Experience the world of beautiful handwork through textiles and food A craftsmanship complex laboratory “tamaki niime” (Nishiwaki City, Hyogo)
Kitaharima of Hyogo Prefecture is also called “Japan’s heso (bellybutton),” as it is located where the latitude and longitude cross, dividing the Japanese island into two equal parts in the north and south. Here, let us introduce you to the world of “tamaki niime,” a unique brand which expands “Banshu-ori,” a traditional handicraft nurtured for many years in Kitaharima.
Originally a local industry during the agricultural off‐season, Banshu-ori developed into a worldwide traditional handicraft
“Banshu-ori” is cotton textile that developed primarily in Kitaharima (currently Nishiwaki City), Hyogo Prefecture, based on technology brought back from Kyoto more than 200 years ago. It was carefully nurtured by the locals as an important local industry during the agricultural off‐season. Its characteristics are “saki-zome,” dyeing the threads before they are woven, and “hira-ori,” a method of weaving the threads of weft and warp alternately, which are simple ways, but they make the fabric strong and excellent in resistance to friction, so the fabric has been widely used, particularly for making shirts. Banshu-ori has been rated favorably for its high quality, and because of its strong points of the natural touch, rich colors, and soft feeling to the skin, it was favored by top international brands such as Louis Vuitton and Burberry and others from early on.
In the late Meiji era, Banshu-ori moved on from home manufacturing to factory production, and they expanded sales channels to Asia after WWI, and to the U.S. and also Europe after WWII. Sales reached its peak in 1987, but because of the collapse of the bubble economy, influx of foreign products into the domestic market, among other reasons, production once declined to below 10% of the peak period.
However, after being at the mercy of the period, with many twists and turns, a new movement in Banshu-ori took place — fashion designer Tamaki Niime came into the picture.
One and only designer Tamaki Niime leads Banshu-ori to the world
Tamaki Niime is a fashion designer who in 2004, launched her own brand “tamaki niime,” using Banshu-ori techniques comprehensively, from design to weaving. Their thoughtful and sincere way of creating extends to the choosing of materials and production, such as attempting to culture cotton, purchasing cotton that are agrochemical-free, using unlevel dyeing techniques, and making various efforts of making threads when dyeing. Among their wide range of items, their very unique shawls were what made the name “tamaki niime” well known to the world, with their distinctive way of using threads, matching colors and designs that are not found anywhere else. Being both soft to the touch and wear resistant and strong, this shawl was elected as part of “The Wonder 500, a collection of Japan's Finest Goods, Foods, and Travel Experiences” project promoted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. This tamaki niime shawl that can be worn by anyone, regardless of nationality, age, gender, or figure has gained many fans not only in Japan, but the world as well. The shawl is sold in over 200 shops in more than 15 countries, and it triggered tamaki niime’s name to sublimate into an international brand.
A lab complex of factory and shop established on their 10th anniversary - niime mura
In September of 2016, a new studio and shop opened on their old factory site. The novel design of their “Shop & Lab” allows you to see the looms in their workshop, and the staff at work. There is also “tabe room” and “nomu room” and more where you can eat food made from natural and healthy ingredients. They have been vigorously holding events eating local ingredients and dishes, and more. You will be able to feel the world of tamiki niime through the entire lab.
Kitaharima is only an hour and a half away from the popular city, Kobe. Why not go on a small trip to Japan’s bellybutton and experience being in a place of sincere handworks?
●550-1, Hie-cho, Nishiwaki-shi, Hyogo Prefecture
●Approximately a 5-minute walk from JR Kakogawa Line “Nihon heso koen” Station
*The above information was last updated August 5, 2018. For further information, please contact the facility directly.
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