5-4 : Kata-zome


Kata means pattern and the pattern sheets are made of 'washi' - traditional handmade Japanese paper - coated with astringent persimmon juice. Since washi processed in this way is very strong and waterproof, it was commonly used for umbrellas or wrapping paper before being supplanted by modern synthetic paper or cloth.

Nowadays some dyers are using patterns made from plastic, but at Kosoen they still use the traditional type.

The photo on the right shows how the cloth is dried after the resist has been applied.

Resist for Kata-zome is in paste form (photo on the left).

This very sticky paste is made of glutinous rice powder and rice bran. After these are cooked in water the mixture becomes translucent and would be difficult to see when applied to white cloth, so a few drops of pigment are added.

Long white cloth is spread on a long wide table. On the cloth many crossing lines are drawn as guides for applying the patterns.

The resist work is done by people specializing in this work; here one is applying the paste through a pattern following the guidelines on the fabric. Since the pattern gets sticky after being used around eight times she frequently has to rinse it.

The next photos show the second round of applying the resist. She has to place the pattern in exactly the same position as the first time.


Dyeing can begin only after the paste (resist) has dried completely. To dye such long cloth Kosoen uses a specially-made deep vat (as you can see in this picture). Cloth is dipped in the liquid several times by raising and lowering the bar. The cloth is then completely dried before proceeding to the next step. This process is repeated many times until the cloth is dyed with a deep Ai color.


Here is a close up picture taken after the first dyeing. After the desired deep colour is reached, the resist is washed away in ash lye, and the fabric can then be processed into various products. The top picture on this page shows a few such products.

1. Ito-zome 2. Shibori-zome 3. Ita-jime
4. Kata-zome 5. Tsutsu-gaki 'The dyeing process' top page