Amami Oshima

continuing tradition…

Wednesday’s post was long enough so I didn’t add specific information about the side trip I’m taking after the Silk Study Tour to Japan ends. Prompted by one of the tour participants who is researching the mud dyeing traditions of various cultures and locales, I was inspired to go and see this for myself and add to my Japanese textile knowledge. I will spend 4 days there learning and exploring the textiles of Amami Oshima.
Amami Oshima (oshima means island in Japanese) is the northernmost island in the Okinawan archipelago.

it is part of the Ryuku Islands

While the Ryuku Islands (and Okinawa) are well known for their Indigo dyeing and beautiful weavings using tropical plant fibers, Amami Oshima is known for its tradition of plant and mud dyeing on silk, often supplemented with indigo. Its beautiful and intricate weavings using the previously bound and dyed warp and weft threads are called Oshima Tsumugi.
This link has a good description of the process and terms.
Japan seems like it is filled with endless opportunities to learn and discover so many textile traditions and this is one I have not previously explored.
Interestingly, I realize I have already collected a small sampling of these textiles! I’ve seen them here and there in Japan and picked some up when the price was not too steep just to study and enjoy them. A sampling:

A recent video shows more of the process and the issues facing the economics behind weaving this very time consuming textile.
There is also a lot of indigo dyeing that occurs in the Ryukyu Islands perhaps in part due to its tropical and mild climate as well as the weaving of choice bast fibers, especially on Okinawa. I expect I will also see some of that on Amami Oshima as well.
I also read where they produce a special type of sake there using sugar cane…will have to try it!

So the fabric collections I will be putting together for you includes one selection that will be collected only from Amami Oshima and I wanted to explain a little bit more about what that was all about. You can see the various collections that can be ordered here in the shop.

I look forward to sharing my Amami Oshima adventures here on the blog in early June.

8 thoughts on “Amami Oshima

  1. Toni Belonogoff

    Glennis: I have been interested in Oshima Tsumugi fabric for a while: I recently took apart two OT kimono and made wide-legged, straight pants from some of the fabric. In the past I had put several OT patterns together for scarves. The pants are great – light-weight, easy to travel in. I wish I were going on the Oshima trip to see first-hand how the work is done. Toni

    Liked by 1 person

    1. shiborigirl Post author

      I understand the amami oshima cloth is very sturdy, and is easy to wear. Keep an eye on the blog- hope to get some interesting posts up in early june. nice to hear from you!


  2. trl710

    I am going to Japan in the fall for Braids. This is not my first trip to Japan and I’m trying to figure out different things to do after. Can you share a few more details about Amami. Will you be visiting particular workshops and will you be taking a class? This sounds so fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. shiborigirl Post author

      wow- I had to look that up- looks interesting! A kumihimo convention. looks like a great adventure and a lovely place. for those interested here is a link:

      Amami Oshima can be reached by plane out of Haneda and is a little over one hour flight I think About $200. There is a small museum there where I will start and I have asked for an introduction to the local dyers.

      Liked by 1 person


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