All about Kyo-yuzen kimono.

kyo yuzen

Kyo yuzen kimono has become a synonym for the top-quality kimono. But, most people surely do not know what exactly is kyo yuzen kimono.
This time, we introduce everything about it, from the meaning of kyo yuzen, the characteristics of kyo yuzen kimono to its history. No doubt you will be a kyo yuzen kimono expert after reading this article!


What is kyo yuzen kimono?

Kyo yuzen kimono refers to kimono, the traditional Japanese dress, made with the dyeing technique called yuzen zome (yuzen dyeing).
It is said that the history of yuzen zome started when patterns were depicted on kimono with the technique conceived by “Yuzensai Miyazaki”, the senmen eshi (fan surface painting artist) who lived in Gion, Kyoto, at the beginning of the Genroku period (1688-1703) in Japan.
In this era, there was a law to ban luxurious things and to supervise the use.
And for that, kimono made with the technique “kanokoshibori (one of the ways to dye kimono)”, which was the mainstream way to make kimono back then, was banned as a luxurious item. Yuzen zome was conceived to take advantage of loopholes in this law. With the yuzen zome technique, people could make colorful kimono only by using glue, and this way it did not violate the law made by the shogunate government.
The glue for yuzen zome is called itome-nori, and acts as a stopper for dyeing agents.
Thanks to this glue, the color does not stain the pattern next to the dyed pattern or the fabric below; many more colors could be used compared to the tie-dyed kimono of the era, and many more patterns became possible to be painted. Kyo yuzen kimono used various colors and patterns and made picture-like expressions possible, and because of that, it became a huge trend among people who lived in that period and were starved of beautiful objects.

kyo yuzen itomenori


A beautiful work is born when people want it, when there are designers who can answer these demands, and when there is the technique to make it possible.
The technique of kyo yuzen and kyo yuzen kimono matched the need which people had; it makes us impressed when thinking of the feeling of people who lived in the era when kyo yuzen was created.


Kyo yuzen kimono and the likes

This technique called “yuzen zome”, from the name of its inventor, was communicated from Kyoto to different areas in Japan, and many varieties of yuzen zome were born by combining the culture and the characteristics of each area. The original yuzen born in Kyoto started to be called kyo yuzen to differentiate from other yuzen. In short, kyo yuzen kimono is the mother to all other yuzen kimono as it were.
Other than kyo yuzen in Kyoto, there are various types of yuzen zome such as edo yuzen in Tokyo, and kaga yuzen in Ishikawa prefecture.

Kyo yuzen kimono in Kyoto uses colors such as yellow and vermillion as its underlying tones, and depicted patterns are mainly traditional patterns (illustration-like, deformed patterns) such as kacho fugetsu (a Japanese word which signifies the nature, for example flowers or birds). On the surface of a kimono, gold foil is decorated, and it is famous for its overwhelming luxury and splendor.
Kyoto was the elegant world where aristocrats and court nobles resided, and that is why gorgeous kyo yuzen kimono became popular and was developed to match the atmosphere of the city.
It is created through several divisions of labor system basically, and a professional artisan in each process does their work in order to create kyo yuzen kimono.

kyo yuzen

Kyo yuzen kimono


Click here for the detailed process of making a kyo yuzen kimono: How to make kimono

Compared to illustration-like patterns of kyo yuzen kimono, kaga yuzen kimono of Ishikawa prefecture is famous for its picturesque and realistic patterns. For the patterns are to be depicted realistically, the artisans sometimes paint worm-eaten leaves or withered and faded petals. This is an interesting and distinctive feature which cannot be found in kyo yuzen kimono.

kaga yuzen

Realistic patterns kaga yuzen

And Tokyo yuzen uses astringent and simple colors such as indigo blue, brown and white, and is noted for the modern impression it gives. This kimono was loved by general townspeople. The kimono making process does not include several divisions of labor, but one kimono artist is responsible for all the process in most cases.

tokyo yuzen

Tokyo yuzen kimono

Kata yuzen and tegaki-yuzen

kyo yuzen
In modern times, there are two types of yuzen zome; “kata yuzen” where patterns are used to dye kimono, and “tegaki-yuzen” to dye with hand-painted patterns.
Kata yuzen is a technique to dye using the patterns engraved on a pattern paper, so it is known to be able to mass-create the same kimono to certain extent.
Tegaki-yuzen is literally a kimono with patterns hand-painted by the artisan. This cannot be mass-produced, but the beauty of detailed patterns and the colorfulness cannot be compared to any other, and it is regarded as the top-quality kimono. It looks amazing all the more for the hard work.
Kyo yuzen is tegaki-yuzen.

kyo yuzen kimono

We hope you get the idea of kyo yuzen kimono. The traditional kyo yuzen kimono is created by the long history of Japan.
At Japanese Kimono Online Shop, we have a collection of top-quality hand-painted kyo yuzen kimono.
It is the item suitable for a dress for a party, for a gift for your loved one, and for your collection.

Click here for our products: Kyo yuzen kimono