Searching all of Japan for handcrafted items that express its heart and soul, our proprietor, KASHIYUKA, presents things that bring a bit of luxury to everyday life. This time she traveled to Yamagata prefecture in the northern Tohoku region, where she came across a gorgeous rug known as Yamagata Dantsu, made with high-quality sheep’s wool, hand woven and dyed in various colors.
I’ve heard it said that one universal characteristic of Japanese crafting is that things for everyday use must be beautiful enough to be displayed every day. The Yamagata Dantsu rug is art for everyday life.
Dantsu rugs are hand-woven, originating from pile rugs made in Persia more than 3,000 years ago.
“Back in 1935, dantsu artisans from China were invited over here to Yamanobe-machi in Yamagata prefecture to establish the Yamagata Dantsu studio. A variety of sheep’s wool that feels especially pleasant on the foot was employed to accommodate the Japanese indoor practice of always taking off one’s shoes” says Mr. Hiroaki Watanabe of “Oriental Carpet”, maker of Yamagata Dantsu for the past 85 years. First I was shown the traditional hand-weaving technique, wherein colored threads are introduced to the warp and individually cut. I entered the studio in the midst of their making the “O-Kazu” pattern, in which cherry blossoms come into full bloom across the surface. The weaving frame is stretched with two simple warp planes, front and back, but seeing how they work together is mind-boggling. As the planes exchange position, the colored threads are woven through in a figure-eight arrangement, tied, and cut so quickly with a hand blade that it’s verifiably “too swift to see”!
It’s really delightful! You hear “rug” and think “flat”. Then you see this, where each petal appears to be bursting forth.