and finally they made the fabrics to 'sakiori'. When I touch and see this kind of noragi, I always imagine the owner's severe lives, and feel the love of the their mothers and wives.
We will be able to list more kasuri and cotton items in this week. We hope you enjoy our items. Like as Tohoku district(nothern Japan), Okinawa(southern Japan) also has many unique dyed and woven textiles. Some days we would like to introduce items from Okinawa, but good items from Okinawa are always very very high price. We sometimes come across Bingata dyed silk, but they always cost more than $5000 at wholesale price. But last week we have got very good silk bolt with Bingata style dyed. They are dyed in Kyoto with Bingata stenciled technique, but has tasteful and exotic Bingata essence. It will be an special kimono, if you made kimono with them.
We have listed many silk and cotton bolt too. We are very grateful if you could check our new items.
Always we thank you for your attention and ordering. Arigatou gozaimasu!!

No45 -9 February 2004
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market Ichoroya's News Letter. Here in Japan ume blossom is in full bloom in the northern district. Spring is at the corner, but we seems to have wait for more days, to see the cherry blossom.I(Ichiro) was in the Tohokku district a few days ago, and it snowed heavily there. People there said it was very rare to have heavy snow like these days. They all wore rain boots, and it reminds me the Tohoku district is very cool, and they had lots of snows before.
Today is Sunday, and our office was closed. Yesterday nigt, we went to Jazz concert and refreshed ourselves. Concert was by Michael Brecker from USA, who is one of the most popular jazz sax player(Ichiro love music, especially jazz!) .
Today Yuka went her parents home to help their lives. I went to National Ethnic Museum in Osaka, which is holding ' Exhibiton of Ainu Life'.
As I wrote in previous News Letter, Ainu is the aborigine in Hokkaido, located in the northernmost regions of Japan.Their culture and art have spiritul and powerful forms, which shows the traces of Jomon era(Japanese Paleolithic). They lived in severe cold weather, and they lived on hunting and fishery, and their lauguage didn't have the past form. After the end of Edo period (1603-1867), their unique culture - for example, tatoo in the face of adult women lost gradually.Our generation of Ainu speak only Japanese, and live all over Japan. Some of them live in their home land - Hokkaido, and try to inherit their ethnic tradition in modern life, just may be the same as other aboligine in the world. Some of them work as craft men, and are making their traditinal crafts, arts and goods also for suveniors. Besides the unique wear and textile, Ainu is know with their wood curving technique.
In the exhibiton most works were from after Showa period, which were made by Ainu lady who inherit their technique from their mother and grand mother. I overwhelmed with the atomoshere - Ainue works have magical power.Its unique design has roots in ancient Jomon culture. Here is the photos of Jomon ware.
Here is the very informative web about Ainu and their Culture.
Their wears are made of various kinds of hides or vegetable fibers, and after the Edo preiod(1603-1867) cotton were carried from the southern region of Japan. Ainu people got cotton in the exchange of their labors or catch, and added unique applique and embroidery on it.From the document, Ainu people made their wear also with fish skins, but they seems not to remain. Attus is made from the bast fiber of an elem treee, and Retarape is made from nettle fibers.They are decrated with unique pattern applique and embroidery. Its abstract pattern is thought to have the origin in the Jomon culture.
Fortunately we have got two Ainu jackets.
Recently antique Ainu jacket is very rare, and if we come across them, most of them are added embroidery later on the original one, or found that it is more made more recently. Several days ago we came to know one of our familiar antique kimono dealer, who is very famous in this world, has been collected antique Ainu wears and goods. We often buy antique kimonos from him, so he gave us two antique Ainu jacket to us at whole sale price.
One is the jacket made of attus, bark of elm and considered to be from the beginning Meiji peirod ( 1868-1912). It has unique touch of attus, and has beautiful woven stripe pattern.
Another piece is made of cotton, and added applique and embroidery. Cotton fabric has woven check pattern, and it is from end of the Edo period (1603-1867) or early Meiji peirod (1868-1912).

No44 -2 February 2004
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA'A News Letter No44. We woke up to find snow on the ground here in Osaka. In the previous news, I wrote the climate here has been becoming warmer compared withour boyhood. But these two days Japan is hit by the coldest wave in this winter. Large flakes of snow is falling now.
If you come to Japan at winter season, I would like to recommend to go to shrines and temples covered with snow. In every season they has particular beauty, but the scenes completely covered white are also especially impressive.
I wouldlike to recommend one more place to go. It is open-air hot spring. When I was a planing manager of the Daimaru department store, I visited Tohoku district( northern are in Japan), and I was invited to the very small open-air hot spring. Its hot spring is in the outlying region, and it is mainly for people in the zone and the tourists seldom visit. I had to walk in very deep snow to the small house, and I was frozen by the time I reached the dressing room. But when I was calm down in the tub made ofJapanese cypress, I came to know it was the special experience, I have never had. Very large flakes of snow was falling, and was shining in the light of the lantern. All trees and scenery I could see in the dark were covered with pure white snow. The falling flakes were shimmering in the light, and the flakes were falling to me and to the surface of hot water also, and they melted there.
I heard the subtle sound of falling snow in the hot water.That was the most impressive and serene experience I had about hot spring visit.Unfortunately it was more than 15 years ago, and I do not remember the name and place of it. But if you come to Japan, you will be able to find open-air hot spring like it.
Snow had been thought to be the sign of banner year, and it became the popular motif in kimono. Some customers may have seen the'yuki-mochi-zasa', which means bamboo('zasa') covered ('mochi') withsnow('yuki'). There also are the 'yuki-mochi-yanagi'( 'yanagi' means willow) and 'yuki-mochi-tsubaki'('tsubaki' means camellia). There also are the 'yukiwa' and 'sekkamon'. Both are the motifs designed by the crystallization of snow. 'Yukiwa'(large circle shape pattern) was popular in the Genroku period(1688〜1704), and it was dyed in summer kimono for the taste of cool. Here is the sample of 'yukiwa' mon.
'Sekkamon' is the pattern very near the real crystallization of snow, and it was used after the ending of Edo period (1603 - 1867 ).Its design is almost same design as you imagine, but we couldn't find the samples in the net.
When I see snow, I often imagine the crucial farmer's life in area of very heavy snowfall. Before WWII or more earlier, farmers had to work away from home during the long winter, and wives had to house-sit with working in their house. Many wives made weaving, and supplemented the family income. Their weaving techniques were inherited from their mothers, and various technique were advanced in various places. For an ultimate sample, there is the Koginzashi. We have one museum class piece of Koginzashi. We are very grateful if you could enjoy the photos again, with imagine the snow covered scenery.

No43 -19 January 2004
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No47. Yesterday(February 14) was Saint Valentine's Day and it is celebrated alsoin Japan. We heard that the day is celebrated in many countries--Saint Valentine's Day in Japan seems to be a commercial project by chocolate companies. As the new tradition of roll sushi, we seem to like a special event related to food.
Women or girls have to prepare chocolate if there are any men or boys around them on that day. Chocolate for someone special-- and also chocolate out of courtesy. It is said to be the day that women can make a declaration of love to someone they admire. Quite a lot of sales of chocolate is made on this day, and handmade chocolate materials also sell very much. Our daughter Mugi stayed up late to make chocolate cake the day before the day, and she presented it to her boyfriend. When I was a student, I also used to anticipate the chocolate on February 14. Usually I got poor catch compared with friends, who were attractive to girls.
This year I got several chocolates. My daughters and Yuka and staffs gave me chocolate. Chocolate given out of courtesy (duty chocolate) is called 'Giri-choco'. 'Giri' means 'duty', so there is the atmosphere that women or girls must present chocolate to their bosses or co-workers.
It is just a fun day and we all enjoy eating chocolate both men and women on the day everywhere. When I was working for Daimaru Department Store as a manager of the table ware division, I made the highest record of chocolates. Of course they are all Giri-choco, but one of my boss said he always checked all cards ( which are attached to the chocolates) before brought them home. He always got three big bags of chocolates, and later he became the board member!

Recently we have got some unique items. We will list some unique cotton items from today, which are mainly from Tohoku district. In Tohoku district, asa(Japanese linen) was the main fabrics for kimono before Edo period (1603-1867), but in Yokote cotton was woven and dyed with 'ai'(natural indigo). Today we have listed very rare antique yogi made of Yokote Gasuri. It has rare cock motif, and has very soft touch ( of course it was dyed and woven with hand ).
We also listed three 'katazome' ( stenciled with paste-resist technique) cotton fabrics. Their exotic repeated pattern have the special kind of beauty. Textiles are thick cotton and has very soft touch. Japanese people love these vintage katazome cotton for the handicraft just like as kasuri. The combination of kasuri and katazome seems to give the crafts very unique design.
We have also listed some vintage 'noragi'(farmer's jacket). They are made of cotton, and have many repaired parts, which are added other cotton fabrics. Fabrics are hand-woven kasuri, shima(stripe) cotton, and dyed-pattern cotton, and some are added 'sashiko'( stitches ) to add the strength to the fabrics. As I wrote in previous mails, in old days fabrics were valuable, and people used many many times with repairing, and finally they made the fabrics to 'sakiori'. When I touch and see this kind of noragi, I always imagine the owner's severe lives, and feel the love of the their mothers and wives.
We will be able to list more kasuri and cotton items in this week. We hope you enjoy our items. Like as Tohoku district(nothern Japan), Okinawa(southern Japan) also has many unique dyed and woven textiles. Some days we would like to introduce items from Okinawa, but good items from Okinawa are always very very high price. We sometimes come across Bingata dyed silk, but they always cost more than $5000 at wholesale price. But last week we have got very good silk bolt with Bingata style dyed. They are dyed in Kyoto with Bingata stenciled technique, but has tasteful and exotic Bingata essence. It will be an special kimono, if you made kimono with them.
We have listed many silk and cotton bolt too. We are very grateful if you could check our new items.
Always we thank you for your attention and ordering. Arigatou gozaimasu!!

No42 -12 January 2004
Next Monday(Jan 12) is Coming-of-Age Day and young girls and boys who become 20 years old this year wearkimono and attend the ceremonies. Many Boys wear business suit instead of kimono and hakama --todress like`Men in Black' seems to be very popular recently. Fancy furisode kimono are worn and they take many photos--the photos are treasured as a wonderful memory of turning 20 years old.Wearing furisode is very difficult work even for Japanese, most girls ask kimono fitter for this day.Many girls go to the beauty parlor, and ask to set their hair and dress them furisode.Yuka only went to photo studio(long long time ago), and asked help for dressing just as other people and took photos. Jan 12 and New Year's Day are the precious days when we can see beautiful furisode ladies on the street.
Yuka didn't go the Coming-of-Age Day ceremony, I(Ichiro) also didn't attend the ceremony.In Japan Coming-of-Age Day ceremonies are held by municipality, and if we had attend theceremonies, we had to hear the mayor's speech. When we were young, many young people thought mayor's speech was boring, and attending the ceremonies was not very cool.( I was a smart-assbad boy! But, Dear Mayor I didn't attend because I didn't have business suit!) Recently, some kids make a fuss, and break the atmosphere of the ceremony, and the scene of the fuss often are in the news. I want to write about this matter, but if I do so, I will have to become acutely aware of my aging, so I stop here.
In the season of the college and university graduation ceremony ( in February - March), you can see young ladies in hakama and furisode. The graduated female students often wear hakama.
Some customers may think the hakama is the costume only for men. In the Taisho period (1912 - 1926) and early Showa period (1926-1989), female students wore hakama as ordinary wear at their school. And now the most formal wear at the academe was thought to be hakama. As a top wear forhakama, there is not the special kimono for it. Any furisode and kimono can be worn, if they fit. Sometimes we came across ladies' hakama, but we don't buy them. If you are interested inladies hakama, please let us know.
Above and beyond this, we have got exceptionally rare piece. This costume set was worn by Emperor Meiji(1852-1912). This set was given to a family in Kyoto, and recently came to antique kimono market from that family. Because the origin is clear, and there are many evidences(some kanji characters on them, and woven patterns), we can guarantee it was worn by Emperor Meiji. Please check here.( We didn't introduce as a New Arrival Items, and added it at the last end of the 'Others' selection.)
We can't make up our mind whether to list it on e-bay or not.The box is too big to send by postal service, so if we send it to USA, we must separate it two packages. If someone are interestedin this item, please let us know. We would like to sell this item to familiar customer.
We are always looking for antique and vintage kimono and fabrics, but it is becoming difficult to collect them at moderate price. For examples we could easily get rich urushi pattern haori two years ago, but now we seldom come across rich urushi pattern haori at auction. 'Hajyaku'( silk bolt forhaori) is also becoming very less, and when they come to auction, the price become near double compared with the previous price. At used and dead-stock kimono(fabric) market the items becomeless, and the price is rising. If you are looking for kimono silk bolt, please note this situation. Karinui(roughly sewn kimono shape fabric) still remain at moderate price, and if you unsewn karinui(they are sewn so roughly, so it is so easy to unstitch to make it back to long fabrics. You will be able to get much fabrics as much as silk bolt. We strongly recommendkarinui fabric for the handicraft material( we have many Karinui at our site.)

Yuka do not have many jewel but her most precious thing are the pearl earrings she was given from her parents when she turned 20 years old. They are simple small pearl earrings but pearls are something very special and she said she was so happy and felt like she became a real grown uplady. Pearls are something you could wear any time with its simple but serene charm.Pearls have been loved by women in Japan always--we are adding three unique beautifulaccessories from Japan. Pearl, Cloisonne and Damascene are the three unique and enchanting accessories with Japanese craftsman ship. Pearl accessories are going to be added at the end of this month.
dozo otanoshimikudasai-we hope you will enjoy the three glowing beauties:

No42 -5 January 2004
Akemashite Omedeto gozaimasu(A Happy New Year!) Kotoshimo Yoroshiku(Yours cordially this year too)

These two lines are the new year greetings being exchanged by everyone in Japan. `Akemashite' means `opening up'--so the first line is congratulating the opening up of the brand new year. `Yoroshiku' is the very tough word to translate. It means, `Sincerely yours ', `Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.' or many others but if we can make it simple, it means `let's be friends this year too'. To someone you would like to keep the nice relationship, the sentence is always used.
The new year greeting words are never used until Jan 01. To welcome a brand new year, cleaning up of the houses, yards and offices have to be done and the traditional dish(Osechi ryori) needs to be prepared. If there are children among your relatives, crisp bills have to be prepared in a special small envelope (Pochi bukuro)ready to be handed. (Bills have to be ironed, if you forgot to obtain crisp bills)
Japan's recent economy is not so good but one of a most a thriving business is `Osechi ryori' catering. Osechi is not a single dish but the assorted food placed beautifully in a lacquered fancy boxes. To complete all the food ( usually there are 3 piled boxes)ready, it takes a couple of days. There used to be big families living together and women in the families were to cook, so the each family had the recipes went down to the new generation naturally. The lifestyles changed and more and more people depend on catering service for Osechi. Of course many people still keep making some of Osechi, but buying Osechi is becoming very popular. As an average--people pay 20000yen to 50000yen(US$180--454) for Osechi. You may think it is very expensive but Osechi are keepable foods to eat the first 3 days or more of New Year's Days. Osechi plus Zoni(New Year's hotchpotch) are mostly eaten for those days. Economy is not good but instead of going to trip or eating at the fancy restaurants, people seem to be spending more money for Osechi and enjoy family reunions at home.
Shall we show you some of the typical food of Osechi?
First row, from the left:
*kurikinton--sweet mashed potatoes with sweet chestnut
*hasu--lotus root
*namasu--pickled daikon(white radish) and carrot
*kuwai--cooked arrowhead

Second row:
*kamaboko--fish minced and steamed(red and white)
*kazonoko--herring egg (symbol of numerous offspring )
*tatukuri--small dried sardines
*kobumaki--rolled tangle with dried fish in it

Third row:
*ebi--shrimp or lobster( a symbol of longevity--wishing to live long until back bends as shirimp)
*datemaki--egg roll
*takenoko--bamboo shoot(bamboo is a congratulatory motif)
*kuromame--cooked black beans

Fourth row:
*toshikoshisoba--noodles--we hurry eating soba before the year end bells end.
*zoni--New Year's hotchpotch--there are many kinds of zoni and it differs very much according to the areas. It can be the problem of husband-and-wife or one's wife and one's mother quarrel.

*nimono--cooked vegetables--they are usually home made.
*yawatamaki-- gobou(vegetable)rolled with thin beef or eel

Of course there are more and more food according to each house or area.
Here is the example of a hotel-made Osechi:

We are surprised to see our daughters eating a lot of Osechi food this year. When they were small, they did not want to try Osechi that much for they were quite new for them--but gradually they started to savor the traditional food. Osechi boxes are almost empty now. We ate a lot of mochi(rice cake) too.
Family reunions, eating Osechi, visiting shrines--the events of New Year's Days are almost over now. Most of the offices opens from Jan 05 and schools start from Jan 08. Highways were so crowded with the cars of the people coming back from their hometown to spend New Year's Day with their families.
A brand new year 2004 is started. May this year be peaceful and happy for all of you.

No41 -22 December 2003
Dec 28 is usually `shigoto osame'--the last day of work. On that day they often clean up the offices to welcome a new year. The rest of the days until the very end of the year, people become busy doing year-end general house cleaning and preparing the dishes for the New Year.
*Our office will be closed from Dec 28th to Jan 4th due to New Year's holidays. We are very sorry for the inconvenience during those days. Ichiro, Yuka and staffs are going to take each winter vacation in those days. At summer vacation we went to Hokkaido, but this time we don't have travel plan. Our daughter Shoko is preparing for entrance exams for university,(the exams starts from January)and we will be at home with her.
In this letter I am going to write about 'Oshougatsu' - New Year's Day in Japan when we were children. On New Year's Eve or earlier we Japanese prepare to welcome the new year. We do a thorough house cleaning on the last day of the year. When I was a child, my mother used to clean inside and outside of the house, and repaper sliding doors with pure white paper. We prepare 'mochi', rice cake which we eat during New Year's Day Vacation. From mid Showa period, ordinary Japanese buy mochi from retailers, but some people still pound mochi by themselves. Not many houses have tools any more, so many schools or kindergatens have `mochituki' to let children have the experience.
When I was a school boy, my father bought 'mochi pound machine', which looked like a small washing machine. It was very interesting scene that glutinous rice grains became mochi glob in that machine. Just made mochi are hot and very delicious. We used to make small mochis from the glob, and eat directly. On the eyeing we see 'Kohaku-utagassen' (annual NHK sponsored year-end men versus women singing contest) on the TV. It has been very popular TV show on New Year's Eve, and had high audience rating from mid Showa period ( 1926-1989). We sit in the 'kotatsu'(small table with an electric heater underneath and covered by a quilt ) with all family members, and see that TV program on the evening. And in front of TV we eat 'toshikoshi-soba'(buckwheat noodles eaten on New Year's Eve) around 11 pm. Soba is the auspicious food and eating soba at New Year's Eve means to wish long lives. Around the twelve midnight bells of the local temples start ringing all over Japan, and TV have lives from some famous temples from all over Japan. People are supposed to repent sins of a year hearing the bells, and prepare to welcome the new year with pure minds. Bells are tolled 108 times, that is because there thought to be 108 earthly desires in Buddhism teaching. Almost at every place in Japan bells of the temples are heard wherever you are. If you think you have too many earthly desires, please come to Japan and hear the 108 bells with me :-) Many people pay a first visit to a shrine on a New Year's Day. Some people go to shrines just after the twelve midnight. When I was a child, our family got up late in the morning at New Year's Day. My father and mother wore kimono, and my sister and I also wore the best western clothes, and sit down for the New Year's Day's meal. We greet each other saying `akemashite omedeto'(Happy New Year's Day). We celebrate the New Year by drinking toso or spiced sake, and eat mochi and 'osechi'(traditional New Year dishes). Osechi is the special dishes served for the first three days of the New Year, and mother used to make them before the New Year's Day. First three days of New Years are the holidays, and most stores were closed before mid Showa period (1926-1989). People had to store foods for these three days, and it also meant only these three days mothers got away from cooking and supposed to have rest. Osechi is stored in 'jyubako' ( tiered food boxes ), and many foods have auspicious meanings. Here is the sample photos of jyubako and osechi. In these days, many stores are open even in the New Year's Day, and many mothers don't make osechi for themselves, and buy from department store. The reason is of course to save time but also, buying all kinds of vegetables and other ingredients is quite costly. Buying the whole set --ready to eat oseti set is sometimes cheaper. Yuka buys some dishes and makes small osechi foods for herself, but both parents buy oseti now from department stores now. There are many attractive and delicious set sold at the department store, hotels and famous restaurants.

