Traditional Kimono making in Japan may become a dead art

Yasutaka Komiya, an 84-year-old craftsman, sat on a woven tatami mat floor flicking through piles of exquisitely decorated rainbow-hued silk.

"I started learning how to dye kimono fabrics in this style when I was 12," he said. "A few hundred years ago, thousands of people were doing this. But today? We are one of only three families left in Japan who can do this work."

The kimono industry, which produces one of the most enduring cultural symbols of Japan, is in crisis. Previously sustained by the need to dress an entire nation in traditional costume, it has today shrunk to a fraction of its former size.

Now leading figures in the industry are warning that within a decade the art of traditional kimono making, a crown in Japan’s cultural heritage, could die out altogether as a generation of Japanese craftsmen who have spent a lifetime using specialist skills inherited from their own parents are now in their eighties.

Soichi Sajiki, whose family has made the garments for 200 years, said: "Japan’s kimono industry is at a critical stage. We are seriously struggling to find ways of passing on our precious craftsmanship to the next generation.

"From the silk cocoon to the final product, there are more than 1,000 processes involved in one kimono, each carried out by different specialist craftsmen. It can take 40 years to master a single technique.

"Most craftsmen today are over 80 and within the next 10 years, many will pass away. We are in real danger of losing thousands of years of kimono-making techniques."

Read the rest of the story: Kimono making in Japan is a dying art – Telegraph.

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