Woven Textiles

Thin fibers spun together form thread. It is then separated into woof (horizontal) and warp (vertical) strands, which when woven together on a loom become fabric. The weaving technique employed to produce Kiryu Ori (Kiryu textiles) has been designated a Traditional Industrial Art.

While textiles are commonly used to make kimonos or western style clothing, they can also be used in a variety of ways for interior decorating.

There are various methods for weaving, however, the basic techniques are plain weave, twill weave, satin weave, and gauze weave.

Plain weave is characteristic of such fabrics as pongee (silk having a knotty textile), crepe, shirt fabrics, handkerchief material, etc. Having the same texture on both sides, this fabric is very strong.

Twill weave fabrics are characteristically used for brocade obi (kimono sashes), gold brocade, cotton denim, wool fabrics, and other close-weave fabrics which are strong but soft.

Satin weave fabrics are characterized by satin and other high luster, glossy textiles.

Gauze weave fabrics are characterized by various types of sheer, light silk gauzes and other various Jacquard weaves and layer-woven textiles.

Kiryu's fiber industry is a traditional local industry. As a textile producing district, western style production line manufacturing techniques were first established at the close of the Edo-era (mid 19th century). At present, textile production for both domestic and foreign markets continues to prosper.

From the Edo-era, merchants from Sakai, Kyo, Omi, Nagoya, Edo and other cities came to Kiryu contributing to the development of the city as a textile center. Artisans from Kanto, Tohoku, Koshinetsu, Noto and other districts were attracted to Kiryu by its developing industry, further contributing to the formation of Kiryu's local culture. At present, the textile industry emphasis is maintained as Kiryu continues to grow as a high-tech /fashion city.

It is not known exactly when textiles first began to be produced in Kiryu. However, there is evidence that in the year 714, silk was woven in Kozuke-no Kuni (present day Gunma Prefecture) and sent to the Imperial Court. In the year 905 a silk tax was levied on the area (in most areas the tax took the form of a rice tax instead). It is, therefore, possible to affirm that silk was manufactured locally from antiquity. Between 1384 and 1392 there is mention in various records of locally produced silk, known as Nittayama Silk, which was transported to other parts of the country.

Before this time it is said that the soldiers of the local Lord, Nitta Yoshisada, while carrying banners made from Nittayama Silk, conquered the Kamakura Shogunate in a battle at Ikushina Forest, an event of great significance.