- English (United States)
Did you know there is a product called “Kishiwata Story” in the Kishiwada area? They make cotton products using mainly local and domestic organic cotton. Since the Edo period the Senshu area prospered in the textile and thread spinning industry, but has had a tough time keeping up with foreign imports recently. In order to preserve the light of the local industry, and to work with the community, people are putting forth great time and energy. We went to talk with one of these people; Yuki Ogiso of Momenya Yuki.
Familiar with cloth since childhood
Yuki’s mother was a dressmaker and she opened her own shop when she was 54 years old. Yuki started helping out at the store after she graduated from junior college. Her mother recommended that she study a bit more so she did a one month apprenticeship in a cotton shop in Nagoya, and she learned a lot about the fabric industry.
After working for many years with cotton, she participated in the “Cotton Project” in 2005 and met many other people who were involved in the cotton and textile industries. Through these relationships the “Dream Spinning Association” was founded. The cotton project was created to promote the production and sales of cotton grown in Japan; and especially cotton from Kishiwada.
Boosting the local textile industry with the Dream Spinning Association
A product called “Kishiwata Story” was created. The name is a combination of Kishiwada and “wata”, which means cotton fiber. They make skin-friendly, organic cotton products ranging from baby socks and underwear, to hand towels, and more.
Many textile companies joined the Dream Spinning Association.
The Nomura Company developed a machine to extract the seeds from the cotton plant; Taisho Spinning Company finishes the cotton into yarn; and the Kinoshita Textile Factory makes it into cloth.
There are also other companies that manufacture products for Kishiwata Story. Tatsumi Company makes shawls, Osakaya makes children’s festival vests; baby products are made by Paddock; socks are made by the Mahal Company; and hand towels are made by Yukiya. Yuki Ogiso; who graduated from art school, has taken that experience and applied it to hand towel design.
The hand towels are dyed in the Sakai chusen style but the designs are Kishiwada themed. Some examples include: danjiri, Kishiwada castle, eggplant, and the very unique, cute octopus of Takojizo. The danjiri pattern is an extremely popular souvenir. The newest design is based on the flower of Kishiwada; the rose.
Spreading the circle of support in cotton
The cotton project has been creating and selling products from domestic and Kishiwada cotton, and is working to promote it. In 2011 it held the first annual National Cotton Summit for the textile industry. A little while ago in Japan, cotton was grown in various places in Japan, such as Kawachi cotton and Izumi cotton. In the wake of the cotton project, a movement to increase cotton cultivation has taken foot nationwide.
During the first round of the Cotton Summit, famers whose land was damaged by salt as a result of the Great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami came to talk. Cotton has the ability to remove salt from the soil, so they are starting to grow cotton in those areas. The Dream Spinning Association has supported their efforts and Yuki Ogiso herself, planted cotton seeds there one year after the earthquake.It has now evolved into the Tohoku Cotton Project.
For her whole life until now, Yuki has loved and been surrounded by fabric and sewing machines.
Her familiarity and experience has enabled her to make a great variety of products.
30 years ago there was a popular patchwork class, with over 60 students at it’s peak. Yuki has joined many exhibitions for quilting and patchwork, and she possesses a very high level of skill. Even now she sometimes holds lectures at home classrooms or community centers, and has also been published in magazines.
Taking advantage of her skill and experience in quilting and patchwork, Kishiwata Story also makes masks and eco bags. Customers often ask “what’s next?” I’m looking forward to the next popular Kishiwada pattern design!