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 Kimono Dyeing Master Itchiku Kubota


 Entrance to the Itchiku Kubota Museum 

Just under 100 years ago, a young Itchiku Kubota visited the Tokyo National Museum and stood awestruck for 3 hours in the face of a single sliver of cloth. This cloth was dyed using the ancient and mysterious Tsujigahana technique which also information on had been lost. Itchiku at the time was a young textile apprentice who had become completely bewitched by the unique fabric— and thus decided to revive the lost art with his own two hands.

After spending time as a WWII POW he returned to Japan from Siberia with an overflowing desire to depict the beautiful nature he had seen in his captivity through colors and designs on fabric. However, reviving the lost Phantom Dyeing Technique was not at all simple and, he soon realized that many of the tools and materials that he needed had yet to be recovered, along with the detailed records of the dyeing technique. Yet this did not discourage him. Instead, it lit a fire inside of him, and finally, at the age of sixty, he succeeded in producing his very own“Itchiku Tsujigahana.” Itchiku Tsujigahana can be characterized as a modern revival of the traditional style with his own twist. This technique focuses on expressing clear and beautiful designs, some with vibrant eye-catching colors and others featuring subtle shades and brush strokes all that echoed not only the skill of a textile craftsman, but of an artist as well.

In fact, within the art world, Itchiku Kubota is known as the world’s first and only“textile impressionist.”A title that is well-deserved.

The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

As for many Japanese artists, Mt. Fuji was one of Kubota’s greatest inspirations. The nation’s grandest mountain, Mt. Fuji was once worshipped as a god. The immense beauty of the mountain was, to Kubota, a sacred symbol that revealed a different face to him each time he saw it. And so, it is no mystery as to why he decided to build his workshop at the foot of the mountain in Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture. Years later, that very same workshop would be transformed into a museum dedicated to Kubota and his immense collection of fabric  works.  

But of course, its great Mt. Fuji views are not all the museum has to offer. From the grand wooden door of an ancient Indian castle that greets you at the museum’s entrance, to the Catalan-style architecture of the main building, the entire atmosphere of Kubota’s museum makes you feel as though you have entered a different dimension. You can even stop to admire his prized glass bead collection that is on display near the front desk, which he spent his lifetime amassing as he traveled across the world.

However, the main attraction of the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum is, of course, Kubota’s personal works.

Although the works on display are often on rotation, or lent out to other museums, you will always have the chance to view many of the superb pieces of his life’s work entitled, “The Symphony of Light”. This series, which had started as a small collection, grew from 5 pieces to 34 over the span of twenty years, leading all the way up to his death in 2003. The grand plan for this collection was to include 80 unique pieces that, when displayed side by side, would spread out to reveal a continuous, captivating landscape encompassing his two major themes:“The Four Seasons” and “The Universe. And within each and every design would be the intricately placed Tsujigahana flowers.

In summer of 2020, just a little less than a hundred years after the young Itchiku Kubota first stood motionless in front of that sliver of Tsujigahana fabric at the Tokyo National Museum—16 of Kubota’s very own Tsujigahana pieces made their way to the same museum’s display. Brilliantly and beautifully, they stood on display in the museum, perhaps waiting for another budding artist to see them and be inspired to leave their mark on history with his orher own unique colors.





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Currently, the Itchiku kubota Art museum has closed temporarily to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. There are currently plans to reopen the museum on April 1st so please plan your visit for after that date.

For more information on the Kubota Itchiku Museum, please see their multilingual homepage ( here ).

For more information on the best places to stay within Yamanashi please visit our Instagram page WelcomeToYamanashi. Updates are made every week in English, Portuguese, and French!


Published on

  • March 16, 2021


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