Kumihimo, a traditional Japanese craft, are braided cords made from strands of silk and cotton. This traditional handicraft has recently become extremely famous since it appeared in the popular movie Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) as the story’s key item.
At the official goods selling area at AnimeJapan2017, a kumihimo-making session will be held for the visitors, part of the festival’s theme ‘Japanese Traditional Art x Anime’. A professional craftsman will teach the participants how to make a kumihimo bracelet which looks like the one in Kimi no Na wa. Today, we would like to report on the bracelet-making experience at a Kumihimo studio prior to the event at AnimeJapan2017.
The challengers that took part in this kumihimo-making experience were two international students studying in Japan: a man from France and a woman from Portugal. Although the two students were both able to speak fluent Japanese, they never had experienced making a kumihimo before. The two anxiously listened to the craftsman’s instructions before starting.
The two craftsmen in charge of teaching the two students were Takashi Fukuda, the representative director of Ryu Kobo (Ryu Studio) who is also certified as a Traditional Craftsman of Tokyo, and Shigeki Hayashi, the dyeing and weaving craftsman. Ryu Kobo is a historic kumihimo-making studio which is loved by the Imperial family, Kabuki performers, and Japanese traditional tea ceremony practitioners. The studio has also contributed kumihimo artworks to be displayed at the Japan House built for the Rio 2016 Olympics. The craftsmen at Ryu Kobo not only make the obi-jime (sash band) and obi-age (bustle for an obi) used for kimonos, but also make fashion accessories using the kumihimo technique, and they even hold workshops at department stores.
The bracelet the two students were going to make was to be made by weaving six threads together using all fingers. In the movie Kimi no Na wa, they use a marudai (small circular table) for making the bracelet, but actually, you can easily make it at home just by using a ‘S’-shaped hook for tying the threads. It would only take you about 30 minutes to make a kumihimo long enough for a bracelet.
At first, the two students seemed to have a hard time, but once they got the hang of it, they were having fun making the bracelet. While making it, the two gave wonderful comments such as, ‘This tradition is very Japanese-like, and I think foreigners would love this activity;’ ‘By slowly making it, we can feel the Zen spirit.’
By the way, did you know that the top circular part of the marudai is called kagami (mirror)? According to Fukuda, this is because a kumihimo acts like a mirror of the craftsman’s mood while making the artwork. For example, when one makes the kumihimo in a relaxed attitude, the artwork would be in beautiful shape without any crookedness. Depending on how you are feeling while making the kumihimo, the strength in your hands change. You need to be relaxed and concentrated while making a kumihimo.
Indeed, there were knots of different sizes woven in the completed kumihimos. It was very interesting how Fukuda looked at each bracelet and interpreted the feelings and character of the creator. For those of you interested in the kumihimo-making session, I strongly recommend you to show your craftwork to Fukuda!
At AnimeJapan 2017, the kumihimo-making event will be held with a first-come system during the morning, and with a reservation system in the afternoon. The number of seats are limited, so try to make a reservation as early as you can. The colors of the threads used in the bracelet look very similar to those from the movie, and I’m sure you would be able to enjoy Kimi no Na wa from a different perspective. At the kumihimo-making event, the craftsmen from Ryu Kobo are to teach participants how to make the bracelets. Ryu Kobo has also been making the kumihimo of Kimi no Na wa which began selling at the Toho Animation Store in December, so the staff members at this studio have a deep understanding of the movie. During the visit to the studio, the staff members showed us the actual kumihimo sold from Toho animation Store and we were surprised by its high quality and resemblance to the movie’s bracelet. Fukuda mentioned that he received a unique offer from Makoto Shinkai, the director of the film, saying ‘Please make the exact kumihimo from the anime’, and Fukuda felt very happy about this. Ryu Kobo have had a rush of orders since the bracelet’s release, and its production is not keeping up with the demand. With such high quality, no wonder the bracelet is popular.
At the official goods-selling area of AnimeJapan2017, there will be collaboration goods of traditional Japanese art and anime. On top of this, collaborative T-shirts between famous designers and anime are to be displayed and sold. There will also be capsule-toy vending machines which includes limited-edition tin badges only available at AnimeJapan 2017! I recommend you check out the goods-selling area after your kumihimo-making experience!