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-What are uchikake?

“In pursuit of beauty and dignity”

In the past or present, women’s desires remain unchanged. It is this pursuit that led to the evolution and completion of the uchikake.
Uchikake first began to emerge in the Muromachi period, when women from wealthy samurai families wore the uchikake over their kosode robes.
The hem is stuffed with cotton, called fuki, and allows the wearer to walk boldly without worrying about tripping over it. It also makes the wearer appear taller. Creating an evenly padded and firm hem requires a level of skill made possible only by years of experience.
The uchikake is the result of endless improvement to shine the brightest and stand out among other women.

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Pine and peacock on red brocade uchikake

The color red was used in shrines from ancient times, believed to have magic powers to ward off evil. It represents burning flame, the setting sun, and the color of blood. The thick fabric that incorporates an obi sash’s weave combines both weaving and embroidery.
As the earthly manifestation of the phoenix, the peacock symbolizes love, beauty, happiness, wealth, and prosperity. Because it eats venomous snakes, it is revered as a guardian deity and protector of humanity.
The ancient pine represents long life.

Crane, tortoiseshell, plum, and pine on black uchikake

A tortoiseshell pattern is woven into the obi sash material woven for the uchikake. The solid imprints are not overshadowed even by weight of the uchikake’s luxurious embroidery.
Gold is woven into the figured satin lining. Golden cranes soar high in the heavens, looking down on the plum and pine trees below in this impressive uchikake. The black fabric showing through the design and the three dimensional look achieved by different lengths of embroidered thread in the pine heighten its overwhelming impact.

All-embroidered gold and silver phoenix on white silk gauze uchikake

Silk gauze, used for light summer clothing, is too thin and light to support embroidery of gold and silver. So a core is inserted between a silk gauze outer fabric and silk gauze lining to boost the garment’s durability. The legendary phoenix, said to appear only in times of peace, takes flight amidst blooming tree peonies that represent happiness and wealth. This uchikake is a valuable work of art that will never be recreated by future craftsmen.

Light pink gradation on white silk gauze uchikake

An uchikake featuring a lovely pink gradation. Despite its use of similar colors, the variation in leaf patterns adds artistic depth. The gradation goes from dark at the bottom to emphasize the pattern to light at the top to enhance the wearer’s beauty.
Summer uchikake are rare, but we have four.

Phoenix on lattice pattern with rectangles or octangles uchikake

An extraordinary creation made possible only by painstaking labor. The complex beauty of its intricately combined dyes and weaves entrances the viewer.
This masterpiece uses delicate craftsmanship to convey imagery reminiscent of the Asian continent and the Silk Road. The phoenix in flight across the skies of a foreign land represents a powerful fusion of cultures. The color of the foil varies by location, creating exceptional beauty when the light strikes it.

Plum, chrysanthemum, and rabbitear iris on gold uchikake

The art on the body and sleeves combine to form a single painting, brought together by curves to create a luxurious and lovely uchikake. The squares scattered across the golden fabric are all incomplete, combining with the circular flowers to create a calm harmony. While rooted in tradition, the design is just as noteworthy in the modern day.





-What are furisode?

“Formal wear in hopes of a good marriage”

The history of the furisode is long. Its fundamental shape dates back to the Asuka period, and it is said to have evolved into its current form during the Edo period. In the Meiji era and beyond, it has assumed its position as the primary formal wear for unmarried women.
The act of swinging long cloth or sleeves represents “tamafuri” (soul swinging), said to ward off evil and energize divine spirits.
Young women began to swing their sleeves in hopes of a good marriage, and the sleeves gradually grew longer to make their prayers more effective. In the Edo period, the garments grew more decorative, and colorful furisode were worn on special days or formal occasions.

Tortoiseshell satin damask furisode with auspicious patterns

A masterpiece created by sewing glossy, white satin damask into a kimono shape, repeatedly dyeing the base color, and putting it into the hands of craftsmen to apply gold film, embroidery, and other decorations. Within the tortoiseshell pattern, pine, bamboo, plum, chrysanthemum, and cranes are depicted in vivid colors.

Flowing water, treasure ship, and flower furisode

Auspicious patterns are woven into the figured satin. The flowing water pattern represents purity and justice, as moving water remains unsullied. A treasure ship floats in the water, symbolizing the wealth it carries in gold, silver, and riches. The ship in flowing water also keeps the wearer from harm by carrying troubles away on the current. The treasure ship, said to carry the gods, forms a prayer for divine protection.

Blurred chrysanthemum and pine crepe black furisode

Once silk is dyed black, it remains constant and unchanging no matter what other color dyes are applied. As a result, it signifies loyalty and sincerity. Pine, representing peace, long life, and divinity, is depicted not in a single color but blurred, requiring an extremely difficult technique. In the final step to create this dignified furisode, gold foil is scattered on a bold pine and chrysanthemum pattern that symbolizes nobility, purity, and refinement.

Wisteria flower on gold furisode Momoyama

A luxurious furisode of figured satin, with gold film used throughout. The base pattern woven into the figured satin changes in appearance depending on the light. A masterpiece that takes into account even the flow of the fabric’s unevenness, this elegant and magnificent furisode sparkles in the light. Gold film is applied over the completed art, with dynamic borders serving as an accent.
Softly applying gold film over the entire furisode is an Edo period technique that has now been lost.