Children are given 'otoshidama' (gift money)from their relatives. It is in the small paper bags called pochibukuro. If you have many relatives, you will receive many otoshidama. Yuka seemed to receive more otoshimada money than me, because she had many uncles and aunts near her home and she could greet them on New Year's Day.
Recently, many people travel during the New Year's holidays and our description about Oshogatsu may become a little old fashioned but we both have the very warm and special memories of our homes at Osyogatu. Oshogatu was a very very special time for us when we were children. The festive atmosphere is getting less but we hope our daughter will have a nice memories of Oshogatu.
dozo minasama yoi otoshio!(Have a happiest New Year)

No40 -15 December 2003
Once upon a time, God said to all animals, ' Come to say new year's greetings on a New Year's Day. I will appoint 12 animals as the leaders of the years by order of arrival.' Animals in the mountains and plains delighted and waited the New Year's Day to arrive before anyone else. By mistake cat forgot the day, and asked the good friend mouse what day they should go. Mouse lied 'it must be the morning of January 2nd!' On the New Year's Eve, cow started to outfitted himself for a journey in the middle of the night. Cow thought ' I am more cloddish than others, so I have to set out earliest'. Mouse saw the cow from the attic, and jumped on the back of the cow. Without noticing it, cow left for God's Palace slowly. In the midnight cow arrived the gate of the God's Palace, and there was none yet. Cow thought ' I must be the first, and become the leader of this year!', and waited the gate to open. The sun was up, and cock announced the dawn, the gate suddenly opened. When the cow was going to be willing to pass through the gate, the mouse jumped down to the ground, and run through the gate, and announce the new year greetings. The mouse became the first, and the poor cow became the second. Next the tiger run through the gate after the very long run, and the fourth was rabbit. Followers are dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog and boar, and after the 12 animals pass through the gate, the gate was closed. The cat went the gate early in the morning on the next day. God said ' you mistook the day. I already appointed 12 animals. You must wake up with washing your face' After that time cat often wash their faces, and chaise mouse.

Above story is the Japanese old folk tale about '12-shi'(Oriental Zodiac). In Japan every year has the symbolical animal, which are from these 12 animals.
This year's(2003) animal is sheep, and next year's(2004) is monkey. We Japanese send 'Nengajyo'(new year's greeting card) to relatives, friends, clients and associates, and the motif of the card is ordinary from the year's animals. For examples, here is the next year's greeting card samples,
(top page of above site is here
We also use the '12-shi' as the approach of divination or character assessment.
My parents used to say Ichiro was always a rusher, because Ichiro's birth year was boar. Of course it doesn't have no scientific basis whatever, just like as the character assessment by blood type. But sometime it gives us the nice topics to tell about other's characters.
If you are interested in the 12-shi of your birth year, please find it from the following chart.
1912,1924,1936,1948,1960,1972,1984,1996 - mouse
1913,1925,1937,1949,1961,1973,1985,1997 - cow
1914,1926,1938,1950,1962,1974,1986,1998 - tiger
1915,1927,1939,1951,1963,1975,1987,1999 - rabbit
1916,1928,1940,1952,1964,1976,1988,2000 - dragon
1917,1929,1941,1953,1965,1977,1989,2001 - snake
1918,1930,1942,1954,1966,1978,1990,2002 - horse
1919,1931,1943,1955,1967,1979,1991,2003 - sheep
1920,1932,1944,1956,1968,1980,1992,2004 - monkey
1921,1933,1945,1957,1969,1981,1993,2005 - chicken
1922,1934,1946,1958,1970,1982,1994,2006 - dog
1923,1935,1947,1959,1971,1983,1995,2007 - boar

Yuka was born in the year of mouse--she is always squeaking!
(Oh no! she is coming here----help!)

No39 -8 December 2003
You may wonder if we celebrate Christmas in Japan--yes Christmas is a very joyous season here too. Recently more and more Christmas decoration of the exterior of home are seen in ordinary cities. Only five years ago, very few people did Christmas decoration of the exterior. So when I(Ichiro) was the buyer of Christmas decoration goods in Daimaru department store, we offered only a few exterior decoration. We cannot know why it suddenly became very popular--even in our neighborhood, some people decorate their exterior with full of lights, and the houses became the sight of the town. Many people here are not Christians,(Christians in Japan is less than 5% of the whole population)but like the Westerner we also enjoy Christmas season with many joyous events as Christmas parties and concerts. If we are asked ` do you celebrate Christmas?'--we will say `yes' but it does not mean Japanese people are all Christians.
In Japan one more notable event in December is 'oseibo'. We have a custom to send gifts to the people in recognition of their service. For examples, to business partners, teachers, relatives and bosses. People seem to send 'oseibo' to approx 10 - 15 persons on average . The items very often sent are beer, laver, juice, seasoning, detergent and so on(things which are practical and used in everyday life). Oseibo is assumed to be official gift, and people avoid to add the personal taste. People seem to have a tendency not to take the risk to give the gift items which are too unique. So if you were a powerful boss of big company in Japan, you would receive MANY oseibo gifts, and most of them are beer or laver or seasoning. Those items are able to be stored, and in ordinary family they are essential goods. But TOO many such items would bore you, and your partner would give them to their friends and relatives, or finally partner might sell them or return to the department to receive the alternative items. We know there is such aspect in sending oseibu gift, but we can not change the oseibo customs. Oseibo is not bribery but it is a token of the gratitude.
Today we have listed some gift items to our site with kimono and fabric bolts. We offer regal silk bags, moneybags and neckties made by Tatsumura Textile Co,.LTD, and Kawashima Textile Manufacturers LTD. You may already know these names. Here in Japan they are the most outstanding and most high quality weaving companies and most people know these names for its supreme quality. Silk woven obi from these companies are exceptionally beautiful, but the prices also are quite high. Here is the sites of Tatsumura's and Kawashima. These site will give you the interesting information.
The items we have listed are all made of beautiful silk fabrics. They are exceptionally gorgeous patterns taken from the design of ancient fabrics. Textile has very soft and smooth touch, and the design will fit Western clothes. Off course thery are brand new and in boxes, and we think these will be one of the best gift for your taste. We also have listed accessories of damascene and cloisonne, which are hand made in Kyoto. These items are also very unique and beautiful Japanese items. We think these accessories will be special gifts for many people. We are very grareful if you could check them. Off course we can send to arrive by Christmas by EMS (Express mail).

No38 -1 December 2003
Hello. This is Yuka, Ichiro's wife. I am writing today's Ichiroya's News Letter.
I am going to write about Japanese `kekkon' (marriage)of older times and also a little about the modern times. I remember having a great shock when I asked my grand mother a question, when I was very little. I asked my grandmother one day, `Obaachan(Grandma), how long did you go out with Ojiichan(Grandpa)?' and she said, she has seen his photo once before she got married with him. `Do you mean you got married without seeing him?'
I remember asking her again and again. I just could not believe it and could not understand how people could get married with someone you have not seen him before.
Kekkon (marriage)for women used to mean that she will be a yome. It is a very hard word to translate--it does not mean a wife but yome is yome- and it is written as women in a house when written in Kanji. Kekkon meant women to become a member of her husband's family, leaving her own family. Arranged marriage were the most popular style in my grand mother's time. There are naked(matchmaker)everywhere in the community, the relatives or bosses often set up the `omiai'(a go-between affair). There are still omiai system but these days matrimonial agency sytem seems to be more popular. When the marriage is set, the bridegroom has to bring `betrothal money' to the bride's house. Fukusa(covering cloth)with auspicious motifs are used, and the decorations of auspicious figures as pinetrees-bamboo-plumblossoms, or cranes & turtles as in the photo are often accompanied.
The bride's family also prepare the return gift--it can be gift money or items as a watch or a suit also are popular. The bride groom supposed to visit the bride's house with his parents to bring the betorothal money. My father and my mother were brought up at next doors, and the both family knew each other very well--so they thought they did not want the formal betrothal exchange. My father just went my mother's house to hand the betrothal money. He was wearing a pair of everyday geta, and he has been teased about that for many years. I guesss geta was too informal even though they knew each other very well. I will talk about the things brides had to bring with her. The tradition is very different according to each area and of course the tradition does not seem to exist anymore especially in the big cities, so it is so hard to tell what is the common way these days. In older times brides were supposed to bring chest with the drawers full of clothing. She had to bring Yogi, futon cover, yutan(the covering cloth with family crest which covers chest)and other things.
She had to bring, many kimono including two sets of funeral kimono(both for summer and other seasons) homongi(semiformal), komon and so on. The big trucks with the back made by glass to show what the bride brought were actually seen until some years ago--of course the back of the truck decorated with wide red and white ribbons. The truck can never back up even though they take a wrong way. It is hated because it is `engigawarui'(ominous ) for brides.
Traditional way of wedding is drastically decreased--the reasons are : it is too costly and also modern brides and bridegrooms prefer to have original style. Traditional weddings were costly. Nagoya area is famous for the gorgeous wedding and the avarage amount of money they used for one wedding was 9590.000yen($87200)but after the bubble economy has collapsed, the average amount became 7270000yen($68800).
Nakodo(match makers), yuino(betorothal money), and yomeirijitaku (things brides bring)may become a dead language--younger people tend to ignore these tradition recently.

No37 -24 November 2003
Last week we sent two e-mails from us, which are to inform you our new 'Random Time List Sale' and Antique uchikake prices. We thought it might be a good idea to e-mail at the moment we add new items besides our usual update. Of course our weekly news mails are sent every weekends just as usual.
In this mail I would like to write the continuation of last week's story of Yoshitsune. If you are not interested in this story, I am very sorry. But his lifestory is so famous that it is often made into various stories, TV dramas or movies, and also used as motifs of designs of kimono.
Here is his Yoshitsune's story --- Kiyomori Taira ( who killed Yoshitsune's father) and his clan overloaded politics when Yoshitsune was in Hiraizumi, northern part of Japan. Emperor, aristocrats and warriors had intense grievance against Taira's tyranny. In 1180 Prince Mochihitoo sent Minamoto family's members the secret message to defeat Taira. But its was known by Kiyomori Taira, and prince Mochihitoo was killed by Taira. This, however, became a turning point, and Yoritomo Minamoto( elder brother of Yoshitsune, who were sent to Izu ) raised an army, and rapidly spread dominated area. Yoshitsune heard his brother's pingle, and run to Yoritomo's position with 300 soldiers. There was a reunion between the brothers (they were separated when Yoshitomo was 2 years old ) --They embraced each other and shed a lot of tears. Kiyomori Taira died from disease when he was 64 years old, but Yoritomo and his clan had to battle against Taira clan. Yoshitsune won three important battles, which are very famous, and often become the subject of stories and motif of picture. Yoritomo had another brother, and he wanted him to be a commander, but always it was Yoshitsune who was able to win the difficult battles. Battle of Ichinotani(1184)--- Taira clan was in the castle with a hundred thousand soldiers, and Yoshitsune had to attack with 65,000 soldiers. The castle was protected its back by precipitous bluff. Yoshitsune divided his soldiers, and while a troop attacked from front, Yoshitsune secretly ran down the bluff on the horse at the head of their soldiers. His soldiers were very afraid to run down, because it seemed to be impossible. The buff seems to be too precipitous for both horses and men, and then they saw a deer run dawn the bluff.
There is a famous sentence which is considered to be Yoshitusne's words: If it was possible for a deer -why not for humans. When Yoshitsune and his soldiers run down the bluff, Taira clan were caught off-guard, and was routed.
This military exploits made Yoshitsune a person in the spotlight. But brother Yoshitomo didn't authorize Yoshitsune's military exploits. If you found the picture, which is samurai on the horse are running down the precipitous bluff, it must be Yoshitsune in this battle. Battle of Dannoura(1185)--- Last battle against Taira, Minamoto's 840 battle ships against Taira's 500 battle ships. At first tide flew from Taira to Minamoto, and Taira's ship rode its tide and scooted arrows, and were dominant over Minamoto. Ships of Minamoto had to struggle to go against the tide. But Yoshitsune's tact turned the tables. Yoshitsune ordered to shoot boatmen of everything. Taira's ships lost their boatmen, and lost their way. Minamoto's soldiers took to the Taira's ship and attacked with swords. Some of the Taira clan threw themselves into the sea, some were shot and some were cut with swords. And the battle against Taira clan completely ended here.
Before this battle, there were another famous battle - battle of Yashima, and Yoshitsune made sparkling military exploits also at this battle. We often find motifs which are dyed battle scene on the sea, which are seemed to be the scenes of these two battles.
However, his brother Yoritomo didn't authorize Yoshitsune's military exploits finally. On the contrary Yoritomo ordered to kill Yoshitsune as a rebel. Yoshitsune's wife was caught by Yoritomo, and their baby were thrown into the sea. Yoshitsune killed himself at Oshu. He and his 10 followers were surround 500 soldiers of his brother Yoritomo. Among last 10 followers there was Benkei. He fought to death with halberd. He was shot many arrows in his body, and said to be died standing death. There was a strong bond between Yoshitune and Benkei since Benkei was defeated by Yoshitune--Yoshiturne was very young and was still called as `Ushiwakamaru'. Benkei devoted himself to Yoshitsune since then and was determined himself to protect Yoshitusne for a life time. When they knew their end was coming--Benkei told Yoshitune to wait at the corner where 6 after-death world( both celestial and nether regions )start and Yoshitune replied `I wish to see you after this world if possible, where there is no battles but heaven'. Benkei wanted to protect Yoshitsune as long as he could, so he was said that he died standing. Yoshitsune's life was a full of tragedy--with his beloved brother's betrayal and the parting with his most trustful man. He had to fight but his fate was cruel.
Yoshitune is probably one of the most beloved character because of his tragic life. You know by now, both Oishi and Yoshitune are tragic figures and the loyal sentiment are highly appreciated by Japanese people. By now I am almost crying just introduicing this story...I need a Kleenex...excuse me.

No36 -17 November 2003
Here in Japan, it is getting cooler and cooler, and riding motorcycle at night is becoming a not so happy thing.( I always commute by small motorcycle. ) We are at the height of the fall foliage, and on weekend many people go to see the colorful autumn leaves. Here is the 'Autumn Tints Map'.
Japan map are colored by the degree of color. Green( not begin to turn red), red (the most admirable to look at), brown (ended ). We are in the middle of its map, so we are just at the height of autumn tints. This weekend, unfortunately our family doesn't have a time to go to see the autumn tints. So please enjoy these beautiful photos with me.
As I wrote in the previous mail, I would like to write about Yoshitsune and Oishi Kuranosuke. In this mail I would like to write about Yoshitune.
Yoshitsune Minamoto was born in 1159, and named Ushiwakamaru. His father was killed by Kiyomori Taira, who was the substantive ruler then. His mother is Tokiwa and she had three children and Yoshitsune is the youngest. Kiyomori was going to kill Tokiwa and three children to avoid the reprisal. Tokiwa hid in Nara district with three children, but Tokiwa's mother was caught by Kiyomori. Tokiwa couldn't abandon her mother, and went to see Kiyomori, and asked for leave. Tokiwa was exceptionally beautiful lady, and said to be compared favorably with Yangguifei. She was the servant of the Empress, and one who selected as most beautiful lady among a thousand beautiful servants, who were all selected all over Japan. Kiyomori allowed Tokiwa's mother and children in exchange Tokiwa becoming his lady.
Yoshitsune was sent to a temple, and was raised there. He studied hard everyday. When he was at sixteen years old, he was said that his father was killed by Kiyomori Taira, and his elder brother Yoritomo was also sent to Izu. At that time he also became to know his origins of Minamoto with many tale of heroism. Yoshitsune made up his mind to defeat Kiyomori Taira, and trained mistral arts more harder. He trained in the temple of deep mountain at the midnight, and was said to wield a Japanese sword against the evil spirits of the mountains and rivers.
At this time there is a famous anecdote of the meeting with Benkei. --- One night Yoshitsune was walking across the Gojyo bridge(in Kyoto) with playing the flute , Benkei bared Yoshitsune's way with halberd. Benkei said ' I won 999 sword here. Hand your sword , which will be 1000th.' Yoshitsune ignored Benkei, and was going to walk through. Benkei wielded his halberd, but Yoshitsune jumped up to the handrail of the bridge. Benkei wielded again and again, but every time Yoshitune flew and Benkei could not caught him. Benkei exhausted and finally fell down. Benkei abandoned 1000th swords, and became a follower of Yoshitsune over the course of his life. This anecdote is very famous, and at first I heard it from my mother. Especially boys born pre WWII, Yoshitsune had to be the first and most important hero.
We often see the pattern from this anecdote in the lining of haori, and in the boy's miyamairi kimono. Almost all of them we listed our site were sold, but best item remain here.
The pattern of this particular haori lining is artistic and exceptionally vivid, isn't it?
Later Yoshitsune won many difficult battles, and defeated Kiyomori Taira. But in spite of his brilliant military exploits Yoshitsune's life ended in tragedy. Its story makes Yoshitsune very popular hero. But it is too long to write in one news letter. I would like to write a little bit at a time, among the kimono and Japanese textile themes. We are very sorry for the trouble about message board for long time. We restart message board with 'Daikan' san's help. Please join and enjoy the message board.

No35 -10 November 2003
Today is the day of nationwide election, so we are going to vote at evening. We Japanese are in the sense of stagnation, because of long time depression, deteriorating security and uncertainty about the future. Especially sharp decline in the number of births induce the serious problem of public pension. Nowadays so many young people don't pay national pension premiums, because they can not convince that they will getnational pension after they retire. Government finally has started totelevise the public advertising to persuade young people to pay the premiums, which uses a popular actress. Pension problem is one of the dominant campaign issue.
I went to Nagoya this morning, and got several supreme vintage uchikake. We are going to list them within a few days. We wish you would like them.Today I am going to write about a little about 'samurai'. Of course there doesn't remain samurai with Japanese sword and topknot in Japan.Only sumo wrestlers do up their hair in topknot, and no one is allowed to bring Japanese sword. To describe what samurai is in short is impossible but if we could say in very short, they are extremely stoic and live for the fidelity to their lord--as you know they would not care to shed their blood for the lord. As you imagine, in TV drama, cinema, comics and play samurai stories are popular here. It may be very similar to the cowboy pictures in USA. Our daughter Shoko, she is a high school girl, did cusume play at their campus festival, and she wrote the playscript and acted minor part in it. We proudly contributed many kimono and hakama to their classmates. (We went to see the play of course--the story seemed a little bit complicated,but we enjoyed the enthusiasm of youth and found the students enjoyingplaying very much.)In general, samurai drama are fully made fictionally, and made as pure entertainment.On the other hand, there are some very famous 'samurai' characters, who often become central characters of dramas. How many characters do you know among the list below?
a, Yoshitsune Minamoto
b, Musashi Miyamoto
c, Kenshin Uesugi
d, Nobunaga Oda
e, Hideyoshi Toyotomi
f, Kuranosuke Oishi (Chushingura)
g, Isamu Kondo ( Shinsengumi )
b, Musashi Miyamoto - Noted swordsman, author of 'Gorin no sho' (1584? -1645). He is thought to be the strongest swordsman in history. He won 60duels, during 13 to 29 years old. He use two swords ' Nitouryu' at the battle. His 'Gorin no sho' have been read as the book of maxim, as much as the swordsmanship.
c, Kenshin Uesugi, Lord of Echigo (1530 - 1578). He is thought to be thevery stoic man, and one of the most strong and brave military commander. The battle of Kawanakajima, war against Shingen Takeda is the one of themost famous battle in history.
d, Nobunaga Oda - Daimyo of Owari and the first of the "Three Unifiers" (1534- 1582). He is thought to be the one of the most innovative daimyo. He was an eccentric young gay, and followings of his father characterized him as an out-and-out fool. But he used firearms systematically, which were just came to Japan, and won many battles.
e, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Unifier of Japan, Kampaku (1536 - 1598). He was the son of the poor of farmer, and became the follower of Nobunaga Oda,and finally became the Unifuier of Japan. His success story is often quoted in business stories. He has many anecdotes, and famous one is 'in cold winter morning he heated his boss Nobunaga's straw sandals with his bosom in kimono.
g, Isamu Kondo, Leader of Shinsengumi (1834? - 1868 ). He was the leader of Kyoto Police at the end period of Edo Goverment. He didn't have broad outlook and foresight, but his one-track way of allegiance to Shogun attract many people. I have found informative samurai page in English.
You can read more stories about some samurai above.I omitted the discription of Yoshitsune Minamoto and Kuranosuke Oishi,because these two persons are very often become the motif of kimono, and has a little bit long story I want to write. They are both heros of tragedy and symbol of samurai, and have dramatic scenes in their stories.Every December, there are the plays and drams to commemorate the tragedyof Chusingura--the story of undying fidelity. I would like to write about them in the next news letters.

