Orimono (Textile) Factories

Fuji Textile Cooperative

The Hataori Information Center (Fuji Textile Cooperative). is located next to the Bus depot at Fujisan Station and is open from 10am to 430pm every day. There you can participate in orimono workshops, shop for local orimono goods, and get information and make reservations for the “open factory” tours.

History (The Legend of Jofuku)

 Legend has it that Fujiyoshida’s textile industry began more than 2000 years ago when the explorer Jofuku, sent by the Chinese emperor to find the elixir of life, came to the Fuji area and taught the people how to weave silk. Though legends of Jofuku persist throughout Japan, it is clearly recorded that by the Heian period 1000 years ago, Fujiyoshida was already one of Japan’s leading textile producers. It is said that due to the climate and land in Fujiyoshida that the environment was not well suited for farming, but the purity and availability of Fuji spring water made this location profitable for the textile industry.

The Glamour of Kaiki Silk

The textile industry in Yamanashi, centered in Fujiyoshida, was able to create a fabric called “Kai-ki” or Kai Silk (Kai is the historic name for Yamanashi), which was renowned for its beauty and intricate designs. During the Edo period there were laws against displaying wealth or showing off by wearing fashionable clothes. Nonetheless clever weavers were able to hide fancy Kaiki Silk designs in the linings of Kimonos and overcoats, and Kaiki became a sought-after mark of status and distinction.
 By the time of WWII, Fujiyoshida was one of Japan’s leading textile producers, being home to hundreds of weaving factories. However, war efforts soon required the metal from weaving looms and machinery to use for the weapon industry, and over 9000 looms and other machines were requisitioned from the Fujiyoshida area, effectively crippling the traditional weaving industry, and the knowledge and technology for making Kaiki was lost.

The "Gachaman" Era

By the 1950s, Fujiyoshida sprang back to life as the center of textile production in post-war Japan. The town was called “Gachaman” to refer to idea that for every time a weaving loom turned it would make a sound like “gacha” and would make 1man-yen (10,000yen – about $100). The town was very prosperous, and the Nishiura area of Shimoyoshida became the nightlife headquarters of the Fuji region. Famous performers and geisha even from Tokyo often frequented the hundreds of lively establishments. It was at this time that most of Fujiyoshida’s recent history was made, including Fujiyoshida’s famous Udon (Yoshida no Udon) which was made for lunch by the men of the town, since the women were often employed at the weaving factories due to their skill in weaving intricate patterns.
 Fujiyoshida’s once glorious textile industry was by the 1960s starting to decline due to the influx of cheap foreign textiles. What remains today is but a trace of the once vital industry. There are efforts to revive the Kaiki technology, and many weaving (orimono) factories are still in operation making products such as silk neckties, wool scarves, down blankets and bespoke wholesale fabrics.

Current Revitalization Efforts

To raise awareness and revitalize the local textile industy industry, the Hataori-Machi Festival (Hata-fes) is held every October, and the “Fuji Textile Week” art festival is held every November (started in 2021). Additionally, every third Saturday of the month, there are “Open Factory” events where you can tour local factories and get your hands on locally produced textiles.

info and image source: fujiyoshida.net

Watanabe Textiles is a representative factory and brand in Fujiyoshida. More information at: https://tatsuyasuwatanabe.com/

Inquiries about contents
Fujiyoshida Office of International Affairs
Address:6-1-1 Shimoyoshida Fujiyoshida-shi Ymanashi
E-Mail:Click here.