Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Creating Textiles: Makers, Methods, Markets. Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Inc. New York, NY, September 23–26, 1998 (Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1999).


Copyright © 1998 by the author(s)



The term meisen generally refers to plain-weave silk cloth patterned with woven (not printed) stripes or kasuri and made into kimono, haori, and nen'neko (literally 'jacket sleeper, " a padded coat worn during the autumn and winter months for carrying babies on the back). In the first half ofthe twentieth century, almost all Japanese women were familiar with meisen- as ordinary, everyday wear for the upper and middle classes and as dress-up kimono for working- class and country women. In the twenty four years between 1913 and 1937, according to the census, 200 million bolts (tan) of meisen kimono cloth was produced.

Meisen originated in the silk and cotton producing centers including Isesaki, Chichibu, Kiryu, Hachioji, and Ashikaga in the Kanto region. The textile makers were very industrious in devising new methods and new effects to capture the market. Around 1907 (Meiji 40), many weaving centers tried to perfect pictorial or print-like ikat (moyo gasuri), which was most effectively executed with printed warp ikat (hogushi gasuri). The tenn hogushi is derived from the verb hogusu, meaning to unravel or to take apart, and it implies the process where a long warp thread (50 meters or more) is sparsely woven with a temporary weft to keep the warp threads in order during the printing. After steam setting of the dye on the warp and before the warp is woven, the temporary weft has to be taken out on the loom-hence the name hogushi.