No34 -7 November 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter. Autumn is deepening--this is a Japanese expression but we hope you know what I mean--and cosmos flowers(Mexican aster)are blooming in autumn breeze. Today is Sunday, and our online shop is closed. I ( Ichiro ) went to Toji Temple Market in Kyoto today after a long time interval. As I wrote in past news letter, the big temple sales are held on 21 and 25 every month. And on the first Sunday of every month, a little smaller temple sale is held in Toji Temple in Kyoto. The number of the shops are approximately a half compared with the other larger two markets, but almost all major kimono sellers open shops there. I woke up at four in the morning, and did high-speed drive to Kyoto. I would like you to come with me to the market and walk with me in a temple compound in early chilly morning. At five in the morning, ( it is still dark), the gate of the temple is opened. Cars of the shopkeepers and shoppers drive into the temple, and shopkeepers start building their handy shops. Some shoppers stand aside and wait before the particular shops for the timing they allow to look for their favorites. Bundles of the kimono, which are tied with bonds, are thrown down from shopkeepers cars, and suddenly the shopping time starts. Almost every shoppers have electric torch, and put a light to torch at the side of the bundles, and rush to check the items in silent. If shoppers pick out the items they want, they draw out from the bundles and put them aside. And without careful check, shoppers go back to check other items. After they pick up their favorites, they ask the shopkeeper to hold them, and hurry to other shops. Almost those shoppers gathering in particular shops are familiar faces each other. Almost all of them are kimono shop owners, and we see each other in kimono dealers auctions too. There opened many shops, but only several shops are 'Ubudashi-ya-san', and these shops sell their kimono at cheaper prices than other shops. So at these several shops, kimono shop owners gather at first. 'Ubudashi' means ' buying kimono from ordinary people' ( - especially not from other kimono dealers ). Some kimono are too expensive for ordinary kimono fans, and they only go around within the kimono dealers. But the kimono of 'Ubudashi' comes to second hand kimono market for the first time, they don't have the kimono-dealers-price yet. So sometimes some of them are very rare kimono, and some are very cheap compared with the kimono dealers auction price. Ubudashi-ya-san are most of the cases very busy concentrating on collecting items from ordinary people and seems not to have enough time to research the current market price well. If you come to these temple market, you had better come very early in the morning, with a flash light. But it may be difficult to compete with Japanese kimono shop owners. If you could find me or blonde haired man( Ryujiro - our wonderful friend and a rival ) , you could ask us which shops are Ubudashi. We may tell the wrong shops or already bought shops ---- just a joke. I promise to give you a good advise.

Now I must write about a recent big change regarding these temple market. Only a year or two years ago, we could buy many kimono at very moderate price from ubudashi-ya-san. However, these days almost all ubudashi-ya-san sell their good kimono at kimono dealers auction. As I wrote in past news letter, the prices of the kimono dealers auctions often become far higher than retail prices.n a few years ago, some kimono dealers bought many kimono from ubudashi-ya-san, and sold them at kimono dealers auctions, and gained huge profit in a blink of an eye. These days the retail sale is not good, but the kimono dealers auctions are exciting. These days Ubudashi-ya-san sell their best kimono at kimono dealers auction, and gain the deserving profit. So shop owners who gather before the ubudashi-ya-san's shop in the dawn become less than before. I also become very rare to go these temple markets. Today I could only buy 10-20 items, and didn't get some special kimono but fortunately, I could obtain beautiful Japanese papers from familiar ubudahi-ya-san. Its pattern is exceptionally classic and beautiful, and they must be the wonderful material for handicraft.

We hope you enjoyed the trip to the temple market. I forgot to say there are not only kimono shops but also all kinds of interesting goods are also sold there and we are sure you will enjoy visiting these market as well as other famous sightseeing spots.

It is unbelievable -- we have only two months left in this year. We wish all of you our best for the rest of the days of this year.

No33 -28 October 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter by Ichiro. Here in Japan, pro baseball is very popular, and Hanshin Tigers may have captured the Japan Series crown after 18 years. They lost tonight so we will know who is the champion tomorrow night. We are also very excited in the fine showings by Matsui (New York Yankees) at World Series. Recently the J league(pro soccer) became popular, but the most popular pro sports in Japan is still baseball. When I was a boy, our hero is Hyuma Hoshi, who is the central character of pro baseball comics 'Kyoji-no-hoshi( Star of the Yomiuri Kyojin Giants) . When I was young, I wanted to be a writer, but when I was more younger, I dreamed to be a pro baseball player like other ordinary boys. Of course, I had to recognize I was not talented in sport later. Boys are born to be disappointed again and again as they grow up. Sigh.

I wrote I have one heartwarming story about 'ai'. I would like to introduce the story of Tsuyako Iwata who was an ordinary country woman but who played an indispensable role in ai dye stuff.

During the WWII government prohibited the cultivation of 'ai' ( 'tade'- flora of polygonaceae ), because all agricultural land and blank spaces had to be used to produce food. During the WWII Japanese had to suffer long-term privations, and all things had to be used only for war or to live. Japan military police was stern and cruel, and they were said that they used to torture suspect. Actually, one famous writer who was a socialist was tortured to death. People feared military police as much as the enemy. Tade is annual grass. If tade is not grown and not took seeds only one year, the tade spicies will die out. Heisuke Sato, who was the prominent aishi(who grow tade and make a material for ai dyeing stuff)in Tokushima, continued to grow tade and take seeds for several years keeping secret from military police in desolate place. If this was exposed, Heisuke and his relative must have been in serious trouble. With Heisuke san' s great courage and wisdom, tade spicies survived. Heisuke san never told who actually grew them at which place--he kept secret and he never answered even when his family asked about it after the WWII if over. He worried to bring some troubles to Tsuyako san.

Akihito Sato is a grandchild of Heisuke san who was inherited from the father. Ai growing is a traditional work which is conveyed by its heredity--just like Kabuki. 3 years ago( in 2000 ) Akihito Sato, who also is a prominent aishi attended Buddhist sermon which was held at his sister, Yone's house. At Yone's house, Akazawa ( grandchild of Yone san) said Akihito san that Tsuyako Iwata grew tade in the mountain secretly. Akihito san went to the field in the mountain with Mr. Akazawa, and saw the tade field which now became wilderness.
After 55 years, Akihito san and people come to know who really grew tade in spite of serious risk. Tsuyako Iwata san protected 'ai' with her life!
Without her courage Japanese natural ai had to die completely. Akihito san put up a monument of her at the place where the secret filed existed.

I am moved deeply by this story. Tsuyako san didn't get any return,especially didn't want even honor.
This story is from book ' Japanese Ai - Tradition & Creation '( by Japanese ai culture association ) .

Today We have listed haori, obi, karinui fabric and silk bolt. We will be very happy if you could take a look at these new arrivals!

During cold season we always say each other--`Kazeni kio tuskete', It literally means, `Take care not to catch a cold'. It sounds meddlesome,but we say this `greeting' when we say good-bye to each other. We also say ` a fool never catch a cold. If there is someone who doesnot catch a cold, he is -proving the toughness of health and also he is a fool.We imagine there may be snow at the place where some of our customers live. Even you have a snow or do not have a snow, `dozo kazeni kiotsukete'
No32 -21 October 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter by Ichiro. Here in Japan it is the autumn festival 'Akimatsuri' season. Also in our Tondabayashi town where our office exists, festival floats are marching today and tomorrow. In old town like Tondabayashi autumn festival is inherited, but the emerging towns don't seem to have autumn
or any other festivals. When I was a boy, our town had autumn festival, and I was very very proud when I became old enough to wear a festival happi and carry a 'mikoshi' portable shrine. But like our condominium building, which were built about 10 years ago, and approx 500 household live - and it is almost small town itself - the relationship of the town community is diluted, and boys don't have a chance to carry a mikoshi. Sigh...

In this letter as I wrote in the previous mail, I am going to write about 'Ai', Japanese natural indigo. Many customers let us know their taste of indigo. For some customers Japanese natural indigo 'ai'may not be so familiar, so I would like to write about ai today.

Indigo('ai') is the colorant which contains blue pigment. It is made from some sort of flora, and now it is also synthesized chemically. Jeans are dyed with synthetic indigo. Mass-produced kasuri are also dyed with synthetic indigo, but antique kasuri and today's high class kasuri are dyed with pure natural indigo.

Synthetic indigo was invented in 1880 in Germany, and it is same material as natural indigo, and it is high-octane and can be mass-produced at a low price. So the synthetic indigo displaced natural indigo in most field. But here in Japan, the almost descending natural indigo survived, and its value is rediscovered.

The differences of the natural and synthetic indigo are material and solubilize method. Japanese indigo is made from 'tade' ( flora of polygonaceae ), and to solubilize the indigo it is fermented. Synthetic indigo is synthesized chemically, and reduced chemically. This difference make the natural indigo * more beautiful, deep and impressive color.* Synthetic indigo will discolored, and its dye transfer to other fabrics. Natural indigo will not discolored, and the lye will be washed out, its blue color will become more vivid.

From Edo period (1603-1867) Tokushima ( in Shikoku district) had been the producing center of ai.
Photo of Tadeai is here.

In middle of March, the indigo plant seeds are planted in the fields, when swallows return from the South Asia. Return of the swallow teach the day, when there will not be cold days any more. In April the small plants are transplanted. In July the plants are harvested for the first time, following by a second harvest in August. The harvested leaves are spread out on an open area under the strong summer sun for one or two days. After the leaves have been dried, the leaves and stems are separated. The remaining leaves are further dried and will later be fermented and used to make‘sukumo' and eventually Ai.

In September leaves are heaped up to 60" tall in the store room on the 'nedoko' (particular bed for ai leaves). Water are soused over them every five days. After soused the water, leaves are mixed with pitchfork. In October leaves are in ferment, the store room is filled with ammonia gas, and the temperature of nedoko become 150 degrees F. In lage winter,
leaves are covered with straw mats to avoid the low temperature. Through these elaborate heavy works, in December 'sukumo' is completed, and are sent to dyers in all over Japan.

Indigo of 'sukumo' will not dissolve in water alone, and the process of changing the solid indigo into a liquid solution is called“making the dye - aidate." First, sukumo, alkali, 'aku'( wood ashes) and sake(!) are mixed in a special pot called an‘ai game.' Five days to one week later the surface of the solution becomes a bluish- purple color and the liquid underneath becomes a brown color. At this stage the solution can be used to dye various materials.The bubbles which appear on the surface are called“indigo flowers - ai no hana."

After dipping the cloth in the dye, it first turns brown. Next the cloth becomes an indigo blue color, but has green hues. Finally, the cloth is washed in water and a splendid blue color appears.

Japanese natural indigo dye process has very unique these processes. The beauty and variety of natural indigo Ai comes from these incredible and elaborate hard works.

Here is the photos of Mr. Moriyama's aigame, which I took when I visited Mr. Moriyama's factory in Kurume.

Here is the good page about Japanese ai in English.

I can tell you here is a exceptionally heartwarming story about Japanese traditional indigo. Its story touch my heartstrings! I will write the story in the next news letter.

No31 -14 October 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's news letter by Ichiro. We always thank you for your orders and attention to our items. We would like to introduce more kimono and Japanese fabrics more widely and deeply.

Last week I (Ichiro) went to Kurume in Kyushu district. Kurume locates in Kyusyu island, which is the southest island in the four large islands of Japan. It took approx four hours and a half from our office by train. As some customers already know Kurume is famous for its cotton kasuri('Kurume Gasuri'), and at a time Kurume is the town of rubber industry. There is the large factory of Bridgestone(one of the famous tyres maker in the world), Asashi Corporation and MOONSTAR CHEMICAL CORPORAITION, which are the biggest rubber footwear maker in Japan. Near the Kurume station, I smelled slight rubber. Oka san, who is the manager of the Kurume Kasuri whole sale company, said it was the smell of the Kurume. He had been worked for footwear maker, and he always smelled rubber for over 15 years. Oka san took me to the hill, where we can command a panoramic view of Kurume. I saw large plain spread(Tsukushi Plains), and in the center of green rice paddy the Chikugo River flows. Tsukushi Plains is very fertile, and is famous rice-producing district. So the wives and farmers and girls in this fertile plain had been produced beautiful Kurume Kasuri.

Oka san told me the actual condition of Kurume Kasuri. Kurume Gasuri has three essential processes -
1) Kukuri - yarn are tied with Arasou to before dyeing
2) Dyed with Ai - dyed with natural Japanese 'ai'(indigo)
3) Weave
Please check our previous news letter more about details of these processes( ).
Now in Kurume, approx 150,000 kasuri bolt are produced in a year. And 140,000 are woven and 'Kukuri' with machine, and half of them are for monpe( pants for agricultural work) and another half for kimono. 10,000 bolts are woven by hand and 'Kukuri' by machine, and only 120(!) bolts are made by hand through all processes. 120 bolts are made by some few
craft men, and they are sold to a few Kurume Kasuri whole sellers. To carry on the traditional Kurume Kasuri technique, government give price supports to craft men and whole sellers. The retail price of the all hand made Kurume Kasuri costs approx $5,000-$10,000. You may feel it is too expensive for cotton bolt. But to weave Kurume Kasuri by hand, it will take three months! Average monthly wage of Japanese is $3,200, and if calculate the cost with average wage, only the labor-cost will be $3,200x3=$9,600. So the without the price
supports the retail cost will be triply or fourfold.

I visited three factories with Oka san. First we visited Mr. Torao Moriyama, who is the most famous weaver in Kurume, and he is 'important intangible cultural heritage'.
I also visited Nomura Weaving Inc., who makes both machine weaving kasuri and hand woven kasuri. We have listed some kasuri bolt made by them. Mass production Kurume Kasuri of them are woven by machine by crikey, but if you look their process, you will find that they also need manipulative and adjustment skills. Machines look old-fashioned, and are
not computer-controlled. In the factory, Japanese craftsman ship spirit is filled.

Here is some photos which I took in Kurume. We are very happy you could check here.

We have listed some kasuri bolt made by Nomura Weaving Inc at our site. Please check the beautiful kasuri pattern.

We bought some bolts from Oka san.
They can be divided three groups by its quality and weaving process.
1) Hand Weaving / Double Ikat / Pure 'Ai' Dyed
2) Hand Weaving / Weft Ikat ( 'Yokoso')/ Picturesque Pattern / Pure 'Ai' Dyed
3) Machine Weaving / Double Ikat
Our prices per bolt have to be 1) $900 2) $680 3) $230, so we decide to sell them by meter or per design.
We are very happy if you could visit and check our Kurume Kasuri collection.

We have more stories about Kurume Kasuri. Especially I fell we have to tell more about 'Ai'(Japanese indigo). I would like to write about 'ai' in the next news letter.
We also have listed several rare kazuki(funeral kimono). Especially the hemp kazuki is very rare.

Thank you very much for reading to the end! Arigatou gozaimasu! :-)

No30 -7 October 2003
Hello from Japan. Here in Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter by Ichiro. The autumn breeze carries the sweet scent of osmanthus. The scent and the cheering voice and marching band of children practicing for `Undokai'(Sports Day)are the rites of autumn. At Undokai, footrace, relay and also dance or exercise performance are shown and parents and grandparents come with the video cameras and lunch boxes. It is a big event and we all have a nice or sometimes sad memories(for people who are not so athletic)about Undokai. When we talk about Undokai we can almost smell the sweet smell of mikan(tangerine). Usually parents brought mikan as a refreshment.

In this letter, I would like to write about 'tatami'matress. Maybe mostreaders already know 'tatami'. As the ordinarily said, Japanese traditional house are basically made of wood and paper ( and clay wall). Rooms are raised approx 12" above the ground, flooring tatami(rush mats) cover floors of wooden boarding, and sliding paper door ('fusuma') and sliding paper screen ( 'shouji') are suded as partition. The house I(Ichiro) lived when I was a boy, was built with Japanese old style. All floorswere covered with tatami except the corridor. Our family ate on the low table, sitting on the 'zabuton'(Japanese cushion). Father sit withcorss-legged ( 'agura'), and other members sit straight('seiza'). Dinner room became the bed room of my parents after the dinner. Zabuton and lowtable( ' zataku ' ) are removed, and futon( Japanese bedding) were spreaded on the tatami. The legs of low table usually can be folded,and can be stashed compactly. Futon and zabuton also can stashed compactly in armoire ('oshiire'). We never go inside with shoes on, justas westerner never stand on bed with shoes on. So we can lie on the tatami, or sit on it to eat. We also wear kimono or other wears with dragging the bottom on the tatami floor. Of course tatami room can be a nice study too. As you can see, tatami room is very factual, and tatami make the using room efficiently and functually.
Some westerner who have lived in Japan often say, ' How nice if I couldbring tatami back to my country! '
Tatami have moderate firmness and softness, and smooth touch of rushes.Especially in the summer its cool touch gives us good feeling. After several years use, we need to replace the surface rush of tatami. It smells very well, when surface is replaced.
One tatami mat measures about 35.1/2" x 70", and we express the room size by its numbers of tatami mats. My room was 6 'jyou' which means 6 tatami make one room. The tatami size was considered to be made as this size at Sengoku period(war period -- approx 1460-1600). A tatami could be used as a shield for samurai when they had unexpected enemy' attack.
To sit on tatami, sitting straight ('seiza') is the proper way. Since the legs are folded under so that the body rests on the heels. As you imagine, 'seiza' for a long time is painful for us, who are not accustomed to it. But 'seiza' give us the some spirit to us. When I was a child, my father used to say ancient great men sit to study too long time to cave the tatami mat in. Kimono is made to live on tatami mat. If you are going to wear kimono, you must practice to sit straight. :-O
To sit down, 1) take back the right leg a little, 2) lower the knees and put the right knee to the floor, 3) put the left knee on the floor. Just before the putting down the knees to the flower, stroke the left front bodice to avoid making wrinkles by right hand.

Modern Japanese house are losing tatami because of the westernising. We live condominium building, and our condominium have only one tatami room. Living room, two daughters rooms are all wood floor, and daughters sleeps on the beds. Only our sleeping room are covered with 6 tatami mats. I sometimes dream to live in the old traditional Japanese house in the rural district.

No29 -2 October 2003
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter Here in Japan, autumn has come. It is getting cooler and cooler. When I(Ichiro) and three staffs come to our office by motorcycle, we need jacket to avoid the cold. At the rice paddy, it is the harvest season.

When I was a child ( approx 35 years ago ), I used to go to school walking through the rice paddy. As many customers know, our staple food is rice. From ancient days, people breed rice, and when I was a child, there remained many rice paddy even in cities.In the winter, rice paddy don't have the rice and water, but when spring comes in the many paddy 'renge'(Chinese milk vetch) bloom. Girls used to play with renge flowers. Yuka(she is from Nara--near the famous deer park)has nice memories of playing for hours in the renge field. Right by her house was a renge field so she spent hours there everyday--making garlands, lying down on the ground and sucking the sweet flower nectar. Unfortunately, renge field are not seen everywhere any more.

In the spring, it is filled with water, and the young rice plants are planted. They are planted in a complete order and beautiful. Many aquatic insect and tadpoles are in the water of the paddy, we used to play around the paddy--taking back tadpoles and wait for them to grow.

In the summer rice grow tall, and in the autumn, paddy become yellowgold for the full of the ears of a rice plants. We have a saying--`monoruhodo koubeo tareru inohokana'. It means the ears of rice bow more as they grow. It tells us the importance of humility. September is a typhoon season, so sometimes strong typhoon came, rice plants were blown down in a gale, and our parents became anxious about the rice and their owner(farmers). We were used to be told if we left a grain in our rice bowl, our eyes would be smashed--it may sound so odd but it means how precious each grain is and we should never waste each grain.

