In the mountains of Mie Prefecture, in the ancient castle city of Iga, traditions dating back some 400 years are still very much alive today.
Among these traditions is the production of Iga kumihimo braids found in top kimono. Using an ancient technique, the decorative strings that are specifically used to tie obi are manufactured in this region.
Iga kumihimo holds a 60-percent share of the domestic braid market. The origins of this intricate art form go way back, perhaps as far back as the Nara Period (710-784), when the braiding technique was brought over to Japan together with Buddhism.
One of the young practitioners of this time-honored braid work is Hiroharu Fujioka, 34. He is the fourth generation proprietor of the Fujioka Kumihimo-ten shop. He can usually be found sitting at a braiding loom, called a “takadai,” working several spools of dyed silk to create exquisite flat braids and cords.
Read the rest of the story: Father and son keep kumihimo braiding tradition alive in Iga.