Choujiya is a traditional, fourth–generation, dyed textile and kimono-washing retail shop established in 1895. The store sells about 300 types of “tenugui” (hand towels), dyed using the traditional “chusen” dyeing method, as well as other items made using tenugui, such as cloth book jackets.
The chusen dyeing method that Choujiya still uses is a traditional stencil dyeing method in which the dye is poured onto the layered fabric, which has been protected against dyeing using special glue so that only the stenciled areas are dyed. In addition to tenugui, this method is often used for “yukata” (informal cotton kimonos) and washcloths. Many of the steps, including placing the fabric on the stencil plate, applying the dye-protective glue using a spatula, and folding the fabric to perfectly match the pattern, are still manually performed today.
Another characteristic of the chusen dyeing method is the fact that the colors stay for a long time because the fabric is dyed in the same pattern on both sides, unlike printed fabrics. Chusen-dyed tenugui have many uses, including drying one’s hands and wiping away perspiration. They can also be used to wrap a bottle or other gift items, or they can be framed and hung on the wall. As they are compact despite a large size and as they can dry quickly, chusen-dyed tenugui comes in handy during trips and outdoor activities.
In addition to traditional patterns such as “seigaiha” (waves in a blue ocean) and “asanoha” (flax leaf), many other seasonal motifs are also available. Incorporating the four seasons of Japan into your daily life will add enjoyment. For example, it is recommended to select motifs a little ahead of the current season, such as iris, hydrangea, magnolia, and “koinobori” (springtime carp streamers). Users can find their own creative ways to use tenugui.