Rice paddy was very familiar to our life when I was a child. Of course many farmers breed rice mainly in the rural district, and still in the cities. But many rice paddy owners in cities made their paddy as parking lot or built condominium buildings, or sell their land. Now children in cities become unfamiliar with rice paddy, and they play with Playstation ( TV game ) instead of playing in the rice paddy.

My family name is 'Wada', and 'da' means rice paddy. 'Wa' means 'sum'or'harmony'. Many Japanese have 'da' in the family name. When I asked my mother about our family origin , she said our ancestor may be farmer or small landlord. ( Of course I expected our ancestor was a Samurai ! )

Speaking of paddy, I remind the Oshima-tsumugi. Most famous tsumugi - Oshima-tsumugi is dyed with 'Teichigi( woodchips from a red-bark tree ) and MUD, which has rich iron. Really the silk threads are dipped in the paddy ( for the Oshima dyeing ). It is incredible scene, through the mud dyeing the Oshima-tsumugi get the beautiful brown and smooth texture. Near future I think we must introduce Oshima-tsumugi at our site with more information.

No28 -22 September 2003
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's New Letter. We had a rainy weekend(It was thought to be because of a typhoon passed)but we hope you had a nice and relaxing weekend. I would like to write about the auspicious motifs in this letter. There are many motifs used in kimono design, and many of them have auspicious
meanings. For some customers, the motifs may not look `auspicious'--we will try to write the origin of these motifs.

* Pine tree ( 'matsu')
* Bamboo ( 'take')
* Ume blossom
--Pine tree and bamboo have green leaves also in winter. Ume blossom bloom in frosty winter. In China, these three were called ' Three Friends in Frosty Winter', and it symbolizes the person of great rectitude. Pine tree motif has many variety. 'Kasa-matsu' ( pine needles in braided hat shape ), 'waka-matsu'( very young pine tree with sprouts ), 'matsuba-chirashi'( pine needles pattern Bamboo motif is sometimes used with sparrows ( 'take-ni-suzume'), snow ( 'yuki-mochi-take'). These trees are still very close to us in modern Japan. Many ume blossom are planted in gardens, bamboo and pine trees are spontaneously grow.

* Crane
* Tortoise
-- In Japan, crane is said to has a thousand years longevity, and tortoise is said to have ten thousand years longevity . Tortoises are close to our life, and they are still thought to be sainted animals in part. Once when I was a child, and I brought a tortoise to my home. When we released him to the river, my father provided him with sake. In our mind, tortoise has the impressive image of 'Urashima Taro' ( folk story ). In its story tortoise carried Urashima Taro to the Ryugu-castle, because he helped the tortoise from evil boys.Sometimes tortoises in kimono have alga in their back, which are thought to be attached because they live so long time. Its tortoise is called 'mino- kame'( tortoise with straw raincoat). I examine the real longevity of crane and tortoise now, and found that crane live 20-30 years and tortoise live 30-50 years. Some giant tortoise were seen that they lived more than 150 years. I relieved the tortoises don't have joyful life time far longer than me! Crane and tortoise are the auspicious motifs, which symbolize the long life.

*Phoenix ( 'houou')
In China phoenix was thought to be the auspicious bird, which appears when the country is peace with a ruler of virtue. It is thought to live in paulownia, and eat the bamboo seed.

*Takara-zukushi ( collection of treasures)
Takarasukushi motifs are often seen in our kimono and obi. Sometimes they are on the ship, and it is called 'takara-bune'(treasure ship).
'Houjyu' One of the tool of Tantric Buddhism. It can make any we want.
'Uchideno-kozuchi' If it is shaken, our all wishes are fulfilled.
'Tsutsumori' Tube for sutra. 'Kakure-mino' If you wear this straw rain-cape, you can' not seen by others. It is said that long-nosed goblin ('Tengu') have this mallet.
'Kakure-gasa' This straw hat is also said to be able to disappeared from others.
'Fundou' Spindle, which are made of gold or silver. It is prepared for the emergency.
'Houkan, makijiku' Scroll of the sutra.
'Houyaku' The key of the store house.
'Kinou, Kinchaku' Bags for money, amulet or spice, and made of gorgeous silk textile.
'Choji' Clove. This spice was imported in Heian period, and it was very valuable goods.
These motifs are not familiar with modern Japanese. I only knew 'Uchidenokozuchi', when I started our business.

No27 -15 September 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter. Here in Japan, it is still hot--it is usually much cooler at this time of the year but we had rather cold summer with less sunshine, so it is as if sun is guilty and giving us more sunshine now. We hope the cooler autumn comes soon, and we can enjoy 'kouyou'(the autumn colour of leaves). The particular kind of trees we Japanese wait with strongest anticipation is maple trees. The colord maple leaves are our favorites and there are some songs about the autumn maple leaves too. (Akino yuuhini teruyama mamiji....)
We will write about the kouyo other letter in its just season.

Today I would like to write about investment(!?!?). You may be hearing about investment everyday, and you may be investing in stock or estate. As you know, I am not a professional of investment, and we do not have any stocks or estate. Frankly said, we lost much money in estate. We bought condominium apartment approx 15 years ago, and sold two years ago. We had to cry for the price went down quite much. The prices of estate never went down like this in Japan before. So sensible customer MUST not read this letter in your face, or you may lose money like us!

We hope you understand my advice--never trust me!
Here we go!

Vintage kimono probably can be categorized into three types.One group is for wearing. Kimono lovers buy them and enjoy wearing them with great care. Next group is for display. Some kimono collectors will collect many items to display them. People use them as unique interior displays with their artistic flair--we are always so surprised by the ideas of displays. All the beautiful photos sent by our customers taught us how much fixed idea we had and how wonderfully the kimono and obi match in every house. The last group kimono is for the material for handicraft. Some customers will cut the fabrics, for their project--quilting, sewing garments for their own or kimono for dolls. So this group of kimono are 'consumed'. Once the kimono are cut for handicraft, fabrics become small, and can beused for only more small size handicraft. Some kimono which has some defects as stains or tears in some part and cannot be used as a garment, still can be used as a material for handicraft for its unique patterns, colors or technique.

As a matter of fact, all vintage kimono never increase, and as an antique they are growing in value. If the items become popular, the price will rise surprisingly. For example, meisen kimono are very cheap ( 500yen - 1000yen) only five years ago. But now the price is from 2000yen to 8000yen, and if the design is rare and interesting, the price often exceed 10000yen. Meisen kimono turned to become very popular among young kimono wearers recently and they wear them not quite in traditional way but with their own style.
In addition to this situation, the third group kimono is decreasing because they are 'consumed'. A type of vintage kimono were spined by hand, dyed with natural dyed by hand and woven with seated loom('izaribata'), and textile has exceptionally soft and homely touch. They are the workmanship when people in Japan were not rich, and the incredible endurance and inherited tradition were alive in ordinary people. Such kind of textile become very rare in modern Japan. Of course few survivors are weaving and dyeing in traditional ways in some production area, but the prices are very high reflect the labor cost. Eventually this type of kimono can not be re-produced, and are decreasing constantly. Here are the typical textiles of this group.

* Kasuri - Especially 'Kurume-kasuri' and 'e-kasuri'(picturesque design kasuri) are popular. Hand woven type from pre WWII cost more than $100, but they are worthwhile.

* Chirimen & Kinsya - Here in Japan, chirimen and kinsha ( crepe silk ) are exceptionally popular for the material for handicraft. As you know,
crepe silk have very soft touch, doll makers like it. Our staff Junko san also love making dolls. Chirimen has very wide price range. Jyuban made of chirimen will cost from $300 to $1000. People especially like the small pattern, and graceful colors - because they are excellent for doll's kimono.If the design is not suitable for small doll, the price will not be high. Here is the beautiful kimono dolls photo made by Uni san's master.

If you have excess cash, you might collect kasuri or chirimen! That is top secret for our mail news readers. The price of them will be DOUBLE within ten years!

But as I wrote before, this is an advice from us, who lost money in estate. DON'T BE SERIOUS!

I have been wondering about this idea, and recently I noticed one point.If I buy $10,000 of Chirimen, and after 10 years it can sell at $20,000, is this investment better than others? If there are solid investment, which we gain 5% in a year, $1000 will be approx $1600 during ten years.I wonder why the chirimen investment doesn't have overwhelming advantage over 5% investment in spite of the anticipation for the rapid rise. Finally I have noticed. Ordinarily we can gain the compound interest through the investment, but the chirimen investment is on a simple interest basis! To gain the compound interest basis, we must sell all the stocks and buy the same amount every year! Selling will cost some, and buying also has some risks!

I am very sorry for this curtain fall. :-)
There must not be the sweat deal. But if you are captivated by the kasuri or chirimen, we think the value of collection of them never decrease its value. If you give a chance to advice you, you had better collect the best pieces. Your collection must enjoy you for long time,and may give you the large interest after the long years.

We hope you do not think we are always thinking kimono as an object of investment. We see both old items and new items but we are always surprised and amazed by the charms and techniques of old items and we are so happy to see these items being worn, displayed or used for a sewing project--afther their long time sleep. To know that they are given a wonderful new home by traveling quite a lot of distance is a great pleasure for us.

No26 -8 September 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter. Here in Japan, the summer has been not so hot as usual summer but The lingering summer heat is intense since September has started.

Sometimes we are asked about the season-coordinate of kimono. We would like to mention a little about kimono motifs and seasons. You must have noticed that kimono usually have sense of the season by using the motifs--it may be very similar to the season words in `Haiku' in this sense.

In Japan four seasons are very clearly defined, and seasons are very important for aesthetic feeling of kimono. In early autumn, People wear hitoe(not lined) kimono, and tie the obi made of ro ( summer sheer silk) or hemp, and they have autumn motif design on them. In this Indian summer season people wear the kimono to show the impatient autumn image. Representative motifs are

'susuki' - grass tree
'kuri' - Japanese common chestnut
'ominaeshi' - a perennial plant with yellow flowers of the family Valerianaceae

Generally said that we should take the motifs in advance, for a month or less but never be late before their bloom. Rasing the sense of anticipation of the next season is thought to be important. At the bloom of the season flowers, it is thought that we should not to wear their motifs. Because when the ominaeshi is full bloom, ominaishi dyed in kimono can not compete with real bloom of the ominaeshi. Of course there are the motifs which can be worn at all times of the year. If the flower motifs are stylized, and not realistic, their motifs can be worn at all times. 'Kisho-mon'( auspicious motif) also can be worn at all times - pine tree, bamboo, ume blossom, crane, tortoise, collection of treasures, treasure boat, phoenix, dragon and others. Multiple season flowers in one pattern also can be worn all year long. We would like to write about the seasonal motifs in future at each season.

In this letter I would like to write about 'tsumugi'. Tsumugi literally means `spinning yarn'. Tsumugi kimono may not be so familiar with many people but it is very popular here in Japan. For example, Yuki Tsumugi(most famous tsumugi silk in Japan) are sold at more than $10,000. Genuine Yuki-tsumugi demand incredible skilled handwork processes, and here in Japan people know its value. Here is the making process of Yuki Tsumugi and the products.

*It may sound contrary to what you might think but for tsumugi, damaged or double cocoon are used. Tsumugi is originated with farmers who hoped to use cocoons left over after they has shipped their best silk to the market.
* Degum the floss by immersing it in hot water, which contain baking soda and sulfurous acid.
*Several cocoons are formed into a small bag shape('mawata bukuro') - first photo of the above page, and put them to 'tsukushi'
*Several filaments are drawn from the floss at one time and formed a single thread. Spinner wets the thread with saliva, and without twisting the tsumugi threads are made. This technique needs skill and endurance, it is said that it take more than 60days to spin the full length for one kimono.(!) - Second photo of the above page.
* Threads are rolled up, first to bobbin, and next to the 'kase'. - the third photo is 'kase'.
* Portions of threads are tied by other threads with reference to the particular grid sheet. - forth photo.This process is called 'kasuri-shibari', and it is thought to be the work for men ( because it needs power to tie strongly). Kasuri pattern of Yuki Tsumugi has 'kiko'(tortoise shell) pattern, and there are four granularity levels from 80 kiko ( 80 tortoise shells in the one width of tanmono) to 200 kiko. To make one bolt for kimono approx hundred thousand knots are needed.
*Threads are dipped in the dye stuff and banged to the stone board. This process is done to dye the threads properly. When the tied threads are removed undyed part are remained, and when the textile is woven with this yarn, beautiful pattern is created with the warp and weft.
*Weaving is done on a seated loom, known as 'izaribata' or 'jibata'. Adjusting the tension of warp by the weaver's hip, weft are beaten in using the big shuttle. It takes two months or more to weave fabric for one kimono.
(*I have omitted some processes here.)

Generally said 'tsumugi' means the fabric made by tsumugi threads, which are spined with damaged or double cocoon, and through the specific process it has such a soft touch. On the contrary, 'kiito' is drawn as a single thread from flawless cocoon, and the textile woven with 'kiito' has smooth and even texture. If you touch the best Yuki Tsumugi, you would be astonished by its exceptionally soft touch. Beyond the chic design and soft touch, you must be able to imagine the incredible handwork was done. Actually Tsumugi are woven in many places and there are not only supreme Tsumugi as Yuki Tsumugi but also there are middle class tsumugi too.Some are spined or woven by machine, and costs are brought down to moderate price. Actually we think it is difficult to convey the touch of the tsumugi, we wish we could know the appropriate words to express its texture but no words or photos seem to convey the texture through the internet but we hope to offer tsumugi kimono in our site in the future.

Another famous 'tsumugi' - Oshima tsumugi is not actually made with tsumugi silk. (It must be confusing!) In early days it was made with tsumugi silk, but now it is made with 'kiito'. Touch of the Oshima Tsumugi and Yuki Tsumugi are far different. I would like to write about Oshima Tsumugi near future.

No25 -1 September 2003
Konnichiwa, hello from Japan.We hope you are enjoying the end of summer --we hope this summer brought you many happy things.

Most schools start on Sep 01 in Japan, so children are either enjoying the last day of their summer vacation or working very hard to finish up their homework they were given for the summer vacation. We are sure at this very minute, many parents are helping their children's homework --they are not only simple calculation but usually children are supposed to turn in an essay, craft, diary and some report so sometimes their family all have to cooperate in order to finish up everything!

I heard the result of survey questionnaires --nearly 100 % of people have an experience of wishing school to be burned or disappeared!
In autumn, there are usually many school events as athletic meeting and culture day. Autumn --which is a second semester for most of schools are for studying and also joining the events.

In these days meisen kimono became very popular among young ladies who enjoy wearing kimono in their everyday life. .Only five years ago or earlier, in sharp contrast to the yuzen dyed or oshima tsumugi, meisen kimono had not been valued. Only few people paid attention to the rich variety of the meisen pattern, and had collected rare pattern at amazing low prices. But the prices of the rare pattern meisen rose in the price suddenly in line with the gaining of thepopularity with young people. Young girls who are sensitive to the newest trends and fashions, seems to notice suddenly the beauty of meisen. They wear meisen completely free from traditional kimono rules, and enjoy the coordination of the rich colors and patterns. As if the meisen emerge on the cutting edge of fashion again after 50 years memory gap.

This is the poster of the 'Chichibu-Meisen' ( Chichi is the famous productive center of meisen ), which has the nostalgic atmosphere. The famous actress of that time(early Show period: Show 1926-1989) modeled for the poster.

Meisen was the ordinary wear of the middle class people, or dress up wear of the common people in the Tails to mid Show period. Meisen was made in Kanto district ( the center of the Kanto district is Tokyo ),and especially popular in Kanto district. Its pomp and contemporary atmosphere was accepted enthusiastically in Tokyo and Kanto district, but the Kansai district ( the center city of the Kansai is Kyoto and Osaka ) chic kimono like tsumigi are still the very best wear. In the Taisho and early Showa period, the image of the meisen was the modern and fashionable wear of the female students in Tokyo. My mother once told that when she was young she wished to spend all the money she has been paid--to buy meisen kimono.

Meisen was born as the personal use kimono for the ordinary people in kimono of the silk raising district. The weft was thick yarn which was made of spoiled cocoon or double cocoon, and it had stripe pattern. It was called 'shima-meisen' ( 'shima' means stripe ), and in the Meiji period (1868-1912) Shima-meisen became very popular in the Kanto district. In the middle of Taisho period, double ikat 'Kasuri' pattern was woven, and in Kant district many places became the product center of meisen - Chichibu, Kiryu, Isezaki, Ashikaga and other towns. In the middle of the Taisho period ( 1912-1925 ), the technique of 'Hogushi-ori' was invented, 'Moyou-meisen' made waves across the country.
The technique of 'Hogushi-ori' is as below, 1. Fabric is tentatively woven, 2. Pattern is printed on the tentative fabric, 3, Tentative wefts are removed, 4, Woven again with genuine
wefts. With this technique the pattern variety became exceptionally wide, and the influence of the Western fashion made the color vivid, and design became bold and 'haikara'( which means modern and Occidental). In the 1957 the wool fabric was invented, and became popular, wool kimono displaced the meisen, and after 1965 meisen disappeared. For example the peak of the production of meisen in Chichibu district were 1941( pre WWII) and 1963. Ordinarily said, the meisen of the early day have knots in the texture,and ones from the latter days have smooth texture.

No24 -25 August 2003
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter. Here in Japan, the summer heat came after long cool days, how about the weather in your country? Did you enjoy the summer vacation? In this letter, I would like to write more about Kasuri, because kasuri has rich story.

Kasuri generally refers indigo dyed cotton woven textile with repeated patterns as splash patterns. I will introduce the major representative Kasuri here.

*Kurume Kasuri
Kurume Kasuri is the representative cotton kasuri of Japan. Kurume is in the Kyushu district, and in 1788 Den Inoue had started to weave kasuri. It is said that she was only 12 years old, and she noticed the old indigo dyed cotton fabric had whitish dots. She took the fabric apart, and she examined the fabric, and invented to weave kasuri pattern. Her 'kasuri' soon became famous, and when she was 40 years old, she had more than several hundreds of pupils. In this district farmers became to weave kasuri as side business, and after the Meiji period(1868-1912) Kurume Kasuri became famous and popular all over Japan as the ordinary cotton wear. Through the mechanization age, elaborate weaving technique have survived, and Kurume kasuri is evaluated as the highest grade of cotton kasuri.Kurume Kasuri is dyed with natural indigo before weaving. The yarn of weft and warp are tied with 'arasou' ( the epidermis of the hemp plant), and dyed with natural indigo('ai'). The tied part of the yarn remain white, and when the weft and warp are woven, beautiful splash pattern appears. The process of the tieing is called 'tekukuri', which means 'tie by hand', and its technique is very unique and difficult. Dyer must tie hard not to get loose when it is dyed, and at a time it must be easy to be untied right after dyed. Its delicate tieing work affects the pattern.Yarns are dyed with natural indigo ('ai'). Ai dyer has more than 8 big bottles of the 'ai', and they have different concentrations. Yarns are dyed dipped in from the thin 'ai' bottle to thick 'ai' bottle. When the yarn is lifted from the bottle, it is twisted and beaten and banged against the floor. This process is repeated more than 30 times. When the yarn is bated, indigo is contacted with air, which help the indigo to chemical change and dyed. Its whole processes are over 30, and to weave one Kurume Kasuri bolt take a month or two.

There are two pages of introducing the process of the Kurume Kasuri weaving.

Here is the item sample page,

*Iyo Kasuri
Iyo Kasuri is one of the famous three cotton kasuri of Japan. Iyo Kasuri are often used color yarn as contrast to the other kasuri of Chugoku district(middle part of Japan). Its genteel patterns are popular especially in the Taisho period(1912-1925). Here is the sample page of the Iyo Kasuri.

*Yumihama Kasuri
Yumihama is in Tottori prefecture, and unique kasuri have been woven. Its patterns have rich variety - from flax ornament, sayagata, seigaiha, crane, tortoise, kanji characters to the picture of the fairy tales. Sometimes 'chawata' ( brown color cotton) are woven in, and it adds the color to the blue and white pattern.

