Tokyo Hand-Drawn Yuzen
Yuzen is a Japanese traditional technique for dyeing fabric. Within the Yuzen, Tokyo Hand-drawn Yuzen has history of more than 300 years. It is said that Tokyo Hand-Drawn Yuzen is one of the 3 most famous Yuzen in Japan, aligning with the Kyo-Yuzen in Kyoto. Although it has its name in the big 3, Tokyo Hand-drawn Yuzen first derived from Kyoto in the Edo period and evolved into a citizen’s culture. The official Traditional Craft Certification was given from the government in 1980. We had a chance to shoot and have a conversation with Ms. Itsuko Kasahara, who has her own Tokyo Hand-Drawn Yuzen business.
Your Passion & Pursuing it.
Drawing was her favorite thing to do. When it was her time to decide what she wanted to pursue as a career, she found out about Tokyo Hand-Drawn Yuzen, and became an apprentice to her master. After she got down the technique, she found another master to learn Itomé Yuzen. Learning two different Yuzen techniques, she decided to start her own Yuzen shop.
The way she flows the brush without any rough sketch is very pleasing to watch, and you can see her skills obtained through the years. Just one blink of an eye, the brilliant flowers and autumn leaves are drawn on the Kimono.
Not only does she draw on Kimono and the Obi-belts, her portfolio is full of diversity, ranging from traditional items to collaboration merchandise with popular anime. Some of them are even drawn on material that seems like it could repel the paint.
“Back then, this draper asked me to draw on this fabric. It was a very difficult type of fabric to draw on, but the draper told me that I should be able to do it if I am a professional of my own craft. Since then, I decided that I would draw on anything.”
The reason behind this mindset isn’t just about her being “professional”. She said drawing on other materials and doing collaborations with anime characters can open up a whole new door for a new audience. These new ideas help her spread this culture to a different place.
They say it’s not easy to do what you love and make a living
One of her favorite Yuzen she has ever done is the Kimono that her daughter wore in her Coming of Age ceremony. The brilliant pink design has flowers that represent her birth month and the four seasons.
“They say it’s not easy to do what you love and make a living out of it. But for me, I’m doing what I love and I was able to make my a special kimono for my daughter’s special day. I’m very happy that I chose this career.”
The way she talked about her passion was very inspiring and meant so much to our team as well. She actually holds a class where you can experience the Hand-Drawn Yuzen yourself. I’m sure you can feel her passion through the class too.