tourism

Visit an Innovative Kurume Kasuri Weaver’s Workshop

Make Your Own Scarf at Shimogawa Textile (2hrs)

Original kasuri scarves
Kyozo Shimogawa, the third-generation owner of Shimogawa Textile
Old power looms weaving Kurume Kasuri
The Kurume Kasuri fabric stock
Unraveling the fabric weft to make tassels

Even among the few remaining Kurume Kasuri textile weavers (orimoto) in the Chikugo region of southern Fukuoka Prefecture, Shimogawa Textile is unique in its trailblazing approach that isn’t bound by conventionality. In this tour, third-generation owner Kyozo Shimogawa will explain the production process of Kurume Kasuri and the work of Shimogawa Textile. Afterwards, take a look at factory floors filled with belt-line power looms — a historical relic of the industrial revolution. Finally, choose your favorite design from Shimogawa Textile’s vast selection of Kurume Kasuri fabrics, and make your very own scarf without needing to use needle or thread.

  • Lecture by an experienced Kurume Kasuri weaver and factory visit
  • Talk directly with makers and deepen your understanding of Kurume Kasuri
  • Experience the innovative spirit of Kyozo Shimogawa, who has also actively engages in international collaborations
  • Select a fabric of your choice from a wide selection of Kurume Kasuri patterns and make your own scarf (value equivalent to ¥7,000 ~ ¥9,000)
  • The scarf-making process does not involve needle and thread, so even those without sewing experience can participate in the workshop
  • After the experience, you can also purchase fabrics and other Kurume Kasuri products at reasonable prices
Kyozo ShimogawaThird-Generation Owner of Shimogawa Textiles
Founded in 1948, Shimogawa Textile is the only remaining Kurume Kasuri weaver (orimoto) in Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture. After graduating college, Kyozo Shimogawa decided to take over the family business and apprenticed in Kurume Kasuri production techniques. Not bound by existing production methods, Shimogawa has developed original fabric designs and new sales channels. These unique efforts, including collaborations with European designers, make Shimogawa Textile stand out among Kurume Kasuri weavers.photo:Koichiro Fujimoto
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Kurume Kasuri: One of Japan’s Three Major Ikat Textiles

Kasuri is a weaving technique where pre-dyed yarn is used to create patterns in the warp or weft threads, or both. This technique, also known as ikat, is said to have originated in India and spread throughout the world, coming to Japan through Okinawa. Kurume Kasuri was invented around the year 1800 by a young girl named Den Inoue, a weaver from the former Kurume feudal domain (what is now an area in southern Fukuoka Prefecture that contains towns such as Hirokawa, Chikugo, and Yame). Though there used to be over 300 Kurume Kasuri weavers, today less than 20 remain. These makers employ a wide range of techniques, from traditional hand weaving and indigo dyeing, to production that uses power shuttle looms — this diversity in production a defining characteristic of the modern Kurume Kasuri craft.photo: Koichiro Fujimoto

A Kurume Kasuri power loom at Shimogawa Textile

Shimogawa Textile: A Weaver Overflowing with Innovative Spirit

Founded in 1948, Shimogawa Textile is a Kurume Kasuri weaver (orimoto) specializing in chemical dyeing and machine weaving — the last remaining orimoto left in Yame City. With about 20 small-width shuttle looms from the 1950s, Shimogawa Textile creates unique fabrics with a soft texture that feels almost as if they are hand-woven. Third-generation owner Kyozo Shimogawa carries on the traditional craft traditions of Kurume Kasuri while experimenting with the new possibilities by collaborating with brands and designers both in Japan and abroad. With the motto, “our factory is a studio, our work is broadcast live,” the Kurume Kasuri maker shares its activities through social media, and also actively organizes factory visits, training programs, and artists in residence from across Japan and overseas.

