Arimatsu – shibori

Hiroshige Ukiyo-e: Armatsu Shibori


Shibori is the 400 year old art of indigo dying in Japan.  Often taking months to create one piece of fabric, the art from Arimatsu is an endangered craft.   Chinese students now come over from the mainland to learn how to make shibori.


But, the shibori from Arimatsu is the most revered.










Saturday, a few weeks before Christmas and New Years.  I expected to fight through crowds on the streets and in shops.  The streets were virtually empty and no one was in the shops.  How tragic!  Some of the work is breath-taking!


How to get there:  Take the train to Arimatsu, either from Nagoya Station or Kanayama -go to the  Meitetsu-Nagoya Line.  Get off the train, follow map at the station to the shibori region.

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Arimatsu is Japan’s historical center of shibori (tie-dyeing) workmanship, since the seventeenth century, dating back to 1608.  Arimatsu was an old Edo-period (1603-1867) post station town on the Tokaido highway between Kyoto and Tokyo.


The technique found its way to the Nagoya area when craftsmen from Oita in Kyushu, skilled in the shibori technique were ordered to help in the construction of Nagoya Castle by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and later settled in the area.

Arimatsu Narumi Shibori Kaikan is a good place to start. Classes are taught on how to make shibori:


Here is a charming video of the old ladies that spent a life time preserving the art.  I am sorry, it is in Japanese, but you will see how the work is done and you can watch the women at work.


On the main street of the old quarter there are a number of fine, preserved merchant houses, with Nurigome-style, anti-fire, clay coatings and second-floor latticework windows, including Takeda’s house.

The original buildings were destroyed by a fire in 1784 and the houses seen today date from after that year, when the buildings were rebuilt with thick plaster walls and tiled roofs as a defence against fire.


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