*Bingo Kasuri
In Hiroshima prefecture (Chugoku district), Bingo kasuri is made and it is one of the three famous cotton kasuri in Japan. Curb pattern is the feature of Bingo Kasuri. When the curb patten by double ikat are invented, it became very popular rapidly all over in Japan. In late Meiji period(1868-1912) or Taisho period(1912-1925) , Bingo kasuri are at the
height ofit's prosperity. As contrasted to the Kurume Kasuri, Bingo introduced weaving equipment early, and became to use the chemical dye for the improvement in the ability to weave. In 60's Bingo produced 60-70% of the kasuri kimono of Japan. But now the production become very low, and hand weaving Bingo kasuri is nearly ceased. Only one weaver - Mr. Morita weave by hand in traditional ways. Here is the page of Mr. Morita.Characteristic curb pattern of Bingo Kasuri.
Here is the samples of the contemporary Bingo Kasuri.
Last hand weaving Bingo Kasuri by Morita san

Kasuri may not be ostentatious but has tremendous charms.We would like to collect more kasuri, and list more in near future.

No23 -18 August 2003
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter. We had wonderful holidays and are very happy to be back to our office again. I(Ichiro) visited Tohoku district, and attended some auctions there. Noboribta, tsutsugaki and other rare kimono which were listed this week are mainly from this trip to Tohoku. After the auctions in Tohoku, I joined my family - Yuka and two daughters at Hokkaido, and we visited some hot springs in Hokkaido.Hokkaido is one of the most popular district for summer vacation trip because of its cool climate. Please check the map of Japan.

Hokkaido is the most north part of Japan, and Tohoku district is the next. In contrast with Okinawa, Hokkaido and Tohoku district have comparatively cool weather in Japan. In winter both districts have heavy snow, and in the ancient days cotton could not be grown for its cool climate. In ancient days, Hokkaido was very FAR from center of Japan, and the latest district, which Japan governed. In Hokkaido indigenous population 'Ainu' have been lived, and have unique culture different from Honsyu(main island of Japan).
Here is the page of the Ainu culture.
Please click #7 and #8--you can see their unique clothing.

Kimono in these pages are made of inner bark and nettles, and its patterns are distinctly different from other kimono. And these pieces are exceptionally rare and they are museum class pieces. Tohoku district was also very far from Kyoto or Edo(Tokyo). Please keep in your mind that Tohoku district has cooler climate than middle of Japan. As I wrote before, the middle of the Edo period(1603-1867) it was impossible to grow cotton in Tohoku district because of its cool climate.
For the common people - farmer and fisher folk wore hemp as casual and working wear. But as you may imagine, hemp wear was not warm enough for the cool winter in the north district. People wore the 'used' cotton from the center district of Japan, because the new cotton was too expensive for common people. People used the 'used' cotton with great care. They wore them, dyed again and again, repaired any tears and holes, and finally they were torn to strips, and were woven to 'sakiori' fabric. ( We have listed vintage sakiori work wear today. It is from Noto district, and has exceptionally beautiful patterns! )

Another way to give the hemp thermal was adding the stitches to the fabrics - 'sashiko'. In Tsugaru ( the most north district of Tohoku) people added beautiful geometric pattern by the cotton stitches to the hemp, and it is called 'Kogin'. This stitches also reinforced the fabric, and it was very useful for working wear. White cotton threads were embroidered in beautiful and unique geometric pattern. I looked for the photos of 'kogin', but we couldn't find in the internet. Here is the photos from my book. This beautiful patterns were embroidered one stitch by one stitch, by the women of the farmer maybe during the agricultural off-season winter. These pieces are from Edo period, this tradition of the elaborate hand work technique almost dyed in Meiji period, because of train reached Tsugaru district.

In Shonai district( Yamagata prefecture) sashiko was made by farmers. Shonai sashiko also has beautiful variety of traditional patterns. Patterns of sashiko symbolized peoples wishes such as wishes for exorcism, productiveness, longevity and growth. We have listed three vintage sashiko from Shonai district. They are made of cotton, and added elaborate and beautiful sashiko stitches.

Also in southern district of Japan, sashiko had been made by fisherfolk, and they are called 'donza'. Fisherfolk had to work on the sea in the hazardous and harsh environment. The pattern of the 'donaza' may have more wishes.

We hope we will be able to list donza or kogin at our site in future. ( * They are very expensive. Kogin may be over $2500.)

Here is today's new arrival pages. Besides sashiko, we have listed rare hemp noren, children's kimono and silk bolts. We are very happy if you have time to check them.

No22 -28 July 2003
We hope you are enjoying the pleasant summer.There were big earthquakes in Miyagi prefecture (northern Japan) on July 25. There seems to be aftershock still coming -- there are hundreds of people injured but fortunately no one  seemed to be killed in the quakes.Thank you very much for your warm and sincere message to us about the earthquakes.

*We are afraid our office will be closed on July 30--due to the moving and Aug03-Aug10 for summer holidays.


In Japan, as we wrote before modern Japanese don't often wear kimono in these days. In Kyoto, there have started many services which will offer benefit to kimono wearers to promote the kimono industries. It is also for the sake of making Kyoto more unique and traditional as the tourist spots. In Kyoto public-private partnership is eager to preserve the traditional cityscape of the old house. To increase the kimono wearer, various company are offering unique benefits to kimono wearers.

* Yukata set hotel plan

Kyoto Royal Hotel offers 17% off from ordinary room charge, who select 'Yukata de Kyoto Plan'. If you choose this package, yukata, obi, geta and kinchaku bag are included--you can choose these items from large selection. They are not rental but you can take them home.Shin-Miyako Hotel, Hotel Princes Kyoto, Rihga Royal Hotel are also offering similar yukata plan.

* Taxi offer 10% off, if you are wearing kimono!

MK Taxi ( Kyoto) is offering 10% off to the customers who is wearing kimono.This discount apply also yukata, samue and jinbei. This discount started on 21 July and will ends on January 31th 2004.

If you are planing to visit Kyoto, staying in the hotels which have yukata plan and you can go out by taxi--you can get a nice discount!


In this letter I would like to write about kasuri (ikat). Ikat is the representative of traditional Japanese textiles, and in many regions people have produced various refined motifs and techniques. You can see the variety of kasuri here.

'Kasuri is woven fabric with dyed yarn, and has beautiful geometric patterns. Portions of yarns are tied by other threads and dyed. When the tied threads are removed undyed part are remained, and when the textile is woven with this yarn, beautiful pattern is created with the warp and weft. There are three kinds of kasuri technique, Yoko-gasuri,Tate-gasuri and Tateyoko-gasuri. Yoko-gasuri and Tate-gasuri is patterned with either dyed warp or weft thread, and tateyoko-gasuri is patterned both dyed warp and weft thread, and tate-yokogasuri is called 'double ikat' in English. Of course, double ikat needs the most developed and refined techniques. The patterns of Kasuri have slight blurring in the outline of the pattern because of its weaving technique, and it gives a unique and beautiful look to the fabrics.

Kasuri techniques are considered to be born in India, and double ikat was developed especially in India, Indonesia and Japan. In Japan, where the kasuri was most developed at first is Okinawa, and spread to other areas. Some customers may remember the Bingata topics, and about Okinawa, where the Bingata is dyed. In Okinawa a variety of natural fibers, such as silk, cotton, hemp,Japanese banana plant are woven with refined kasuri technique.
Here is the eight samples of the ikat of Okinawa.

In main land of Japan, from Kyusyu, Sanin and Shikoku(southern Japan) cotton kasuri is developed, and in northern Japan kasuri made of linen.

Here is the production process of Yumihama-kasuri(in Sanin district)

Kasuri has too much stories to tell in one new letter. And I alsonoticed that there is not the good web page with rich photos, to introduce the beauty of the kasuri. We are going to introduce more kasuri kimono and fabric at our site with rich detail photos near feature. We believed kasuri is excellent for unique handicraft and for displays.

Today we have listed beautiful cotton kasuri fabrics with unique design.

We also has some chrysanthemum pattern kasuri fabrics.

No22 -21 July 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter.
Here in Japan, here comes the summer festival season. At Kyoto, Gion Festival are held, which is one of the most famous festival in Japan.The Gion Festival began in the year 869, and has developed over a period of more than 1,100 years, despite the many wars. On July 17, 32 unique festival floats from each town in Kyoto are drawn around the center of Kyoto.

Some customers may have seen this floats pattern on kimono and obi. Examples are below.

In this mail I am going to write about men's kimono. Frankly said, I(Ichiro) had not worn kimono, before I started our kimono business.
Maybe I was dressed at Miyamairi(babies' christening ceremony) and Shichigosan(ceremony for children aged seven, five and three), but I don't have memories when I was baby or five years old. I remember Michiko(my mother) made me cotton yukata(summer kimono) for me when I was around 16 years old. I wore it to go to the summer festival with my classmate, but I think I wore that yukata only once. Next time when I wore kimono is at the Jidai Festival in Kyoto. I was a student of the university, and did a one day job to wear kimono and walk through the street of Kyoto.

I wore the kimono of Heian period, and wore sports shoes and digital watch(!) At the wedding with Yuka, I wore a tuxedo and ice hockey uniform(I was a ice hockey player at university!), and didn't wear kimono. The memory of wearing kimono are the above at all. It will be similar to most men at my generation or younger generations. I saw my father wore kimono at home when he was relaxed when I was a child. At osyogatu ( January 1st) my father wore kimono and haori, and our family went to a shrine. My father's generation may be the last generation who wore kimono often in their daily lives.

Some customers wonder why the outside of men's kimono are usually plain or solid, and there are artistic pattern on the lining of haori or jyuban, which are not seen when they are worn.

In Japan people had been an aesthetics that men had to wore severe pattern and color kimono just like as the business suite worn by banker. So the most kimono for men's have solid or very small kasuri-woven patterns even in the ordinary wear. Of course there were some exceptions.For example, samurai wore restrained design kimono at ordinary occasion, but at the battlefield, samurai competed the gorgeousness and uniqueness of their armour and jinbaori(haori worn over armour). It is because they had to be distinct themselves from others at the battlefield to obtain the good name even if they were killed. The battle field was the 'HARE' occasion for samurai, and samurai wore magnificent garment only at their 'HARE' occasion. You can see the examples of gorgeous jinbaori here:

By the nearly same reasons, boy's miyamairi and shigicosan kimono has usually dramatic hawk or other brave motifs. The parents pray for their son's heroic exploits and dressed them with these impressive kimono:

* 'Hare' and 'ke' in Japanese: 'KE' means 'ordinary occasion' and 'HARE' means formal occasion. This description is not enough, but there may not be the suitable English words which have exactly the same meanings.

Sengoku era (Period of Warring States) ended and after the long peaceful period, at the Edo period(1674-1868) people became to enjoy wearing gay kimono at their light 'HARE' occasion of the peaceful ordinary days.Government of Edo often prohibit to wear the kimono which are too gay and decorative. So men of refined tastes became to enjoy their taste at the parts where they were not seen - lining of the haori, and jyuban which are worn under kimono. There are so many unique patterns in the linings and there is a museum in Kyoto, which exhibits only the Men's haori.

We have unique collection of men's haori and jyuban. We will be very grateful, if you have time to check our category of men's kimono.

No21 -13 July 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA News Letter.
Summer vacation season is at the corner also here in Japan. Most of schools end around July 20th and new semester starts on September 1st. Working people take their vacation around the'bon' - 15 August, and ordinary the term of the vacation is a week or less.

I am going to write about Urushi in this letter. Haori with gorgeous pattern with urushi(Japan lacquer) threads are very popular at our site.

Unfortunately urushi(Japan) is becoming far from the lives of even daily lives in Japan,so I would like to write short story about it.

Urushi is the sap of the urushi tree(rhhus vernicifera), which is native to China, Korea, Japan and the eastern Himalayas region.
Here is the photos of gathering urushi from trees.

Urushi trees poison the skin. When I was a child, I used to be bitten with urushi tree while I was playing in the small mountains in the neighborhood.
Yuka also have a terrible memory of being bitten with urushi when she went to school excursion and went home crying.

This sap contains a resin-urushiol. It become very hard just like plastic,when it is exposed to moisture and air. Japanese have been used urushi as lacquer to protect the surface of the wood, metal, cloth, ceramic and others. Along the development of the using urushi, gorgeous decorative technique like 'Makie', 'Raden' and 'Chinkin' were becoming the essential part of the Japanese art craft.
Here is the Wajima-nuri, most famous lacquer wear page.
Here is the modern urushi bowl and plate.
Here is the method of the urushi technique.

Because of the elaborate hand work, the real urushi wares have become very expensive items. Today lacquerware has been largely replaced by inexpensive, easy-to-care-for ware such as plastics. Please check the incredible long process to make urushi bowl.

You must be surprised to see these incredible process to make an urushi bowl.

We must tell you the hot soup like miso soup in these urushi bowl taste so good because it does not get cold easily.

Urushi also has the adhesive nature. Stone age people used it to make spear and arrows ( adhere the stone or metal to the wooden shafts). Lacquer liquid can also be used to repair broken earthenware and porcelain, used as a glue. This nature is used to make the pure gold thread.
Here is the page of the process of the making the gold thread.
Craft man spreads the urushi on the Japanese paper, and puts the gold leafs ( which are 4" x 4" ) on it very carefully by tweezers. This process seems to be simple and easy, but it is said that putting the extremely thin( 1/100000 inch ) gold leafs without any wrinkles is extremely difficult work ,which required more than ten years' training. Craft man keep this paper in 'muro'(urushi dry room) for one or two days. And in the last process, craft man cuts the gold paper in the incredibly narrow wide. One inch wide is cut to 60 - 100 pieces, and are become gold threads. It is thinner than the lead of the mechanical pencil! These gold threads are used in obi, Kinran weaving textiles.
For examples we list these fukuro obi from Kyoto Nishijin.

With similar process, the lacquered thread is made. Urushi is lacquered on the washi(Japanese paper), and the paper cut in thin width and become the urushi thread. Urushi resin can be dyed black, red, brown or yellow, so the urushi thread can be these colors. At our site, red and brown pattern on the black color seems to be most popular.
We have listed some more urushi thread haori today.
Please do not worry about urushi poison--it is urushi leaf which is poisoning--not the products used by urushi lacquered thread.

We also have listed some brand new aloha shirts with vintage kimono design. This time we have listed women's size one too. They are made of silk and has very soft touch. They can be easily washed by dry cleaning.

We think we had enough rain by now and the rainy season will over soon.
We wish you a nice Sunday, `Dozo yoi Nichiyobio!'

No20 - 6 July 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter by Ichiro.
There were some blue hydrangea blooming beautifully near our entrance, but they are almost gone--which means the rainy season will be over soon and the very hot and humid summer is coming soon. Some costumers may already know that July 7th is Tanabata, Star Festival in Japan. We made bamboo decoration, and put strips of papers on which our wishes are written.

Bamboos with decorations are displayed everywhere, not only at home but schools or shops. Any kind of wishes can be written-- and reading other people's wish is very interesting. Children write all kinds of cute wish as `I wish I could be good at the horizontal bars ’and‘I wish my handwriting will become better'. Of course many people write the wish for good health, prosperity in business, safety of families or recovery of disease. You could see origami cranes--which are the symbol of peace and they were made with the wish for peace.

We wish the day has clear sky, but it may be raining as usual year. We have been enjoyed Tanabata at July 7th by solar calendar after Meiji period, but the day is in the midst of tsuyu(rainy season), and we seldom can see stars at night. Before Edo Period, Japanese enjoy Tanabata festival at July 7th by lunar calendar( some day in August ) so the day
had been have clear sky often ( because of the right after tsuyu ) and moon goes down at middle of the night. So the night of July 7th by lunar calendar was the perfect day to look at Lactic Way.

During summer, there are many summer festivals in each area. Many fireworks festivals are held and also Bon festival dance--and `Yukata' is a must item for these occasions. Wearing yukata and geta(wooden sandals) are the most comfortable and cool dressing for going out at summer nights.

We know many people love yukata as a relaxing and comfortable garment. At ryokan(Japanese inn), they always have clean and ironed yukata for the customers and we can wear Yukata, not only in the inn but can take a walk in Yukata or used as a pajamas. Wearing yukata and going to onsen(spa or hot spring) is the most favorite relaxing time for all Japanese.

You can see how people enjoy wearing yukata and having a lot of fun here in this page:

As you could see, young people make `mini length yukata' too. Actually many western designer's brand are selling Yukata every year and they are very popular too:

At all department stores, Yukata have a big space and many colorful yukata for both men and women are sold. They say that traditional colors and patterns seem to be very popular this year, rather than very modern and not-like kimono patterns. Indigo blue and white is the most popular colors and most of the yukata at ryokan(Japanese inn)are these colors.

If you ask 100 Japanese people if they like Yukata and onsen(spa), we are sure 100% of the peopole will say they love them.

Wearing yukata and going to onsen a couple of times a day and go back to ryokan room with tatami mattress--that is the ideal way of spending holidays.

These are the photos of rotenburo(open air)onsen(spa) which was chosen to be number 1 of the year in Japan. It is called Takaragawa onsen in Gunma prefecture.

We wish you a very happy summer!

No19 - 30 Jun 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Ichiro from Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya.

We hope this letter find all of you well. We are still in the midst of the rainy season, and our staff sometimes get wet to come to our office. Jyunko san and Seikosan walks about 20 minute to our office when it is raining. Nana san and Okada san(our new staff!) rides motor cycle to our office wearing raincoats. Yuka and I always wish for nice weather for our staffs. Of course we wish you customers nice weather too.

In this letter I would like to write about Bingata, which already many of our customers know about.

Bingata was born in the 15th century in Okinawa ( Ryukyu - the old name of the Okinawa ) far away from Kyoto, in the middle of Japan. Okinawa islands locate in the middle of Taiwan, China and Kyusyu(Japan). Here is the map of Okinawa. Small islands in the center of the map are Okinawa prefecture, and you will be able to recognize the particular location of Okinawa clearly.
Because of its location, Okinawa have been developed their unique culture. ( Customers in USA may know its name by the grueling battlefield of WWII - unhappy history. )
The Chinese authorities permitted the Ryukyu royal family to ascend to the throne, yet allowed to Okinawa to remain a part of the Satsuma feudal domain Japan. Ryukyu royal family had been strongly influenced by the tradition and culture of China, whose technique of dyeing and weaving were the most advanced.
Another important background is its climate. Okinawa enjoys the only subtropical oceanic climate in Japan.
So the flowers, birds and fish are different from others in Honsyu(main island of Japan). It have reflected the natural dyestuff and motifs of the art and handicraft.
Here is more information about Okinawa.

The term Bingata is a combination of 'bin' meaning vivid colors and 'gata' meaning stencil. Five colors (red, yellow, blue, purple and green) are basically used, there are two kinds - 'bingata' which is colorfully dyed, and 'aigata', which is dyed with only indigo.
Sample of 'aigata'(indigo) is here
Usually used motifs are pine tree, bamboo, chrysanthemum, paulownia, crane, tortoise,butterfly, stream, which are the motifs in other kimono.
Recently the hibiscus, deigo ( other particular Okinawa motifs are become to be used.

Red color, such as cochineal and vermilion stand out
Except the royal family, Okinawans were prohibited from wearing yellow clothes. The indigenous yellow of Okinawa is made by mixing the yellow dye fukugi and the dark red dye enji. Yellow it the particular color of bingata.
Indigo blue of the bingata is also particular color. The process of indigo dye is different from the rest of Japan. Using Ryukyu-ai, and indigo dye is produced by the procipitation method, which is widely used in tropical and semi-tropical regions. I could not find the sample photos in the internet.These are our furisode which are listed on our site and e-bay auction. These are not dyed in Okinawa,but their design and color are bingata style.

There are two methods of dyeing bingata: stencil dyeing and tsutusgaki dyeing. Tsutusgaki, as I wrote tsutsugaki technique in previous news letters, out line of the pattern is drawn directly on the cloth by squeezing paste out of a bag. Here is the explanation of the stencil-dyeing process.
1 Norioki - The stencil paper is placed on the cloth, and the paste is applied on it with spatula that coats the cut-out portions of the stencil with resist paste.
2 Dying - The pattern is dyed. To ensure color fastness, the pattern is dyed more than two times.
3 Kumadori- Dyed the out line of the pattern with dark color to give the
pattern three-dimensional.
5 The resist paste removed by the water.
6 Entire pattern is coated with resist paste, and dyed the remainder part ( background part)

Today, Yuko Tamanaha, Eijyun Shiroma and other dyers are famous, and some factory dyed their original Bingata cloth in Okinawa. They are more expensive than other ordinary dyed fabric. Bingata design have been very popular, so many kimono with Bingata design have been made in other places like Kyoto and Tokyo. If you find the very cheap 'Bingata' kimono, it may be the Bingata design kimono made in other places.

