11/01/2015

shitateya tailor

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. shokunin 職人 craftsman, craftsmen, artisan, Handwerker .
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shitateya 仕立屋 / 仕立て屋 tailor, seamstress

Since many men where living alone in Edo, they had their robes made by tailors, who were also mostly men. Tailors started working after receiving an order from a client. First they had to get the cloth.

The womenfolk had to make the robes for the whole family themselves, working at home in the evening.
Some women worked as seamstress for the rich ladies.

Samurai families employed omonoshi 御物師 for their special robes.
Temples often called the tailor shinmyoo 針妙 Shinmyo.
The character 妙 is a combination of 少女 young woman in the secret language of priests, who were not allowed to have women in the monasteries.

gofukuya 呉服屋 draper's stores (Kimono shops) which sold the material to make new robes also offered a service to sew them.


source : cleanup.jp/life/edo

futomonodana 太物(ふともの)店 sold "thick robes" made from cotton 木綿, in contrast to the Gofukuya, who often sold silk material 絹.
kiwataya 木綿店 cotton cloth dealers

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gofukuchoo 呉服町 Gofukucho, district of the Kimono shops
It was the estate of the dealer Gotoo Nuinosuke 後藤縫之助 / 後藤縫殿助 Goto Nuinosuke, who was allowed to supply the Edo castle, especially all the ladies living there, with new robes.
His nickname was 呉服後藤 Gofuku Goto, because there was another person doing tatoos, 彫物後藤 Horimono Goto, living in the Ginza, 金座後藤庄三郎.
There were also stores of Sake wholesalers in the district.


The bridge over the Sotobori canal, Gofukubashi 呉服橋.
Another bridge nearby was 一石橋 Ichigokubashi.


歌川芳藤 Utagawa Yoshifuji (1828 - 1887)

- - - - - Then and now in 1916 - - - - -



吉良上野介 Kira Kozukenosuke originally lived near Gofukubashi near Edo castle.

- quote -
Site of the North Magistrate's Office
The office of the North Magistrate was located inside the Gofukubashi Gate from 1806 to the end of the Edo period (1867).
This is near what is now the Nihonbashi Exit of Tokyo Station, southwest of the Gofukubashi crossing.
- source : syougai.metro.tokyo.jp/bunkazai -



Gofukubashi Mitsuke Mon 呉服橋見附門 Gofukubashi Mitsuke Gate

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furugiya 古着屋 dealers in old robes would wash and clean them and sew them together for new merchandise. This was a full-blown recycle business in Edo. Nothing was wasted.
shitate-naoshi 仕立て直し re-making robes was very important.

. furugi 古着 old robes - Introduction .



kogire-kake 古裂れ掛け contraption to hang pieces of washed old cloth.

kogire 古裂れ old pieces of cloth, size did not matter, small pieces were also available.
kamawanu -構わぬ never mind (the size), became kamawanu 鎌わぬ.
kogireya 古裂れ屋 / 端切れ屋 dealer in old pieces of cloth, ready to be re-sewn.

tsugihagi, tsugi-hagi 継ぎ接ぎ patching and darning was also popular.

Old robes of grown-ups were also re-sewn for children. When they became worn, they could be made into diapers for the next baby. (Old diapers became cleaning cloths in the kitchen and after that could be used to start a fire - the final end of a piece of cloth. The ashes from the kitchen fire were then used as fertilizer in the fields.
Recycle and re-use were the norm in Edo.


Some robes were made entirely new, others were only repaired or re-done.
Special robes and Happi coats had to be made for festivals.

In the pleasure quarters, mitsubuton 三つ布団 special three-layered Futon sitting cushions for the honorable visitors were also made by the Shitateya. Since these cushions were rather large and his working room usually quite small, he had to be skilfull to do the job properly. But it payed well of course.

Townspeople who could not afford to make new robes for the New Year would at least make some new ones for the Hanami Cherry blossom viewing party.
The bi-annual "changing of the robes" from summer to winter wear was also a chance to make some new ones. Others would just sew another layer to the summer robes and take it off in spring.

. Kimono 着物  traditional Japanese robes .

. hari 針 sewing needles and rituals .

Needlework was done in the seiza 正座 kneeling position, with a pin and needle cushion, hariyama 針山 "needle mountain" (harisashi 針刺し) nearby.



While the hands were busy working, the knees (and feet and toes, if the tailor sat cross-legged) could be used to hold the cloth. Most parts were simply sewed together in straight lines for a Japanese robe.




Yukawa Shoodoo 湯川松堂 Yukawa Shodo (1868 - 1955)

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- quote -
Traditional Japanese Room, Tailor Workshop

This is a tailor’s workshop from the beginning of the Taisho Period (1912–1926).



On the left we can see the shelves with materials and a very old sewing machine. To the right, there is a living room with a still unfinished kimono.
At the time, the workshop was also the master's house, where he lived together with his apprentices, working and teaching them the craftsmanship.
- source : muza-chan.net -


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- quote -
My job is sewing kimono.

Tailoring the kimono is called 'wasai'  和裁 Japanese dressmaking.



An excellent kimono can't be sewn by sewing machine , it must all be hand-sewn . If one wants to put on a kimono for a long time , it is better for the kimono not to be made on a sewing machine . Kimono is made of a flat pattern clothing-construction . If the thresd is pulled on the kimono , it returns to it's former square cloth shape . 'Wasai' sews straight except for the neck line of kimono and the collar of the coat for kimono. Paper patterns are not used for sewing kimono except for the collar of the coat for kimono. Kimono can be tailored more freely than dresses . If the kimono is of good quality and is treated with care, it may be able to be worn over three generations .
- source : kimono-akinai.com -


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Japanese Bookbinding - Dana Gee
- snip -
The word shitateya was generally used for a person who finished off sewing jobs and the word shitate was sometimes used for the final stages of production of books including covers and sewing.
. seihonshi 製本師 bookbinder - Buchbinder .




Edo Craftsmen: Master Artisans of Old Tokyo
Thomas F. Judge (Author), Tomita Hiroyuki (Photographer)
- at amazon and google books


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- - - - - H A I K U and S E N R Y U - - - - -

仕立屋と宮師の裏の小夜時雨
shitateya to miyashi no ura no sayo shigure

night drizzle
at the back of the shrine carpenter (home)
and the tailor (home)


攝津幸彦 Settsu Yukihiko (1947 - 1996)

. WKD : sayo shigure 小夜時雨 night drizzle .
- - kigo for early Winter - -

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針妙をお針と云いて叱られる
shinmyoo o o-hari to itte shikarareru

to scold a tailor
at the temple he is called
"Mister Needle"


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クロッカス老仕立屋の鼻めがね
高砂子三知代

仕立屋と針千本の呑みくらべ
仁平勝

仕立屋の針子に届く千歳飴
西村三穂子

心ひかるる仕立屋の冬灯
西村和子

梅雨に入る仕立屋の灯は低きまま
香西照雄

立版古仕立屋銀次孤独なり
久米三汀

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. shokunin 職人 craftsmen, artisan, Handwerker .

. Japanese Architecture - Interior Design - The Japanese Home .

. Famous Places and Powerspots of Edo 江戸の名所 .

. - Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

. senryu, senryū 川柳 Senryu poems in Edo .

. densetsu 伝説 Japanese Legends - Introduction .


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