Giving a Lecture in Paris about Kurume Kasuri

Lecture and Factory Tour by a Third-Generation Textile Weaver

In the first half of the tour, enjoy a lecture by Mr. Shimogawa and a factory visit. In the lecture, learn about the fundamentals of Kurume Kasuri through photos and videos, including production processes that take place outside the factory. You will also be able to see how Kurume Kasuri patterns have changed over the years, and fabrics created through collaborations with designers and artists from the Netherlands, Finland and other countries. Afterwards take a tour of the weaving factory, filled with 80-year-old Toyota power shuttle looms that are still in operation — a precious relic of industrialization. On weekdays, see the looms in action amidst the bustling noises of the machines; on Saturdays, soak in Mr. Shimogawa’s explanations inside the quiet factory.photo:Koichiro Fujimoto

The weaver explains Kurume Kasuri

Pick Your Favorite Kurume Kasuri Pattern and Make Your Very Own Scarf

Experience the soft textures of Shimogawa Textile’s Kurume Kasuri designs for yourself. After choosing your favorite design from a wide selection of fabrics, such as plain, striped, checkered, or kasuri, make the scarf tassels yourself. As needles or thread are not necessary, the experience is suitable for all — even elementary school children and those that might not be particularly crafty. On a sunny day, sit on the engawa, the porch of a traditional Japanese house, and enjoy a relaxing moment with Kurume Kasuri.

Make a scarf with your favorite Kurume Kasuri pattern

How to Make Your Very Own Kasuri Scarf

1)Choose Fabric
Select your favorite design from a wide selection of Kurume Kasuri fabrics.
2)Decide Tassel Length
Cut the “ears” of the weft yarn to your desired length.
3)Unravel the Weft
Pull out the the weft threads one-by-one until the desired tassel length is reached.
Weft-Woven Kasuri and Unravelled Weft Yarn
Warp-Woven Kasuri and Unravelled Weft Yarn
4)Discover the Fabric Structure of Kurume Kasuri
For weft-woven (horizontal) kasuri, you can see how the removed weft yarn is dyed (top-left photo), whereas for warp-woven (vertical) kasuri, the warp yarns which form the tassels are dyed (photo: bottom left).
5)Finishing Touches
Finally, tie off the tassels to your liking to complete your scarf!

*If a guest does not finish making their scarf within the span of the tour, they will receive detailed instructions so that they can complete any remaining steps at home.

\Testimonials From Past Participants/

  • ・I really enjoyed how Mr. Shimogawa explained kasuri in an easy-to-understand way at the very beginning of the tour. It really drew me into the world of kasuri.
  • ・Visiting a textile factory was in itself a rare experience.
  • ・I think it would be great to even just join the tour with friends and go for a walk around Yame Fukushima wearing the scarves we just made.
  • ・By working to make the scarf, even for a little bit, I really came to love kasuri fabric. I bought additional fabric at the workshop afterwards, and plan to make another scarf at home to give to my family.
Tour Code GFYM05
Dates ・Monday to Friday 14:00~
・Saturday 10:00~
※The tour will not be held on dates marked with (-) on the reservation form.
Duration 2 hours
Schedule

※ (Times in parentheses are applicable on Saturdays)

13:50(9:50)

Meet at Shimogawa Textile

14:00(10:00)

Lecture

Tour the gallery and learn about the history of Kurume Kasuri and Shimogawa Textile. Afterwards, listen to a lecture about Kurume Kasuri by third-generation owner Kyozo Shimogawa.

14:40(10:40)

Kurume Kasuri Factory Tour

Tour the Kurume Kasuri factory, where weaving is done on 80-year-old machine looms. On weekdays, hear the bustling noises of the factory and see weaving in action. On Saturday, soak in the detailed explanations of Mr. Shimogawa in the quiet factory.

15:00(11:00)

Making a Kasuri Scarf

Choose your favorite piece of fabric from Shimogawa Textile’s wide selection. Untie the weft yarn and tie the warp yarn to make your own original scarf. If you don’t finish within the span of the tour, you will receive detailed instructions so that you can complete any remaining steps at home.

16:00(12:00)

Photos and Program Conclusion

If you wish, you can also purchase fabric (including fabric scrap bundles, etc.) and other kasuri products (cash, credit card, PayPay, GoTo Travel Coupon [electronic coupon only] accepted).