I have seen bingata kimono made by Shiroma san on TV and the design was just unforgettable. He designed the beautiful ocean of Okinawa with the scenes which are seen from swimming goggles! Colorful fish and marine plants are dyed and I was so impressed by his very free-spirited and unique designs.

To be honest, Bingata kimono are quite expensive--even not by a famous artist, but it is one of the most unique technique and has a lot of enthusiastic fans.

When the rainy season is over, the very humid and hot summer is coming--we are surprised many customers have humid weather like ours during this season of the year.
dozo minasama okaradani kio tuskete yoi natsuo (Please take care and have a nice summer)

No18 -23 Jun 2003
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market Ichorya News Letter by Ichiro. We are very sorry for the trouble of our site and e-mail, which are occurred the day before yesterday. It happened in this way.We registered our domain name '' last year through a company. We paid three years register fee to a reseller of domain names.His company bought the domain name from a domain register company and resold us. And the day before yesterday suddenly, something became wrong. E-mails became very less than usual, and we seldom received new orders.I ( Ichiro ) was at the auction in Kyoto, so I didn't know what happened then. Our computers are connected our site and administration site through the IP address ( not through the domain name), so Yuka and other members could see our site as usual, and couldn't know what happened. At night of that day I examined our site, and I found the domain name didn't indicate our server's IP address. So all links and book marks didn't connect to our site any more, and all e-mails to were rejected. I and Yuka lost color to see the expiration date of our domain name - it was expired a week ago. I was very late mid night, we became panicked. What happened?? We paid three years fee!! Something must have been wrong! We called the reseller , but we could not reach him for a while.How can we solve this problem--we both became desperate. Soon after, with the very kind help of the domain name registration company, we could complete the renewal registration. It was a night which made our hearts weak. We would like to thank all of you again for the patience again.

In this letter I am going to write about 'noshi' and 'kicho', which are the popular motif of kimono.

We modern Japanese use 'noshi', when we present formally.We wrap the present with noshi gami ( paper with 'noshi' ) ,
Noshi is the name of upper right one

When I was a salesperson of the department store, I could often see a variety of noshi on the packages of a different occasions. There are slight differences in noshi style in each occasions. For examples, bridal gift, celebration of a birth, celebration one's getting well and thank-you-for-coming gift of the bridal. Japanese have the custom to make return gifts to those gifts, and it is called 'uchi-iwai', and they are also wrapped noshi papers. People often buy their formal gift from department stores, because of its high class image. Instead of adding the greeting cars, usually name of the presenter is written on the noshi paper, and there are many intricate rules about the noshi-gami. New sellers were often scolded by the customers by their ignorance of the appropriate noshi to the particular occasion.(Especially older people are very strict about these things).

It must be very difficult to connect with the real noshi and the noshi patterns on kimono. 'Noshi-awabi' is the meat of the abalone, which is sliced , extended and dried. 'Noshi' means 'extend', and it symbolize the longevity. In ancient days 'noshi-awabi' was added to the present to express the honor of the occasion. And now people use hexagonal hallmark ( which was used to wrap awabi ) in place of noshi-awabi, and we usually call it 'noshi'. Dried abalone meat sounds so strange, but it was the origin and it it even more surprising that noshi design turned to be one of the most impressive motifs of kimono.

We could often see alluring tabane-noshi motif on kimono. 'Noshi' of this motifs means 'noshi-awabi', and 'tabane' means 'bind'.

Here is the supreme furisode with 'Tabane-noshi' pattern from mid Edo period
We also have some beautiful tabane-noshi pattern furisode.
This is the page of the noshi variety in the kamon(family crest).


'Kicho' is also very popular motif of kimono. It begun to be used by the noble people at Heian period(794-1192). Noble people lived in a large house and the particular architecture was called 'Shindenzukuri', which were not separated to small rooms. They needed something as a barrier or blinder which could be moved easily. Kicho and other items were used as a partition or screen. Its size is ordinarily 114cm x 120cm, and made of wood stand and three or four fabrics. Kicho was often drawn as they are trembling by the wind. The patterns of the strips of fabrics are very beautiful.

Here is the sample of the kicho which is made now.
This kicho is woven by Kawashimaorimono, which is the most famous weaving company in Kyoto
This large kicho with Fujin-Raijin motif was made by 40 dyer in Kyoto.
We have stunning susohiki with kicho motif.

Noshi and Kicho became the very impressive and popular motifs with full of graces on kimono.We hope you will enjoy these unique motifs.

No17 -16 Jun 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter.
In Japan, it is in rainy season 'tsuyu' now, and rainy and cloudy days continue these days.
In this season, we see many 'ajisai'(hydrangea)blooming beautiful. Now there are many colors of the hydrangea, but the origin of the hydrangea is Japan, and its original color is blue. It is said
that the acidic soil makes the hydrangea blue, and the alkaline soil
makes it red, and the original Japanese soil is acidic so the color of
the ajisai had been blue.
In the mind of we Japanese, the image of the large and impressive blue ajisai flowers is with tsuyu and early summer season.

In this letter, I am going to write about TSUTSUGAKI. As many customers know, 'tsutsu' means tube, and 'gaki' means paint. The technique, tsutsugaki, is a rice paste resist technique unique to Japan. It has a very long and great tradition.
In the Edo period (1603-1867) the Yuzen technique were developed in Kyoto( yuzen uses resist paste to dye the fabric colorfully , which prevent the dye from spreading ), and its dyeing technique spread rapidly from Kyoto to outside the capital. Until then, farmer's kimono was made of hemp or wisteria vein fibers with simply patterned shibori(tie-dyed) or free hand paint. But the use of the cotton became popular among the farmers because of the daimyo's promotion of industry. Farmers grew the cotton, and spined it while agricultural off-season, and the cotton fiber were dyed with indigo by the rural dyeing factory. These indigo dyed cotton fiber became ikat or were dyed with stencil or tsutsugaki technique ,and added beautiful pattern to the people's ordinary life.
While stenciled-dyeing is suited for mass production, the tsutsugaki can produce only one piece at one time. Tsutsugaki technique had been frequently used for the items for the betrothed couples, for examples futton cover, 'yogi' ( kimono shape bedding ) , 'furoshiki' (square wrapping cloths, 'yutan'(furniture cover) and other ceremonial items. For this reason many tsutsugaki items have auspicious motifs, such as crane, tortoise, pine tree, ume blossom, bamboo, 'takara'(treasures), 'noshi'(ceremonial bindings) and others.
Tsutsugaki banners used for the Boy's Festival have famous brave warriors motif, and there are the design inspired by Noh and fables. Tea ceremony goods design were often dyed in Shikoku district.

Here are the some photos of vintage and antique tsutsugaki.

Today only a limited number of artisans in Shimane and Gifu Prefectures inherit the traditional tsutsugaki technique.
Nagata Dyeing is only one dyeing factory in Izumo(Shimane Prefecture), and most famous tustsugaki factory. Here is the page of Nagata Dyeing. Nagata san write here that there were more than 50 factories before, but only his factory remain.

Nagata san introduce his tsutsugaki technique here.
The paste is squeezed from the holder onto the design , which is drawn previously. The pigment is added and it has skyblue color to help the distinguish it.

The paste has dried, fabric is brushed with water. And after that the fabric is immersed into an indigo dyed bath.
Nagata san write here that ' Indigo is alive, and the condition of the indigo is different everyday. To examine the condition of the indigo, I lick the indigo. It is difficult to keep the indigo in good condition. The color changes indigo blue after a while it is raised from he bath ."

When the dye has set, the fabric is submerged into the river to remove the paste.

We have two tsutsugaki yogi and a futon cover in stock.
#3232 has dramatic crane circle pattern, and another yogi has a kamon, which is called 'maruni- daki-myouga' Both have stunning design and soft cotton touch.

We also have rare 'yuage'(towel for baby) dyed with tsutsugaki technique. In Izumo district, people have been ordered even baby towel with tsutsugaki-dyeing for the betrothed couples.

We wish we list more tsutsugaki on our site in future. But tsutsugaki with stunning design and in excellent condition is always VERY expensive ( more than $2000 ). If you have a special request about tsutsugaki ( item or design and price), please let us know.

Today we have listed many karinui fabric with beautiful yuzen pattern. We are very happy if you could visit our site and check them.
And we put the fantastic kimono wearing photos from customer in the
enjoy kimono photo album.
Thank you Cheney san for sending us wonderful photos. You are BEAUTIFUL!
We are always welcome customer's kimono wearing, display or handicraft
photos. We are very happy if you could send us your photos, and share
them with our customers at our photo album.

No16 -9 Jun 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter by Ichiro.
In this letter, I am going to write about embroidery. We have been seen many incredible embroidery in antique and contemporary kimono.
Embroidery was used as a basic means of decoration of the fabric from early times in both Orient and Occident. It is not original technique of Japan, but with influence of the China, Japanese embroidery had advanced its originality and distinctive technique and beauty. From the document embroidery began to be done in fourth century, and in the Nara period (710-759) embroidery became the indispensable part of the Japanese decorative art.
We sometimes come across the embroidery uchikake from Meiji period (1868-1912) . Wealso see the uchikake from Edo period (1603-1868), but the supreme piece from Edo period is for the museum. The price of the embroidery uchikake in excellent condition from Edo period is more than $10000. They have many comparatively small size motif on all over it , and have very intricate embroidery. For example,

We have several embroidery uchikake from Meiji period in stock. They also have incredibly beautiful embroidery.

We also find fantastic embroidery on the fukusa, uchishiki and other Buddist fabric. For example,

Also on vintage obi, we can find supreme embroidery. But the price of it is extremely high, if the condition is good enough to be used as a garment. In these days the vintage embroidery obi became very popular among kimono lover in Japan.

There are many embroidery technique, and here is the several techniques which are ordinarily seen our vintage kimono.

'koma nui' ( we have been discribed it as gold couching, but its Japanese is koma nui. An embroidery technique to secure gold or thick twisted thread which cannot penetrate cloth. The thread from a koma reel is unwound and laid along the line of the underdrawing, then stray-stitiched on to the cloth with thin silk thread.

'sagara nui' ( French knot stitch - An embroidery stitch with forms dots. The thread is stitched from the underside of the cloth and is knotted on the outer side.)

'sashi nui'(Alternating long-and-short stitches used to fill in parts of design. All stitches go in the same direction. When used effectively for shading, the design appears realistic. We have list supreme black furisode with yuzen pattern and gorgeous sashi nui embroidery. Please check the incredible hand work! )

'hira nui'( stain stitch - Close parallel stitches fill out a design. Every caution is made to prevent the stitched from overlapping. Because the thread 'floats' on the surface of the cloth, tome-nui(fixing stitch) is often used to secure it.)

Embroidered uchikake and furisode are getting less and less in numbers, so we hope we find more beautiful embroidery piece and list them to our site.
No15 -2 Jun 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter. Here in Japan, it is getting hotter and hotter, and as if the mid summer has come before the early summer. Today we have furnish the new cooler in the photo room. Because of the strong lights, Nana san and Seiko san sweat to take photos these days. From today there may be no more sweat, and they will present more beautiful photo than before :-)

In this letter, I am going to write about yuzen technique. Maybe most of you have rich knowledge about yuzen, but there might be the more interesting story about this theme.

'Yuzen' means the general dyeing technique of kimono, and it has many variety of the technique. For examples, more than 90 yuzen techniques are listed at the Kyoto Yuzen official site.

Yuzen dyeing was established about 300 years ago, and from then hand painted picture became to be able to be transfered to kimono fabrics. Yuzensai Miyazaki, who was the artist of fan design, deviced the technique - using rice-paste as resist. This technique made it possible to divide the colors on the fabrics freely. It was an epoch-making devisal.

Here is the one of the process of the yuzen dyeing.

There are famous two yuzen production districts - Kyoto and Kaga, and the products are called Kyo-Yuzen and Kaga-Yuzen. At first Yuzensai Miyazaki lived in Kyoto, and later he moved to Kaga ( Ishikawa prefecture ), so these two discricts became the representative production centers of Yuzen dyeing.

Kyoyuzen is characterized by the luxury and gorgeous touch. Its pattern is dyed vividly and colorfully, and often added the embroidery or putting gold leaf. Kagayuzen is dyed with distinctive colors, and its pattern is graphic and artistic. Bokashi(shading) and Mushikui( leaves are painted even with eaten parts by insects, and it gives the distinctive design accent to Kagayuzen ) are the distinct feature. Kagayuzen have not the embroidery or putting gold leaf, because of the emphasis on the beauty of dyeing. Here is the official page of Katayuzen. You can check the color and design of Kagayuzen here.

I pick up some famous modern yuzen painters, and put their links here.

Kihachi Tabata ( 1877- 1955)

Uzan Kimura (1891-1977 He brought new perspective to Kagayuzen )

Kako Moriguchi (1909- Living National Treasure )

Tokio Hata ( 1911- . Living National Treasure. He had leaned at Kanazawa, and later learned in Kyoto. He has mixed the both features of the Kaga-yuzen and Kyo-yuzen.)

Yasutaka Komiya ( 1925 - , Living National Treasure. He carris on the torch of Edo-komon.

We hope you enjoyed their works--the kimono art. We see many kimono everyday but still we keep being surprised by each kimono. We do not know the name of the craftsmen most of the time but we cannot help respecting these craftsmen who devoted their time to make these kimono.
No14 -26 May 2003
I am writing about mon(crest) of kimono today. Mon on kimono is actually Kamon(Ka`family & mon`crest).
Some of you might already know about kamon--kamon is a Japanese family crest, which is dyed (or embroidered ) to the formal kind of kimonos. It is said that there are more than five thousand patterns of kamon, and each design is simple yet beautiful and interesting. I would like to share the little information about kamon in this letter.

It is not sure when the kamon was born, but in Heian period(794-1191), noble people put their mon on their royal cart and kimonos. And during the war period, mon was used to distinguish the enemy at the battlefield, so the kamon was dyed on the flags, weapons and warmors. In Edo period(1593-1806),mon started to be used among the ordinary people.

Kamon is useful and practical but at the same time the designs are so impressive and unique. Here is the sample of the varieties,

Each design has its meaning.
*the character of the family name
(For example, the family who have the family name of 'Mori-fuji','Fuji-moto' use wisteria ('fuji') mon.
* the symbol of longevity, prosperity or welfare ( chrysanthemum, paulownia, bamboo, ume blossom, pine tree and so on)
* the symbol of the military prestige ( arrow, war helmet, katana and others )

The design soruce of kamon are animals, flowers & plants, equipments, natural phenomena and others. If you have time, please enjoy the variety of them at the links below.

*flowers & plants
*natural motifs<FONT%20size="2"%20face="Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"></FONT>

Besides, these mon are added many varieties by adding glaive, adding circle, and other metamorphosis.

There are the five most popular mon. They are fuji, mokko, katabami, takano ha, kiri

*Kiri ( paulownia ) Kiri and 'kiku'(chrysanthemum) were the mon of shougun(general). Kiku were strictly prohibited to be used among ordinary people, but kiri were not so strictly prohibited, so the kiri became yearning mon and used widely among people widely. Today many of the rental formal kimono have this kiri mon.

*Fuji ( wisteria ) There are many family who has the character'fuji', and among them this kamon are often used.

*Mokko This mon's design source are not identifyed. Because of its beautiful design and meanings of the family prosperity it have been popular mon.

*Katabami Its simple design had been popular.

*Takanoha The feather of the hawk. It was popular among samurai.

Here is the page of the goods to paint mon, and the process of the mon painting.

*The number of the mon on the kimono
Kimono has five mon, three mon or single mon. Five mon is for the most formal kimono, and the single mon is considered to be the most casual kimno.

*Size of the mon
Kimono from Edo period(1593-1806) has larger mon, and its diameter is approx 5cm(2"). The size of the mon has become smaller, and now the diameter of women's kimono is 2.1cm(3/4"), and men's is 3.8cm(1 1/2"). The kimono from Meiji period(1868-1912) on our site has also large size mon.

There should be two kinds of mon in a family--`otoko mon' and `onna mon'. Otoko is men and onna is women. Women take over the mon from their mothers--when women get married they are given kimonos with the mon of their mothers. Otoko mon is attached to men's kimono and it is inherited as the mon of the family, but only few men wear kimono nowadays, so eventually onna mon are seen more than otoko mon.
Kamon of each family is not seen often except kimono, lacquered ware for formal occasions, furoshiki(wrapping cloth) or fukusa(a square cloth to cover the gift money).
No13 -19 May 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Ichiro, from Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya.
Here in Japan rainy season is coming. The season is called 'tsuyu', and when tsuyu ends, real hot and humid summer starts.In this season we can see firefly ( 'hotaru') in rural district. Japanese enjoy the glows of the flying fireflies. Its scene is illusory and fantastic. Here is the photos of flying hotaru.
When I was a very small child, I could see hotaru near our house, but now we must go to rural district to see hotaru. As you know, hotaru is popular motif and sometimes used as the motif in kimono.

In this letter I am going to write about 'shibori' technique. Shibori technique is not original in Japan. From ancient days tie dyeing technique had been done in many countries in the world - for example India, China, Peru, Nigeria and some countries in Africa. In Japan shibori technique had been popular for a long time, over the 150 kinds of the unique techniques are developed. Tsujigahana, Kanoko shibori, Arimatsushibori, Narumishibori, Nuishibori and others. In this page you can see the some shibori techniques. If you put the mouse point on the photos, the photos will change from pre dyed photo to after dyed one. The photos give us the image of tieing way and pattern.

Tsujigahana is a dyeing pattern that was popular more than 500 years ago. It was said as the `lost dyeing technique' because it died out during the early years of the Edo period (1603-1868). Dyer Itchiku Kubota is famous for contributing the revival of Tsujigahana. When he was very young he saw this particular technique called Tsujigahana. He has been captivated its unique beauty and started creating his own dyeing technique called Itchiku Tsujigahana. After Itchiku had revived Tsujigahana, many kimono maker had been making Tsujigahana pattern kimono. It is one of the most popular shibori pattern. The feature of tsujigahana is decorative flower patterns which is outlined with shibori technique, and added hand painted lines. Here is the antique tsujigahana photos.
Ichiku Kubota's profile
Sample of the modern tsujigahana kimono

Kanoko shibori
Kanoko means the deerlet. It was named because the dot pattern is similar to the pattern of the back of the deerlet.
Here is the English page of kanoko shibori.

Arimatsu shibori, Narumi shibori
Arimatsu and Narumi is the name of district in middle Japan, and is famous for its cotton dyed with shibori technique. They are mainly used as yukata fabric. This shibori has approx 50-60 shibori technique. Here is the official site of the Arimatsu & Narumi shibori. In this site there are the sample photos of many shibori technique and description in English.

In Edo period, shibori technique was once prohibited because it was considered to be too rich and fancy. At that time, shibori like patterns were stenciled instead.

You can see the little holes around shibori patterns--they are where threads were applied.
To estimate the quality of the shibori technique, these points are generally said
1) the center point of the shibori pattern - smaller is better
2) the area around the center point - bigger is better

Shibori is broadly used in kimono designs--sometimes shibori technique is used alone or sometimes shibori technique is used with dyed patterns and give the unique accent in the designs.
No12 - 12 May 2003
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter by Ichiro. I have been encouraged by many readers, so I can keep writing news letter on every Saturday. It is a little bit hard work for me, but on the other hand it is a great joy for me to share our information with all of you. Writing was one of my dream. When I was young, I dreamed to be a writer. ( Of course in Japanese!) But I found the lack of my talent at that time. Now I am excited to imagine some customers are enjoying my newsletters. I keep studying English everyday by listening to the radio. To be honest, I learn a lot of words from the mails of our customers' too!

In this letter, I am going to write how to estimate the age of kimono. Maybe many readers already know about it, but I think it will be a useful information for many readers. If anyone knows more about this theme, I will be very grateful if you could e-mail us. I will write it in another mail to share the knowledge.

