The annual fabric dyeing festival, “Some no Komichi”

Every February an event known as “Some no Komichi” (染の小道) turns the river and streets of Nakai town in Shinjuku ward into a gallery filled with displays of dyed fabrics.
Supported by student volunteers and local residents from the Ochiai and Nakai areas, 2016’s hugely successful, “Some no Komichi” welcomed over 15,000 visitors.
Let’s have a look at the history of dyed fabrics in the region, and some festival highlights.

100 years of fabric dyeing culture in Ochiai and Nakai.

In the period just after the Second World War, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kanazawa were renowned as the three main production areas of dyed fabrics.
Central to Tokyo’s success was the water quality of the Kanda River (神田川) and the Myōshōji River basin (妙正寺川).
As times changed, the production of Kimono declined. Even while interest was on the wane, fabric dyeing craftsmen maintained the studios where they had forged their skills through daily study.

The “River gallery”
The “River gallery”

Even now in the neighborhoods of Ochiai and Nakai there’s a concentration of artists and craftsmen who have inherited these traditional skills, and propose new dyeing techniques of their own.
The “Some no Komichi” festival reaffirms to Japan and the world that Ochiai and Nakai are still towns where dyeing traditions continue.
The aim of the event is to give people a hands-on experience and to learn the important value and character of the area along with giving the region’s economy a boost, with local residents at the heart of everything.

Event staff giving out information.
Event staff giving out information.

Enjoying “Some no Komichi”.

Across the three days of the “Some no Komichi” festival the town of Nakai is brightly decorated with multi-colored dyed fabrics.
There are many highlights including exhibitions, and a chance to have a go at Katazome (型染). This is a form of resist dyeing, where paste is applied in places to stop the dye from penetrating the cloth. Stencils are used to create patterns and shapes.
Two absolute must-sees of the festival are the “River Gallery” with dyed fabrics spread out over the Myōshōji River, and the “Street Gallery” with Noren displayed under the eaves of local stores. Noren are split curtains that traditionally hang in shop doorways, and these have been specially produced by artists for the festival.
During the event there are also stores that provide Kimono rental and dressing services, so you can take part and make your experience even more special.

It’s even more fun in a Kimono!
Be enchanted by the beautiful “River Gallery”.

A spectacular river show!

Dyed fabrics being washed in the river at Ochiai and Nakai was a common sight up until the mid-1950s.
“Some no Komichi’s” main attraction, the “River Gallery”, brings memories of that time back to life with multi-colored fabrics making a bridge across the river surface.
It’s a wonderful new landscape for the children and local residents of Nakai to enjoy.
The 2016 “River Gallery” was the festival’s longest attraction, at 300 meters.
The vision of cloth with delicate Edo Komon patterns and exquisite Yuzen-zome designs billowing in the wind is quite a sight.
Dye artwork by groups of people using less formal dyeing methods with children’s hand-prints and animal pictures called the “Dyed cloth of 100 people” (百人染め) is also well worth a look.

The “Dyed cloth of 100 people” made by local school children and residents.

Store entrances beautifully decorated along the “Street Gallery”.

The festival’s “Street Gallery” is like a trade fair where you can enjoy up close, the skills and variety of methods that have gone into dyeing the fabrics.
There are over one-hundred exhibited Noren. Many of them are original pieces, created especially for this event through consultations between the artists and shop owners.
Special offers may be available at each shop during the festival.

An original Noren.

An A4 sized tag hangs on the side of each original Noren with the name of the work and artist. These Noren, with a price written on the reverse side of their tag, are available for purchase.

These visitors of Japan take the Katazome challenge!
These visitors of Japan take the Katazome challenge!

The dates for 2017’s, “Some no Komichi”.

Preparations are steadily being made by the event organizing committee for 2017’s festival, which will be held over three days: February 24th, 25th, and 26th (Fri-Sun).
Outside of “Some no Komichi”, various shops hold their own events, and these are also well worth looking out for.
“Some no Komichi” is a beautiful annual festival that can’t be missed. This February, try dressing up in a kimono and taking a stroll around Nakai, a town immersed in the world of fabric dyeing. You’re sure to make some very special memories.

Local people also try their hand at some fabric dyeing.

Some no Komichi

  • Address:Kamiochiai, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
  • Getting there:Nakai Station, Toei Oedo Line
    Nakai Station, Seibu Shinjuku Line (西武新宿線 中井駅)
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I have experience studying abroad in Germany and traveled 17 countries before. Love Korean food, Love Astronaut, Love Croatia. I will send everyone exciting information of Japan! Enjoy it!