Japan: Kyoto

Hello! It’s Emma today and it’s been a while. And I’ve been vvvveeeerrryyyy slow in getting this final Japan post to you – I apologize for the delay!

While Chris and I were staying in Okazaki we took a day trip to Kyoto and I was determined to squeeze some textiles in! After wandering around the amazingly beautiful grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Palace (FYI – if you’re headed to Kyoto to see the actual palace make sure you get on their website beforehand and order tickets. No tickets, No palace. We learned that the hard way). But no palace meant that there was time for the Kyoto Shibori Museum!


Wandering our way to the museum we found ourselves in the coolest shopping district.  Streets with huge coverings that protected us from the rain.  Somewhere in that maze of shops I found a fabric store that had TATTING in the window.  Tatting!  I couldn’t believe it!



And a sewing machine shop with some great vintage classics.


Also in that district we found a wonderful time capsule restaurant that I don’t think had been updated since the 60s or 70s.  The food was awesome and the ambiance fantastic.


On our way to the museum we stumbled upon this wonderful shop called RAAK, a Japanese cloth shop.  390 years in business and being run by the 14th generation of owners.  Totally awesome.  Very inspiring for a family run business like ours.  Check out the two photos below to see what they’re all about.



Tucked away on a little street, Google Maps will lead you right to the front door of the shibori museum.  In traditional Japanese fashion, you remove your shoes in the entry way and walk into a two story textile playground.  The downstairs is a shop and classroom and upstairs is the museum, exhibit, and bigger shop.  You can try on a traditional shibori kimono, watch a great video and absorb all of the shibori goodness.  I can’t quite put into words how amazing the history of shibori in Japan is….  It’s an art that is slowly being lost – what you see here in the pictures below has been done by 70-80 year olds and the gentleman who led us through the museum replied with a very solid “no” when I asked him if younger generations were actively seeking education in the tradition.  My heart breaks to hear that.  What is being displayed at the museum is the result of HIGHLY skilled handwork.  Those little dots are SOOOOOO small and done by hand, one at a time.  I brought a few small pieces home with me if you’d like to see how small they really are.  It’s not until you’re holding it and looking at it real close up that you can really fathom how amazingly skilled these artisans are.



The museum is super interactive.  They have tied shibori and they show you how to “untie” it by pulling it on the bias.  Totally cool.  They let me touch all of the fabrics.  You can try on the kimonos.  See action shots below.


The museum guide told Chris and I that traditional shibori kimonos take a team of about 40 artisans (silk worms, to fabric, to design, to tying, to dyeing, to setting, to untying, to ironing, to sewing) almost a year to complete one kimono.  You can imagine how our world of fast, cheap fashion clashes with the prices that should be on these garments.  As a result, the kimonos are priced to sell as far as I’m concerned and if you want an amazing piece of textile art hanging on your wall I recommend one of these beauties.  🙂

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The below rolls of fabric range in prices from $1000 – $3000 USD and are worth FAR more than that.

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The exhibit that they had displayed when we visited was shibori interpretations of classic works by famous artists.  I had to use the panoramic setting on my phone to capture this whole piece below.  
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Somewhere during our day in Kyoto we found ourselves on a subway.  Being that it was a first time experience for both Chris and I (neither of us had ever been on a subway) we documented the moment.  🙂



So, if you’re in kyoto and intrigued by shibori, I highly recommend the museum!  Visit their website here, like them on Facebook here and you can even buy things in their English shop here.  That’s it for Japan.  For now.  Thanks for going on the photo journey with me!


  1. So cool. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Looks like a FANTASTIC trip. I am sooo jealous. Thought you all might be interested to see that my friend and Penryn native Robin and I won the Umbrella Prints trimmings challenge using some eyelet from YOUR store. I knew exactly where to find it (your store) when we were creating our piece. Thanks for continuing to carry fabric. http://umbrellaprints.blogspot.com/2015/06/and-winners-are.html#comment-form


    • The Tin Thimble Staff says

      That’s fantastic, Hillary! We adore the quilt and are impressed with the detail you put into it. Thank you so much for letting us know; we’ll be sure to brag to everyone we know!

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