The history of nishijin

1467:
The Onin War begins. The weavers of the Otoneri-za scatter to Sakai and otherareas.

1480's:
Weavers return to Kyoto and create weaving groups such as the Nerinuki-kata and Otoneri-za

1555-1557:
Sorin Izeki of the Otoneri-za is said to have invented a method of weaving patterned textiles.

1573-1591:
It is said that new techniques for Kinran (gold bracade) and donsu (damask silk) were brought from Ming China.

1603:
The Edo Shogunate is established. During this period there were said to be over five thousand weaving machines in Nishijin.

1703:
The Nishijin area becomes a major textile producing center, containing over 160 city blocks.

1736-1740:
The textile industry flourishes, with people studying Nishijin weaving methods at Kiryu, and then going on to weave such products as sha-aya (gossamer twill).

1837:
Due to crop failures throughout Nishijin falls on hard times, and many weavers are forced to suspend business.

With the Onin War of the Murumachi Period (1338-1573), Nishijin weaving suffered a major setback. In 1467, almost all of Kyoto, including the homes and workshops of the weavers, was destroyed. Ten years of civil war followed. The weavers fled the devastated city and took shelter in surrounding areas, particularly Sakai in southern Osaka Prefecture. When the conflict finally ended, the weavers returned to Kyoto to resume their craft. One group of artisans settled on the site where the western army of Yamana Sozen had been camped during the war. This is the origin of the name 'Nishijin,' which means' west position.'

From this time onward, the art of Nishijin weaving flourished, supported by the patronage of both the Imperial court and great samurai lords, including Nobunaga Oda and his successor Hideyoshi Toyotomi. The weavers also continued to adop new technology. During their stay in Sakai, a major international port, they had learned of textile innovations in Ming Dynasty China, which they applied to new creations. By the early Edo Period (1603 to 1867) in the 17th century, there were some7,000 looms crammed into an ara of 1.6 square kilometers.
Crowds of merchants gathered daily at the auction house, located on the site as the current Nishijin Textile Center, frequently bidding up prices to astronomical levels.

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