What is Chirimen?
Chirimen is a beautiful and intricate weaving technique that was developed in the late 16th century in Japan.
Silk is folded to generate soft wrinkles in a technique called chirimen. According to a pamphlet I picked up from the Chirimen Craft Museum in Arashiyama, “the wrinkles are created by alternating two types of silk thread, twisted in different directionsThe woven cloth is at first flat, but the wrinkles suddenly emerge after rinsing dirt out of the thread. This is the moment when the breathtaking beauty of the wrinkles is born.”
It’s a rare moment in life when wrinkles are actually deemed to be pure perfection. These wrinkles are known as “shibo” in Japanese.
Traditionally, shibo is woven into finely made kimonos. Although this later developed into artistry for many other objects. Chirimen silk is now artfully woven and sewn together to create countless quirky and adorable objects like dolls, teddies, bags, toys, mobiles and elaborate displays for the home. In the Chirimen Craft Museum, I fell in love with the silk woven platters of sushi and bento boxes. They make such a lovely and unique keepsake. While I was there I bought some tiny teddies and rabbits wearing kimonos for my baby niece who had just been born safely onto planet earth.
The Chirimen Craft Museum
The Chirimen Craft Museum in Arashiyama has the perennial atmosphere of a cosy shop selling Christmas ornaments that you find in Europe. There’s golden light and peaceful music and everywhere there are seasonal gifts. In Autumn when I went, there were countless handwoven teddies, home decor and children’s gifts featuring gold and red forest sprites, red maple leaves, pumpkins and other seasonal delights.
Japan has 72 ephemeral seasons
Have a look at their beautiful and poetic iterations all 72 seasons in my article here. Each seem to be celebrated in the artful and beautiful Chirimen Craft Museum. If you ever visit the Arashiyama district in Kyoto, make sure that you don’t just see the ever popular bamboo forest and instead have a wander down the main street to the Chirimen Craft Museum. If you are a lover of quirky handmade gifts and keepsakes this is a great place for you.
Chirimen Craft Museum, Arashiyama
Business hours: 10:00~18:00
Address: 19-2, Tsukurimichi-cho, Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto