Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Japan's textile-makers combine tradition with technology

A craftsman spreads his fabric out to dry
A craftsman spreads his fabric out to dry

Mother-of-pearl, wisteria and a deceptively blue butterfly from South America are part of a strategy to woo high-end fashion designers to discover the potential of Japanese textiles.

Japan's textile-makers combine tradition with technology

PARIS, France | Posted on February 10th, 2008

A handful of highly specialised manufacturers and artisan weavers from Tango, in the region of Japan's ancient capital Kyoto, were in Paris last week to showcase their innovations, combining centuries-old tradition with the latest in nanotechnology.

Tango has long been famous for textiles because its wet climate favours the production of silk, particularly the crepe called "chirimen" used in kimonos. But technological advances are spurring the creation of new products with potential appeal outside Japan.

Initially it was the automaker Nissan which took an interest in the Morpho butterfly, which inhabits an area along the River Amazon. Its shiny cobalt blue colour in fact contains no blue pigment but is produced by the way it refracts light.

Nissan and Teijin Fibres initially explored the possibility of mimicking the butterfly's properties for a new kind of paint for cars but instead came up with a glossy material, Morphotex.

Without dyes or pigments, it creates the illusion of colour under light from the structure of its fibres. Using nanotechnology to control the thickness of the fibres, the fabric shows variations on red, green, blue and purple.

Toyota Tsusho, the textile arm of another car manufacturer, has also harnessed nanotechnology to develop a technique of weaving gold and silver threads into luxury denim, which it believes could find a future in haute couture.

New techniques are also enabling small-scale craftsmen to innovate and diversify, says Kyoji Tamiya of Tamiya Raden, whose father developed a way of weaving with mother-of-pearl inlays.

Shells are mounted on traditional Japanese paper in exquisite patterns, reminiscent of oriental pottery, which is then shredded to form the weft and woven with silk. From being used for elaborate obis or sashes to tie a kimono, he is branching out to use the precious fabric, which costs upwards of 350 euros a metre (510 dollars a yard) for handbags.

Mitsuyasu Koishihara's father, meanwhile, has revived an ancient technique of making textiles from the branch of the mountain wisteria. Once made all over Japan, it declined with the arrival of cotton and all but disappeared except in the Tango region.

"One day he saw this ama or Japanese sea woman (it is traditionally the women who dive for shells in Japan) and she had a bag made of something he didn't recognise. She said it was wisteria."

He set about rediscovering how to weave from it. Wild wisteria, which looks like raffia, is soft to the touch but twice as strong as linen. Their firm, Yushisha, is the only one specialising in wisteria textile making, which has now been designated a "cultural heritage of Kyoto".

As well as being used for obis, bags and norens, Japanese curtains decorating the entrance of shops, they are hoping their rare fabric will find a niche market in the West.

Other innovations shown in Paris included silks retaining the original stiffness with which the silk pupa protects itself from ultra-violet light, which is normally lost in the manufacturing process, and ultra-soft cottons made to a higher gauge than anywhere else in the world.


Copyright © AFP

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Stiffness matters February 23rd, 2018

Imaging individual flexible DNA 'building blocks' in 3-D: Berkeley Lab researchers generate first images of 129 DNA structures February 22nd, 2018

'Memtransistor' brings world closer to brain-like computing: Combined memristor and transistor can process information and store memory with one device February 22nd, 2018


Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Stiffness matters February 23rd, 2018

Histology in 3-D: New staining method enables Nano-CT imaging of tissue samples February 22nd, 2018

Developing reliable quantum computers February 22nd, 2018


Candy cane supercapacitor could enable fast charging of mobile phones August 17th, 2017

Carbodeon demonstrates NanoDiamond nickel coatings with enhanced tribological properties June 7th, 2017

New ultrafast flexible and transparent memory devices could herald new era of electronics April 1st, 2017

'Back to the Future' inspires solar nanotech-powered clothing November 15th, 2016


European & Korean Project To Demo World’s First 5G Platform During Winter Games February 15th, 2018

Leti’s Chief Scientist Presents Optimistic Vision for Neuromorphic Hardware and Ultra-Low-Power Microdevices for Edge Computing at ISSCC: Leti’s Chief Scientist Presents Optimistic Vision for Neuromorphic Hardware and Ultra-Low-Power Microdevices That Are Based on Novel Emerging February 13th, 2018

Leti Chief Scientist Barbara De Salvo Will Help Kick Off ISSCC 2018 with Opening-Day Keynote: In Addition, Leti Scientists Will Present and Demo New Technology for Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting February 8th, 2018

Leti Presents Optical-Equipment Curving Technology that Improves Performance, Cuts Costs: ‘Disruptive Approach’ for Imaging Applications Presented in Paper At Photonics West and Demonstrated in Leti’s Booth February 2nd, 2018

The latest news from around the world, FREE

  Premium Products
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More

Nanotechnology Now Featured Books


The Hunger Project