Kyoya Somemonoten (Dye House)

Updated: May 17

京屋染物店


Introduction to Kyoya

Kyoya Dye House is one of the few remaining traditional dye houses in Japan which can provide everything from design to dyeing to tailoring. This Ichinoseki-based brand has thrived for over 100 years, diligently crafting custom-made products for its clients. While adhering to traditional dyeing techniques to preserve parts of Japanese culture, the company readily adopts modern technologies which can keep up with the demands of today.

Kyoya specializes in a range of dyeing methods which include traditional dyeing, hand painting, brush dyeing and indigo dyeing. The company not only prides itself on the stunning quality of their products upon purchase, but the enhanced brilliance of each piece through extended customer use. Here are examples of their products (with permission of Kyoya Somemono):

Check out their homepage(s) for more.

EN: https://kyo-ya.net/en/ JP: https://kyo-ya.net/ FR: https://kyo-ya.net/fr/

My experience

In the five years that I've lived in the Japanese countryside, I've had wonderful opportunities to experience traditional Japanese attire on multiple occasions from wearing happi coats while carrying mikoshi which is a portable miniature shrine to being dressed in full-on Japanese wedding attire (three times, once for my actual wedding). Japanese traditional attire connects me to some of my most incredible moments in Japan and symbolizes the warmth of local communities who openly invite us to share in their celebrations.

But more often than not, this type of 'traditional wear' is not suitable for everyday purposes, so I was excited when I came across one of Kyoya’s collaboration lines with sock brand Tabio, as I'm a sucker for practical, traditional Japanese clothing with a modern twist.

I wandered over to their main store which is situated in Ichinoseki's castle town, right next to Urashima Park, and was met by the customer service ambassador who sat me down and chatted with me over a coffee. I realized that there're a multitude of reasons why this company has flourished over the last century. These reasons are not confined to their exquisite dye-works, but also due to their efforts to expand and evolve, such as opening a shop in France, the creation of multilingual websites and YouTube videos, and collaborative works.

After our chat, I was shown the operation behind the captivating works. From the art created by the designer, to the workers who carefully dye the cloth, the worker operating the steamer (the largest of its kind in Japan apparently), the worker who thoroughly washes each piece by hand and the focused workers stitching together every individual order - each professional seamlessly working in their element to create the perfect product for their customers. Needless to say, I was grateful for the opportunity and ready to get my hands on a piece of their quality work.

I came in the hopes of buying a business card holder but was told that they’d shipped all of them off to France recently and they had none in store. As I was about to head out the door, a staff member pointed out that there was one left, and to my surprise, it had a cloud motif on it. Now, anyone who knows me knows I love clouds. I'm a cloud fanatic. But the addition of the detailed description of what was behind the design made me feel even more connected to my purchase. Not just the meaning of the color and motif, but even the way they made the cloud’s purple color from a stone found in Ichinoseki called shiunseki.

What I left with was the realization that closer you look at the finer details in the works, the more you unravel the profound history and processes behind them – and a snazzy cloud card holder. Lastly, a message to from Saori Shouji, Customer service ambassador:

'For over a century, we have been able to unite with festivals across Japan through making tenugui, hanten and costumes. It's our duty as a dye house to relay that history, our techniques and our passion for festivals in the products we create. In recent times, more and more dye shops are closing down. If there are no dye shops, there won't be places to make the traditional garments. We want to be able to support festivals for centuries to come as well as use our techniques to provide everyday products that will be loved by everyone'

Details Tel: 0191-21-1255 Address: 所在地一関市駅前41 Opening Hours: 8:30~19:30 Email: info@kyo-ya.net

Webpage: https://kyo-ya.net/en/

How can you get a piece of their work? You can pop on by the shop where they have a selection of pieces to choose from. They also accept online inquiries from abroad, consultations are done via email. Consultations ensure the most suitable dyeing method for desired color, design and intended purpose of the product.


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