Before the specific term, I would like to introduce the ordinary view among kimono dealers.
Obi is difficult to estimate its age. Almost all classic patterned maru obi are from pre WWII, and maru obi with intricate designs are thought to be from earlier time. Contemporary obi have modern designs, and soft touch to be tied easily. But other obi have very little features to be estimated its age. Some famous vintage kimono shops, which sell the wearable vintage kimono only from pre WWII, also sell vintage obi ( which can be tied ). But one owner said to me that he does not limit the age of obi strictly. It is not possible to narrow the time of obi --when they are from, so if he judges the obi to be very old, he says it is from pre WWII. He also says, `If the kimono can not be estimate its age, we sell as the kimono from pre WWII'. What he says seems to be the ordinary view among the kimono dealers. Kimono dealers who can estimate the age of the kimono and obi without the distinctive features, are very few. My mother Michiko can estimate about recent 40 years, because she had been sewing kimono and wearing kimono in its term. But at around WWII, she was just a little girl. My mentor Mr. Kanzawa had been engaged in kimono business for 60 years, so he could estimate the age of almost every kimono I questioned. I had learned a lot from him, but unfortunately he was gone last year.

I would like to write distinct feature of the kimono from pre WWII, which I learned from him.

*'Ryouzuma' pattern is from pre WWII.
Ryouzuma is the mirror image design which are often seen in kurotomesode(women's black formal kimono) and irotomesode (women's color formal kimono). In west Japan, `Ryouzuma'(mirror image design) pattern was the mainstream, but after WWII mainstream had changed to `Edozuma'.
`Ryo' of the 'Ryo-zuma' means `both', `zuma' means the both front bottom of the kimono. You could imagine its meanings as the mirror image design. Now the `Edo-zuma' is the mainstream of kimono, which are the design of the flowing patterns from left front to right front.
Sample of Ryouzuma design kimono
Sample of Edozuma design kimono
'Edo' is the old name of Tokyo, the capital of Japan, which is located in east Japan. Before WWII Edozuma was the mainstream design of kimono in east Japan. So Ryozuma patterned kimono are almost all from pre WWII, but the Edozuma patterned kimono can sometimes from after WWII.

* Red silk lining are from pre WWII
Red silk lining is the feature of the kimono from pre WWII. But some kimono can be lined with white silk also even they are
from pre WWII. Lining can be redone, so newer kimono can have red lining also.
Sample of red silk lining

*Longer sleeves are from pre WWII
Regarding the regular kimono, not furisode, sleeves are rather longer than modern kimono. We saw many vintage kimono and haori, we often find the sleeves are shortened by folding and sewing. It can be considered to be done by the wearer who owned the kimono or haori to make it easier to move. Kimono fashion had changed dramatically after WWII, people shortened their sleeves to keep wearing in more active way.
Sample of the long sleeves

*Large Rinzu Pattern is distinct feature of kimono from pre WWII
Rinzu(damask effect) can be seen in many kimono but the rinzu patterns are somehow quite bigger in older times compared to modern times. Beautiful large rinzu patterns are often seen in vintage kimono.
Sample of the large rinzu pattern

We hope you enjoy the features of kimono from older times. We see many kimono every day but we are always surprised and impressed by the unique and bold designs and colorations. We think the designs look always fresh and the charms never undiminished. The more kimono we see, more fascinated we are.
No11 - 4 May 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News letter No.11 by Ichiro.
Today, May 5th is the day of 'Tango no sekku', a national holiday of 'Children's Day'.
It is a festival to celebrate the growth of a baby boy. We hope the boy's sound growth and a future success, and put up 'koinobori', and display 'musha-doll'. 'Koinobori' is the streamer of the carp made of cloth.When a carp finishes climbing the waterfall of the 'dragon gate' of Yellow River, it becomes a mighty dragon, according to old Chinese legend. Carp is the symbol of the advancement in life, and as you know it is also the popular motif in kimono.
'Musha-doll' is the doll of old Japanese samurai general. It wears 'yoroi'(armor) and 'kabuto'(helmet).
In this letter I am going to write the theme, which I had been wondering whether I should inform or should not to. But some customers may already know what I am going to write. Just like as Microsoft, Dell or IBM, some kimono are made in Vietnam, China, India and other Asian countries today.
From my own experience, when we had started our business, we received a business propasal from dyeing company in India! They said they are dyeing kimono with traditional yuzen technique, and worked for famous kimono company in Kyoto Nishijin.
When I had a business talk with manager of the kimono company in Kyoto Nishijin, I was shown to the sewing room. What I saw was approx 10 girls from Vietnam were sewing kimono. I have heard that some sewing work were done in Vientam or China, but I was astonished to see them at that room in Kyoto. Manager said that those girl's were selected to be the leader of the sewing team and sent to Kyoto from the sewing company in Vietnam.
There are not the obligation to indicate in which the country the kimono and obi were made, woven or dyed. So the user can not tell where the kimono at the store were made. And there is not the official statistics, but approx 10% of the obi are thougt to be made in other Asian countries now.
The reason why the work of the kimono making transfer to China, Vietnam or India, is the same reason of the case of computer industry. As your know, the wages of the those countries are far less than Japan. For examples avarage monthly pay of the manufacturing industry are 315,700yen in Japan, and 9,740yen in China. Its gap is nearly 33-fold.
So like other industry many kimono makers transfer the factory to China, India and Vietnam for lower employment cost. Becasuse of the shrinking of the kimono market, many kimono makers have been struggling to survive. Among many companies became bankrupt, some company have been cutting the cost by the transfer the factroy to abroad, and others make more unique and high quality kimono in their factory for rich peoples. Depression, depopulation, and the change of the taste for dressing ( people rarely wear kimono nowdays) shrink the kimono market dramatically.
Some top executives of the kimono maker say that this transfer is not only for the lower wages. They say today's young people in Japan dislike the elaborate, unspectacular work, so they are getting into a crisis with the accession of traditional technique. Today's young people in Japan have not perseverance for the long long time job training to become journeymen as ever. For the accession of the traditional weave and dying technique, journeymen teach their skills and knowledge to the leader of the factory in other countries. In those factories the technique of dyeing ahd weaving are the same as in Japan.
Of corse this theme is considered to be the serious issue for the traditional industry and culture. But the situation is far from rosy. For examples, the number of the weaving factory in Nishijin Kyoto have become half ( ! ) compared with 30 years ago.
We always think we would like to sell more good quality kimono at moderate price. But the brand new kimono with high quality are very expensive because of its elaborate hand work by Japanese. No one can say the wages of the craft man of kimonos are too expensive compaired with the wages of China or other countries craftmen, because they live in Japan and most of them are not rich enough in spite of their incredible skilled trade.
About our kimonos and obi, among the contemporay ones some may be dyed or woven in other countries. Embroideries were oftten done in China, and when we got to know it was done in China we always include that information in the discription.
As you know, vintage and quite old kimono are made in Japan.
No10 - 28 Apr 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News Letter by Ichiro.
Here in Japan, cherry blossom season has ended completely, and Golden Week holidays have started today. Unfortunately this year's series of holidays are separated by one or two workdays, and also by the long time depression we Japanese spend our holidays austerer than ever. We are not taking a long time holiday at this Golden Week because it is crowded everywhere and I (Ichiro) am a workaholic. (But I love onsen--hot springs, wo we may go to onsen one of these days)
In this letter, I am going to write about wedding ceremony and reception in recent years. We are selling many uchikake, which are the attirement of brides at wedding. But not so many brides wear uchikake.
In Japan, approximately half of the wedding ceremonies and receptions are held at hotels, which have the wedding ceremony room and banquet. Hotels offer almost all service of the wedding, for example the rental of the attirement, hair styling, photography, thank-you-for-coming gift and everything which will be needed for a wedding. Wedding package plans are offered by wedding planners at the hotels.
Somehow things are changing--the wedding reception at restaurant(approx 8%), wedding ceremony at churches abroad (approx 6%) are increasing. Young people tend to avoid heavy ritual and formal ceremony, and they like to create their own way to enjoy their wedding and make it unique and memorable. When we got married 19 years ago, we hardly heard someone having their wedding reception at restaurants. The wedding style have changed rapidly.
Japanese select the style of the wedding ceremony among the Christian style, the Shinto style and Jinzen style( swear the wedding to the relatives and friends). Jinzen style had started in recent years, so at the time we got married there was not the choice of Jinzen style. It doesn't need ministers nor Shinto priests--it is very casual style which can be held at restaurant wedding.
I have to write about the religious sense of Japanese. Many people hold their wedding ceremony in the Christian style, but it doesn't mean they are Christians. They only adore the Western style wedding, just like as they adore western wedding dress. Whether they swear to Jesus or Japanese God, almost all couples don't image the concrete God. Japanese believed in many gods and goddesses since old times, so the style of the religion may not become problem to us. Going to a shrine
for christening, getting married at a church and having funeral at a temple--is quite common, not special at all.
At the Christian style ceremony, brides wear a wedding dress, and at Shinto style brides can wear a white uchikake 'shiromuku', iro(colorful) uchikake, furisode, or the wedding dress. Through the wedding ceremony to reception, brides change the attirement once or a few times. Change of the attirement is called 'oironaoshi'. Average of the number of the oironaoshi is 1.7, and the number has been decreasing in recent years. When we were young, four time oironaoshi were not rare. Starting from shiromuku(white uchikake), brides wore a iro (color) uchikake, furisode, wedding dress and fancy long dress. Brides had to exit four times to change the attirement, so the reception had to be proceeded without brides in most hours.
Here is the examples of the popular order of recent oironaoshi style .
Photos are
1 wedding dress - fancy long dress
2 iro uchikake - wedding dress
3 shiromuku(white uchikake) - iro uchikake - fancy long dress
4 black furisode - wedding dress
5 wedding dress - furisode
From the data, approximately half brides wore iro uchikake and white uchikake, and approx 2.5% of the brides wear furisode at wedding reception.
Black furisode were the usual wedding attirement before early Showa period(1926-1989)--just as our grand mothers' time. It had been replaced by dresses, after the western style clothing became widespread. It is a nice surprise that black furisode has become popular again recently because of the antique kimono boom. My friend, a manager of the biggest costume company, told me that the black furisode is deficit in store.
I would like to let you know that most brides rent these wedding attirement. The wedding attirements are so expensive
because of the elaborate work and technique--they are not affordable for most of the people, so `rental' is the mainstream
as far as the brides costumes are concerned.
Fee of the rental costume is expensive. From certain data, the fees of the rental are as follows.
Shiromuku (white uchikake) average $2250 maximum $3300 minimum $1500
Iro Uchikake average $3475 maximum $8300 minimum $1600
Some of you may have noticed that the price are higher than the price of our uchikake. Most of our uchikake are in excellent condition, and they were rented at about $3000 for one day wedding ceremony.
The retail price of the brand new uchikake will be the three or four times as the rental prices. So you could know the price of the used uchikake is far cheaper than their value.
Some of you may wonder why the Japanese don't buy the used uchikake instead of renting them at expensive price. It is because the hotels always demand fees 'mochikomiryo'(corkage), when brides don't rent their (hotel's) attirement. If brides buy used uchikake and bring it into hotel, there will be more trouble than money. She needs the accessories of uchikake, and must need professionals' help with wearing them. But when the wedding is held at restaurant or abroad, there are less trouble than hotels, some couple use the used uchikake or dress. Another reason we can think of for not buying uchikake is--because of the matter of space. Because of the spread of the nuclear family, there is no space to store the huge thing as uchikake in the house. Kimono are most of the time handed down to daughters--but uchikake do not have its space in the house even if it could be purchased.
The fee of the rental of the furisode is approx the same as the iro uchikake. The price of the vintage black furisode, which is wearable at wedding reception are sold with the price of about $1000-$2000, and it seem expensive but strange to say it is lower than the rental price.
Today we have listed 18 children's kimono, five iro uchikake and twoshiromiku ( by Hanae Mori).
Now we are listing many rare design uchikake, which I have collected from many friends and dealers. For example the black uchikake is not
rare in our site, but it is very tough to obtain them. And please remember that the prices of uchikake which we are listing at about $500 were
over $10000 when they were brand new. And just before I got them, they were rented at the price of $3500 or more only for one wedding day.
Thank you for reading my unskilled English to the end! Arigatou gozaimasu!
Always we are very happy to introduce the Japanese beauty and tradition to you. Sincerely,
No9 - 21 Apr 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Ichiroya News Letter written by Ichiro.
I am very sorry that I mistook the date of Toji Temple Flea Market in previous letters.
It is hold on 21th every month.( I wrote '19th' by mistake.) We have added previous news letters page on our site. If you need to refer to the previous article, please check here.

In this letter, I would like to write about the antique kimono boom in Japan.
For long time, kimono market has been shrinking.
Before Edo period ( -1867) Japan closed the country, all Japanese wore kimono. Daimaru, one of the most famous department store which I had been worked for 18 years, was established in Edo period as a kimono retailer. Some department stores in Japan have same company history as the Daimaru. In Meiji period(1968-1911), European clothes were introduced, and in Taisho period (1912-1925) European clothes were spread to the ordinary people because the functionality and modern design outpulled the people. At first European style spread among children and men, and ladies' formal style become the last territory of traditional kimono style. During the WWII(1941-1945), the government prohibited the luxury and unfunctional kimono style, so the main stream of the fashion changed dramatically to European style.
Michiko, Ichiro's mother, is born in 1931. She says she wore plainly European style in childhood and and in adolescence( pre WWII and right after WWII). In that era people were very poor because of the war and loss. Adult women wore the kimonos, but they are very plainly kimono - many of them were re-dyed, and re-sewn.
But before the WWII, there were the term of the fashion and culture richly flowered. It is in Taisho period(1912-1925), and in its period, a lot to romantic architecture, art ( and kimono ) were born. In its period, we can see the mixing of culture of Western & Japanese, hand work and machine made. Kimono from in its period, have especially elegant and artistic taste, and they are very popular among the antique kimono fan in Japan. Roughly speaking, they have large design, large rinzu pattern, long sleeves, red silk lining and colorfully dyed.
After WWII, and through the high-growth era (1960-1980) the territory of kimono didn't spread. Michiko had been worn kimono only at the formal occasion like many other Japanese ladies.
Ordinary ladies wear kimono only at formal occasion like a wedding, tea ceremony, coming-of-age ceremony,the Seven-Five-Three Festival. And young ladies wear yukata in summer at season at the summer festival.
At the zenith of an economic boom the prices became incredibly high, but the collapse of economic bubble at the start of the 1990s accelerate the shrink of the kimono market. For example the selling space of kimono became smaller and smaller, when the Daimaru and other deparment stores remodeled their stores. Newer generation tends not to wear kimono even at formal occasion. At wedding, brides wear two or three costume. In old days brides used to wear at least one uchikake with Western dress, but it becomes not rare that bride doesn't wear even one kimono.
But now, on the cutting edge of fashion, some fashion-conscious girls begin to pay attention to vintage kimono.They select colorful but not expensive vintage kimono ( about 3000yen to 5000yen), and wear them freely ( from the traditional rule of wearing kimono). Vintage kimono are usually too short for today's young girls, but they are all right for girls. They use their initiative, for examples, they wear contemporary jyuban under vintage kimono, and pull out them from the short sleeve of vintage kimono. Our staff Jyunko san astonished to see many young girls in kimono walked at Harajyuku in Tokyo in last year.
Here is the sample photos of such young kimono girls. They are from kimono retailer's magazine. The publisher Miura san own two vintage kimono shops in Tokyo, and propose the modern kimono style with inexpensive vintage kimono.

I have found some photos of Meiji period to Showa period at internet. They will help to imagine the fashion of old days.
Main recourse is Mainichi News Paper's Photo Bank, and it has 120000 photos from pre WWII.
This site has many vintage and antique photos from Meiji period with English comment.

Thank you again for reading our letter. And we always thanks your ordering and attention to out site. Today we have listed 15 unique kimono ( they are vintage ), and 15 silk bolt.
We are very grateful if you would check them.

Thank you again!
Ichiro & Yuka Wada
Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya
Koyodai 3-3-10-109
Tondabayashi City, Osaka
584-0082 JAPAN
** -81(country number) -721-29-5446