Languages Japanese
Participants Minimum 2 / Maximum 6
Meeting Place
Shimogawa Textile
1111-2 Tsunoe, Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture 〒834-0024
From JR Kurume Station
Please take Bus 30 or 31 bound for Yame Bus Office (approximately 45 minutes) to the Fukushima bus stop. It is about a 15 minute walk from the bus stop to the meeting place, Unagi no Nedoko Nativescape Store.
From Chikugo-Funagoya Station (Kyushu Shinkansen)
Please take a taxi (20 minutes) to the meeting place, Shimogawa Textile.
※ For those arriving by car, please park in the “No. 0.0” parking lot in front of the Shimogawa Textile workshop. For information on how to get to the workshop from the parking lot, please refer to the information here.
Reservation Deadline Three days before the start of the tour (for example, please apply by October 7th for a tour that begins on October 10th)
Payment Method Advance payment at the time of reservation (VISA, Mastercard, Amex, JCB)
Attire None
Tour Conductor None
Note about Tour Conductors There will be no tour conductor from UNA Laboratories accompanying this program. Customers are responsible for managing their own itineraries.
Please Note
  • The tour will be held even in the event of rain, barring cases of inclement weather such as heavy rain or a typhoon.
  • All of the photographs displayed on this website are for illustrative purposes only. Also please note that as the workshop is not a tourist attraction, the processes that visitors can see may change depending on the day, and there may be days when some machines may not be running.
  • Looms will not be running on Saturdays, but you can listen to the weaver’s explanations inside the factory. On weekdays, as the looms are noisy, the weaver’s explanation will be held outside of the factory.
  • Children of elementary school age and younger may participate in the tour with a parent or guardian. However, UNA Laboratories or Shimogawa Textiles shall not be held responsible for any injuries or accidents that may occur in the parking lot or during the tour. In particular, when touring the factory, please keep an eye on your child/children to make sure that they do not touch the machines.
  • We advise taking out domestic travel insurance when participating in this tour.
  • This tour may be cancelled in the event that its smooth implementation becomes difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the event of cancellation, the tour fee will be fully refunded.
Cancellation Policy 3 to 1 day(s) preceding the tour start date: 50% of the tour fee
Before departure on the tour start date: 100% of the tour fee
After the start of tour or no-show: 100% of the tour fee

UNA Laboratories COVID-19 Policy

UNA Laboratories is committed to ensuring the safety of our customers, staff, and community. In accordance with municipal, national, and industry guidelines for the prevention of infectious diseases, UNA Laboratories is implementing the following measures:

  1. 1. Guides will wear a face shield during tours.
  2. 2. Guests are requested to wear a mask.
  3. 3. Hand-sanitizing alcohol will be provided.
  4. 4. We will check your temperature and general physical condition at the start of the tour. UNA Laboratories reserves the right to refuse tour participation if a customer’s temperature is over 37 degrees Celsius.
  5. 5. We strive to maintain adequate social distance throughout the tour, so the maximum number of participants will be capped at six.

Travel Planning: Implementation

  • UNA Laboratories Inc. (Fukuoka Prefectural Governor Registration #2-951)
  • 3-12-22-302 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0022
  • TEL: 092-982-7956E-MAIL: tour@unalabs.jp
  • Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors:
    Aya Tamura, Noriko Yahata, Rei Watanabe
  • Business Hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays)
  • *Requests received outside of business hours will be processed the following business day.
  • *Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors are responsible for transactions held at the sales office that processes customers’ travel. Please do not hesitate to contact the aforementioned Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors with any questions or concerns regarding the travel contract.

Tour Information

Dates
・Monday to Friday 14:00~
・Saturday 10:00~
※The tour will not be held on dates marked with (-) on the reservation form.
Duration
2 Hours
Recommended Age
Suitable for All Ages
Price
¥7,800
(tax and material fee included)

※Participants under 18 years old: ¥3,500 (tax and material fee included)Participants under 18 years old (factory tour only): free