vol.29 Bashofu, Okinawa | 芭蕉布 沖縄

Japan | 日本,Okinawa | 沖縄

It is rare to find such a beautiful piece of cloth nowadays. This cloth is always the real thing. Bashofu is one of the finest Japanese textiles in existence.

柳 宗悦『芭蕉布物語』より

Due to the Corona self-restraint from April 2020, I could not travel overseas or even domestically, but I thought it was time for me to go to Okinawa. I went to Okinawa just when I thought it might be safe to do so.


This time, we stayed in the central part of the main island and first went to visit the “Bashofu" in the northern part. Basho is a type of banana, and the cloth woven with this fiber is called Bashofu. The Bashofu Hall is located in Ogimi Village in the northern part of the island.
As you drive north along the coast, the air changes drastically around Yanbaru National Park in the northern part of the island, and you are reminded once again that Okinawa is a tropical island with tropical rain forests. When I arrived at Basho Kaikan, the basho (Japanese banana tree) and tropical flowers made me feel as if I was in a foreign country.


The first floor displays weaving tools and fabrics, and a video on the history of bashofu is shown.

芭蕉布は、バショウ科の多年草イトバショウから採取した繊維を使って織られた布。日本の別名は「蕉紗」と呼ぶ。 沖縄県および奄美群島の特産品。薄くて軽く、張りのある感触から、汗をかきやすい高温多湿な南西諸島や日本本土の夏においても、肌にまとわりつきにくく、涼感を得られる。




The video shows the process of taking the fiber from the basho tree, boiling it down, spinning it into yarn. Then, a basho cloth kimono is tailored.
Speaking of bashofu, the living national treasure Toshiko Taira, born in 1921, has been active in the industry since Taisho, Showa, Heisei, and 2025, and is still active at over 100 years of age. She has devoted herself to the revival of bashofu, which was made in many places before World War II but was on the verge of dying out afterwards. On this day, he was spinning threads in his workshop on the second floor.
Unfortunately, there were no kimonos on display, only pictures. Have beautiful folk crafts become too expensive and out of reach of the common people today?


As a later note, the bashofu kimonos could be seen at “Handicrafts of Living National Treasures Toshiko Taira and Kinyoka" at the Okura Museum of Archaeology in Tokyo.