Meiji Period(1968-1911)
Taisho Period(1912-1925)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------!s-z-/r!bk-/c-i0i//m.jpg!s-z-/r!0y/r!i-k-//m.jpg!s-z-/r!0n-/bilm-//m.jpg (1923)!s-z-/r!0n-/bi1i//m.jpg!s-z-/r!0n-/bie-y//m.jpg
Showa Period(1926-1989)
Pre WWII( 1926 - 1940)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------!s-z-/r!bk-/c-i0m-//m.jpg (1932)!s-z-/r!0i/c-noj-//m.jpg (1933)!s-z-/r!0i/c-n0y//m.jpg!s-z-/r!0y-/c-n0y//m.jpg!s-z-/r!0i/c-n0i-//m.jpg
After WWII (1941-1989)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------!s-z-/r!0i/c-nby//m.jpg!s-z-/r!0i/c-nbn-//m.jpg!s-z-/r!z-j-/bi1i//m.jpg!s-z-/ris-i-/c-!1k-//m.jpg (1956)!e-z-/ri1y-/bn0y-//m.jpg
No8 - 14 Apr 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's News letter by Ichiro. Thank you for many warm comments about our news letters!
Arigatou gozaimasu!
We finally remodeled our site a few days ago, and we revised size notation, shopping cart and top page.
We don't think our site is perfect. We would like to change or add more facility gradually and increase the convenience of customers.
By the way, now we are making original fabric sampler. It has ten vintage kimono fabric samples to help imagining the fabric of the items of our site. It has ten fabric scraps-- 'chirimen', 'kinsha','rinzu', 'meisen','omeshi' and others, which are all ordinary material for the kimono of our items. We already sent them to some customers, but if you wouldlike this sampler, please add the note when you place a new order. We will enclose it in your package. Just now Nana san makes many holes in the mounting paper, Jyunko san prints the mounting paper and Seiko san cuts the many fabrics! ( We are always busy with everything.)
I would like to write about my mother Michiko and her one-time-only mistake in this letter.
As we write on our web, my mother Michiko had been sewn kimono for long years. When I was child, she always sewed kimono when she did not do housework to supplement the family income. At that time, there were many needlewomen, the wage was low. ( I didn't ask her the wage, but I knew it because our family were not rich.) Her technique was top level, and some retailers named her for the sewing of high quality kimono. Her work was always precise and careful. ( It runs in the family !???? ) But only once she mistook the sewing of shibori furisode. She mistook the cutting fabric and , when it was completed, the pattern of the right front did not match. It was not seen, when it is worn, but the retailer demanded my mother to buy the furisode herself. She was told that the price was $8000 but the retailer warmly discounted to $4000. So my mother bought the furisode at that price, and put it away. It was too large to my sister, and no one could wear it because of its large size. !
But my mother honestly thought that she had a furisode at the value of nearly $8000 even if it had a very little mistake.
When we started our kimono business about two years ago, my mother displayed all her and grand mother's kimono to us. I became to know this case when she showed us the beautiful shibori furisode. At that time, I couldn't estimate the value of the furisode. I was only surprised by the story.
But now I know the real value of the furisode. It is not the something special one, like the famous painter dyed. It has unusually gorgeous design, but it is ordinary level furisode. I don't understand why the retailer said it was $8000. The way which the retailer treated my mother makes me very sad and angry. Despite the relay on my mother's technique, why could the retailer demand too much money for one-time-only mistake?
Now Michiko gets a cataract, and can not sew the kimono. But she is very pleased to advice us about kimono.
She might sell that furisode at our site in furture. That is brand new, and has large hip size. Of course we will not be able to put the price she hopes. So if we list that very special furisode with such a background on our site, we will let you know.
I must write more about shopping old and vintage kimono in Japan in this news. As I wrote, you had better visit Kyoto on 21, or 25 in every month to large temple markets. And I would like to introduce two shops for you.
We and antique kimono fan knows that 'Yaya' is the best antique kimono shop in the west Japan. Oyabu san ( shop owner) is a lady, and one of our mentor. She deeply loves vintage kimono, and has long time experience of dealing vintage kimono. She had started from sidewalk vendor in flea market in Kyoto, and now she owns most beautiful vintage kimono shop in Kyoto. She has lots of beautiful vintage kimono with top quality. If you are looking for especially beautiful pieces, 'Yaya' is the best place in Kyoto.
She has web site, and you can see the photos of shop and map there. site has English version. please click the last circle for the map)
Kimonoya has many reasonable vintage and old kimono. We have been learning a lot about kimono and kimono business from this shop.
Kimonoya is very small shop in the aera of the electric merchandise shops in Nihonbashi , Osaka. But they attract many repeated customers from all over Japan. They always sell their items at very moderate price. Owner- always says to us, 'hakuri - tabai is our way", which means "low margin, high volume policy". We see many foreigners in this shop.
Here is the web of Kimonoya, but it is only in Japanese.
The address of the shop is.
Nihonbashi 4 - 17 - 5, Naniwaku, Osaka city
tel 06-664-4699 am10:00-pm6:00, Closed on Thursdays
No.7 - 7 Apr 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya News Letter by Ichiro.
At last cherry blossoms become in full blossom here. And our daughter Mugi is preparing for the enrollment ceremony of the high school, and she is pleased with her new uniform- dark blue blazer.
In this letter, I will write about how to buy kimono in Japan for you foreigners. If you have a chance to come to Japan, we want you to buy kimonos at moderate price efficiently. The topic will be also useful to know as much about Japanese kimono market.
Very best place to buy kimonos are two large Flea Markets in Kyoto. One is held on 21 every month, at Toji temple. And another is held on 25 every month at Kintanotenmangu. If you are going to buy kimono, you should not miss these two monthly fair of 21th and 25th in Kyoto.
These two large temple fairs attract lots of kimono fans and also kimono dealers from all over Japan. For example at Toji temple, about 1200-1300 various merchants open stalls in the temple Precincts and approx 200,000 visitors come every month. Usually about 100 shops sell kimono and old fabrics. (If it is rain, the kimono shops are less than that.) When I go there, I can find many fellow kimono dealers and shop masters there. Some of them open stalls, and others look for something bonanza.
Here is the page of Toji Flea Market.
At these two markets, the vintage and old kimonos are sold at the lowest price. But the price will be higher than you imagine or the description of the guide book. The prices are not FAR cheaper than the price on e-bay auction now. Vintage kimono with high quality and rare design are at high price near as the price of sumptuous antique kimono shop. Good vintage kimonos become fewer and almost every antique dealer knows the value, so the prices are very close at any places. But about comparatively low price items are sometimes sold at quite lower price than e-bay auction. Of course we also could be able to sell lower prices, if we did not need take photos, writing description, writing e-mails, sending items and others.
For example the boy's miyamairi kimono with samurai motifs may be sold at lower price than e-bay auction. But you could not buy many of them, because they are not sold so many, and dealers or foreigner visitors will buy them in competition with others. Kimono dealers or shop masters know well, who may sell their favorite kimono at comparatively low price, so they have their route and time table to go around the stalls. If you would visit there with a guide or plan, your harvest could be richer than without them.
I would like to let you know about the storekeepers there. Many people see them as poor sidewalk vendors, and ask the discount violently. But we know some of them are respectable kimono sellers with rich knowledge about kimono, and some of them have shops in other places and earn as much as the executives of the famous company. Some of them open stalls at these market, not because they don't have a fixed shop with roof, but only because they like to do that.
So when you buy from them, I would like to advice you had better ask them discount gently. They never offer you extraordinary high price. From my experience approx 10-20% discount seems to be adequate.
You had better ask them gently, Sukoshi Makarimasenka? ( Could you please discount a little?). Usually they will offer you 10-20% discount. If they say they can't discount at all, you had better pretend to give up buying and walk away from them. Ten to one they will call you back and accept 10-20% discount.
Please don't request high-handedly like 50% or more discount. I have often seen many foreigners request too much discount, and pitch sellers into a rage.
I have little more stories about buying kimono in Japan, and I will write them in my next letter.
I have another news to tall men. We are often asked about the large size kimono for men, but they are exceptionally rare and we always had to say we were sorry we did not have them. Because many Japanese are smaller, and was even smaller in older times as pre WWII. If we order brand new big size kimono made of silk, it will be over $5000. So we could not offer any kimono for big men.
Finally we decided to make one, and it is completed now. Men with Under 190 cm height can be wear this haori-kimono-hakama set. We made it by polyester for reduction of the price, but the look is extraordinarily beautiful.
The set is formal kimono and hakama set -- includes foot wear and other accessories needed to complete the attire.
Please check here, if you are looking for large size kimono.
I have another news which I would like to inform to our repeated customers. We are going to remodel our site within a few days.
Change the Size Notation ( We will add cm, and change the description and search ) Build up the Shopping cart ( You can check the items you are holding with LINKS to the photo of the items . Both e-bay and site items. )
Featured Items Displayed on Top Page ( We will introduce more featured items & topics.)
Add Order Kimono Category ( We will add order kimono category. Would you order you own kimono?)
No.6 - 31 Mar 2003
Hello from Japan ! This is Ichiro, Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya. Sakura (cherry blossom) has not bloomed here , but it is getting warmer and warmer everyday. We hope the real spring comes to the whole world soon.
Today I (Ichiro) am going to write about the textile. Keyword is 'Shou-ken'. It means pure silk.
'ken' or 'kinu' means silk, and its kanji character is here,
'Shou' means pure, so 'shouken' means pure silk .
Brand new obi made of pure silk is attached label which guarantee its textile. The sample of the label is here.
Also on our shop you can find this label. For example, we have listed the photo of the label among the detail photos.
You can find the red kanji character 'kinu'( silk) in both photos. You can also find red figure like '2428' or '1000'. All weavers in Nishijin(Kyoto) have their numbers of the certificate stamp. So from that label, we can tell the material and weaver of the obi. The numbers are given from old weaver, so the larger number means comparative new weaver. And it is sad that many of the smaller numbers have become missing number because the many traditional weavers went bankrupt.
There are three types---pure silk ( 'shouken') obi, mixed textile obi and synthetic obi. How can we tell the kind of textile if it doesn't have a label ? Some sellers say their maru obi is silk, but is it really pure silk or silk with mixed synthetic fiber?
Frankly said, it is difficult to explain how to tell the material of obi by words. We tell by its touch of the texture , with its design. Almost all maru obi with ordinary and common design are made of silk and synthetic blend. So usually we can tell its material only by looking at the design. Pure silk obi has very soft touch. If you touch both pure silk obi and mixture obi at one time, you must be able to tell the difference between two obis. But sometimes there is disagreement among even the kimono dealers about the maru obi material, if its touch is very delicate and subtle. To determine the material of such obi, there is no way except chemical analysis. When we say 'synthetic' from this context, it means 'jinken' ( rayon ).
In Japan at very early Showa period (1926- ) the production of the rayon began. Many maru obi, which was popular obi pre WWII, were woven with silk and rayon blended. Before the rayon, some maru obi were woven with silk and cotton blend. So the touch and design is different between the rayon blended obi and cotton blended obi.
Some vintage maru obi seem to be made from pure rayon. We advice you that you had better carefully check the explanation of the seller, when you buy 'silk obi'.
If you can burn the textile of kimono or obi , there is the way to check its material. I ( Ichiro ) burn many textiles to confirm the textile everyday. SH---- Its a top secret!
We can easily tell between silk and rayon by the smell when it burned. Silk doesn't burn. If you burn the tip of the silk, fire burn out quickly when you get off the fire. It looks same as burn of the hair. Black burned part become like small balls, and it peculiarly smells just like you burn your hair. When you bring the fire near to rayon, the rayon easily take fire and burn with a flame just like you burn a piece of paper. The difference comes from the material of the both fabric. Silk is made from protein nearly same as the protein of the skin of the human. Rayon is made from pulp, so it burns like paper naturally.
If the textile is blended with silk and rayon, the burning way is between the two ways.
Let me add one more, other synthetic fabric like polyester or tetron, which are made from oil, also burn easily. But they don't become ashes, but they melt and turn into a small WHITE solid after burned. Its burning way is far different from silk or rayon.
No5 - 24 Mar 2003
Hello from Japan. This is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya News Letter.
Here in Japan it is getting warmer and warmer everyday, and we are looking forward to the bloom of cherry blossom('sakura'). Japan has long national land, so the bloom of the cherry blossom begin most south district ( Okinawa, where Bingata is made ), and it spreads to the north. We call it'sakura zensen', ( cherry blossom front ). Here is the sakura zensen map of today.
Scarlet color means full bloom. We are in the middle of Japan, so we must wait about two weeks to see the cherry blossom.
Here is the photos of beautiful sakura blossoms.
In Japan, new school year starts in spring when the sakura bloom. So the cherry blossoms remind all Japanese the entrance ceremony of school with sweet nostalgia. Sakura means a lot for us Japanese.
As you know sakura is very popular motif in kimono. But because of its strong impression, kimono with sakura motif can not be worn after the blossom is gone. To avoid it, there is'Sunjyuu'(spring-autumn) motif, which has both spring and autumn flower motifs. It is thought to be worn all season.
As already announced, I will write stories about the e-bay type auction. In this type auction you can bid higher price to one item as many times as you want just as e-bay. Ordinary the auction of this type has many buyers, and they are started relatively recent.
Just like e-bay auction the price does not determine only by the market mechanism. Bidders often bid higher price than moderate whole sale price, and often the price become far higher than the retail price. When I lost a special item against my mentor and I questioned him (the winner),' How much price are you going to retail this item?' It was indelicate question, but winner was my mentor and I wondered his closed price was far higher than the moderate price. I was astonished to hear that he was going to resell it at exactly the same price he won. Sometimes bidder wins their item not for the making money, but for their pride. Among the dealer, the bidder who can bid highest price thought to have best customers and gain the respects.
Some bidders are too proud to lose items once they voice their bid. Other bidder voice the higher bid, they bid again, and others bid higher bid again ---- so they are losing their coolness, and exceed the retail price. Some connoisseur's items are too special for general collectors, and the price of the kimono auction may be far higher than the retail shop price. Those items go around auctions eternally.
My mentor taught, 'You must not lose your item at auction ever. If you continually need Kurotomesode, you must win all kurotomesode at any price, even If the price exceeds your retail price. If you always win kurotomeose, other bidder will give up bidding kurotomesode, and you will be able to win them easily. And many dealers will come to know you are collecting kurotomesode, and kurotomesode naturally will come to you.'
This lesson is right, but the real world is more complicate. If you are thought to never lose kurotomesode, bad guy will trick you. They will sell kurotomesode at auction which you attend, and a friend of him also attend the acution as a buyer. Friend of the seller will bid against you with higher price, and try to force up the price. You will be a sucker easily, if you will never lose.
From one customer we were questioned the difference of Japanese and Westerner about the taste of kimono. Japanese like both luxurious and chic kimono. For example Japanese like tsumugi , which has chic design, but made with elaborate hand work.
Today we have listed some high quality tsumugi kimono. They are brand new, and has exceptionally warm and soft touch. We are happy if you would check today's new item.
No4 - 17 Mar 2003
Hello from Japan! This is the fourth news letter written by Ichiro.
Thank you for many e-mails about our news letters. I am very encouraged by the mails, and now I enjoy writing news letters very much. Of course it is still very difficult for me to write English, but many ideas come to my mind one after another, which I would like to write in news letters.
In this letter, I will write about the auctions we attend. Before writing about bid, I would like to let you recall the scene of the auction rooms. At the large tatami room in a shrine or a temple, about 15'zabuton'(Japanese cushion) are arranged in a horseshoe shape, and chairs are arranged around the zabuton in same shape. At all old−line auction zabuton seats are reserved by powerful retailers, and new comers must sit the chair seat or stand at the outer of the chairs. It means time-proven retailers have an advantage over the newer retailers. In a sense it is reasonable, because they have been contributed to the auction for a long time.
If you sit the zabuton seat, you would be able to touch the fabric, and examine the detail of the weave or dye. You would also be able to see the stains or patina too. And one more important advantage is that you are easy to let auctioneer hear your bidding voice.
Often the auctioneer sells without the explanation, if you sit the chair seats or stand outer the chairs you couldn't tell the material and couldn't see the patina and stains from that seat. So you couldn't bid high limit price with confidence.
Now we reserve own zabuton seats at some auctions (all your attentions and orders have given this advantage to us. We thank you very much!! ). But at the beginning stage of our business, we used to bid from the standing seat and lost much money. Now, sometimes I am astonished by excessively high price bid from outer seats, which are for the synthetic pieces or stained pieces.
Now let me introduce the bid systems. There are about two different bid systems. At comparatively small and old-line auction, you can only one bid by one voice. ( one-bid auction ) At large and newer auctions, you can bid higher price on the other bids as many times as needed, just like e-bay auction. ( e-bay type auction)
At one-bid auction all bidders voice ( or SHOUT!!) their price at once. You must know the moderate price, and bid a little bit higher price than it to win the items. If you bid far lower price, you would bring shame on yourself. ( Other bidders would think 'Ichiro knows nothing about kimono!' ) If you bid far higher price, you would win the item but lose face and some money. Other bidders would say ' Kirei!', which means 'bountiful and cool bit ! '. But almost every time that words contains the feeling that it is a foolish high bid.
At this type auction there are many unwritten rules. For example please imagine an auctioneer is selling a beautiful furisode which is suitable for foreigners. I want it at the aroud 10000. Auctioneer voice the starting price ' hassen yen!! ( 8000Yen !! )' , so I shout ' Ni !!! ( 2 !! ' ) . In some cases I win the furisode at 12000, and auctioneer discount the price from 12000 to 10000.
But often the results are different. If other bidder voice ' Nana!! ( 7 !!), auctioneer reads the bid as 17000, and sell it to the other bidder. I lost. But if the auctioneer thinks the furisode is more suitable for me, auctioneer reads my bid as 20000, and sell the item to me. He will discount the price from 20000 to 18000. Of course sometimes the auctioneer asks the bidder the bid price ( 'Did you mean twenty or twelve?'), so we sometimes can select whether to win at higher price than we thought or lose the item. Auction proceed at high speed based on a tacit agreement and atmosphere. You must answer quick as a wink. If you win the furisode, it is tossed to you, and right after that the next item is showing while you are wondering the judgment is right or not.
You can also voice 'Ichi-ni !! (1-2!!)', but it will lose the chance to get at higher price.
About another type of the auctions, I will write in the next letter. In that type auction, there are many interesting stories.
No3 - 10 Mar 2003
Hello from Ichiro, Kimono Flea Market. This is third news letter written by Ichiro.
I will write about used and vintage kimono auctions. I hope you enjoy the story.
We, used and vintage kimono retailers , lay in a stock of kimono from auction, general people, 'ubudashiya' and familiar retailers. 'Ubudashiya' is the whole saler of sed kimono, and they collect their stock from general people and sell to retailers.
When we buy from familiar retailers, the trade is called 'komukai' or 'nakama'. We sometimes have some stocks which are not suitable for our own customers, and sell them to familiar retailer who know the customers for those stocks. Sometimes we sell them at auctions.
To attend auctions we need the licence of antique dealing autorized by police, and the referrals to organizer of the auction. Attendance is approx 30 - 80, and the transaction value is approx $3500 - $20000. Auction organizers are influential retailers or whole salers, and they have encyclopedic knowledge of kimono. They must be charismatic in a kind, because they need to arbitrate the bids of very competitive retailers. Orgaizers ordinary get 5% fee of the transaction value.
Nowadays several vintage and used kimono auctions are held almost everyday all over Japan. Auctions have grown fastly. Our mentor, who is the one of most famous kimono dealer in Japan, says that the auction for kimono retailers is the most certain earner.
He says, if the retail sales become weak, retailers must change their stock for variety's sake. So if the vintage kimono market become extremely slow, organizer of the auction is iron rice bowl. His outlook seems to be correct. We attend 8 auction in a month, and frequently we are invited to new auctions.
Kimono auctions also grow respond the market mechanism. At the auction with the largest attendance and many established retailers, the contract price become highest.
Naturally the sellers tend to entry their best items to the dominant auction, and increase of entries of valuable pieces pulls more attendance.
Most dominant two auctions are held in Kyoto, and one in Tokyo.
At dominant auctions we have opportnities to come across many valuable kimono, but the price will be high. At small auctions we can expect the lower price, but we can not expect many valuable pieces. It is difficult to get many valuable kimono at lower price at once.
Most auctions are held at large tatami(flooring rush mats) room of old shrines or temples. Cushions are arranged in 'U' type, behind the cushions chairs are arranged. Organizer brings out the kimono in turn. If the kimono has high value, they are showed one by one, and added some comments from the organizer. But ordinarily 3 - 10 kimono or obi are showed at once, and attendance bid the bundle.
To bid ---- I notice that the news become too long.
I have lots of interesting story about auctions. We will write them in the future news letter.
No2 - 3 Mar 2003
This is Ichiro, Kimono Flea Market.
Thank you for many replays about previous news letter. We thank for your patience with my unskilled English. I am very happy that you seemed to enjoy it.
Thank you again!
In this news, I was going to write the price of vintage kimono, but I noticed that it is difficult to write the whole process and situation of the pricing in one letter.
In sum, vintage kimono prices are simply determined by the market. For example, the price of the vintage kimono on e-bay have become nearly the same price level here in Japan, but approx two years ago they were more expensive. Its reason is apparent - sellers and items have increased on e-bay.
For example, please imagine you have a vintage haroi with bat motif. If you know someone who collects the bat motif items, you will be able to estimate it as high price, but if you don't know there are anyone who collects bat motif items, it only seems to be fun motif and you will not be able to imagine the extreme high price. If only you know the bat motif collector, you will be able to collect bat motif in back room at low price, and sell them to the collector at high price. But in the real world, if you begin to collect bat motif kimono, many kimono dealers will notice it, and they also begin collecting them and intend to sell to you, or locate the collector, and they intend to sell them directly. So the market price of the bat motif kimono will rise at hand.
But if the collector quit collecting bat motif, market price of bat motif kimono will drop sharply.
The situation and process of the vintage kimono seems to be the same as other collectibles.
I recently noticed that the price of the vintage kimono are nearly equal to the price of the European clothes. Discriminative kimono which the kimono lover adore are very expensive like the brand clothes. The price of the haori is near the price of jacket, and price of furisode is nearly equal to the price of the formal dress. People are willing to pay over $500-$1000 for their special gala attire.
We bought many used and vintage kimono at kimono dealer's auctions. I am going to write about the auction in next letter. I also would like to write about flea market in future.
I think these theme will be able to tell the more information about the price of vintage kimono.
No1 - 22 Feb 2003
Hello from Japan! This is Ichiro, Kimono Flea Market. We always thank you for your attention and ordering us. Thank you again! Arigatou gozaimasu!
Almost every customers notice that English of the e-mails and discription of the site are different.
YES! Always Yuka writes e-mails, and Ichiro writes discription. Yuka had lived in USA ( California ) for a year, and she writes better English than me ( Ichiro ), and she also speak English.
If you call us, I only say 'Thank you for calling' and chenge to Yuka, but it is not because I am abrupt. I am not good at English, so when I write English, I always feel as if I were very small boy.
But anyway I resolved to write news letter to express my continuing gratitude. I am very sorry for not good English.
This time I would like to write the price of kimono.
If you have been to Japan, you might see the price of kimono at department store. Its price is very very expensive, and you might be surprised to its price. For example Bingata Furisode may be over $10000, and ordinary yuzen furisode is around $3000.
Of course high quality kimono like genuine 'Bingata' is done incredible elaborate hand work by skilled craftsman , and its high price is reasonable.
But we don't think all prices of kimono are reasonable even at department store. Department store is considered to be most trustworthy retailer in Japan. ( Ichiro had been worked 19 years at Daimaru, one of the most famous department store.)
Quite many kimono are sold at the price of 4-5 times of whole sale price. At the same time some kimono are sold at even lower price of the whole sale price. Retailers pull many customers by the lower price, and intend to sell quite high price kimono to get earnings. Surprisingly enough, same kimono are sometimes sold at far removed prices even in department store.
Unfortunately nowdays most buyers of the department store are not genuine merchant. They don't buy but only rent the merchandise. So the buyers of the department store don't decide the retail pricing.
Whole salers dicide the pricing. Whole salers must pay the wages of the sales assistants, advertisement charges, display cost, merchandise loss and benefit of the store to the stores.
So the price must be quite high than the whole sale price, and buyers of the department store give silent approval.
In spite of its condition, why the whole salers offer the merchandise to department stores?
Answer is simple. In spite of its high price, with its powerful sales power the department store sell lots of kimono at maximum effectiveness. Even if the small stores sell the same kimono at half price of deparment price, department store must sell more than small stores.
As a customer, we must carefully check the quality and price to avoid paying excessively. It is not enough to select trustworthy retailers.
The above story is the price of brand new kimono. About the price of the used and vintage kimono, I will write another news letters.
We are going to sell some brand new kimono at our site. We buy all the kimono, and we decide the price. It is very lower than the price of department store. We can not put 4-5 times of whole sale price! ( smile - never can't! ) Because we are small retailer, and YES! We are the genuine trustworthy retailers!
Would you believe us ? YES! Ichiro & Yuka promise!
Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya