Ūji-zome is the collective term for dyed and woven fabric products that showcase the rustic and comforting allure of ūji (sugarcane in Okinawa language), expressed in gentle shades of color. Ūji-zome is primarily carried out in two different ways – “sakizome”, where threads are first dyed before weaving, and “atozome”, where dye is directly applied onto woven fabric. Ūji dye is made with the leaves and panicles of sugarcane, and its color gradation varies depending on the length of dyeing time and the season of the year that sugarcane leaves are harvested for the production of dye. In addition to verdant and chartreuse shades of green, gentle pink hues are the hallmark of “kasui-zome”, a form of ūji-zome using flowering spikes of sugarcane that bloom from mid-December to February.
Ūji-zome evolved as part of a community revitalization project that began in 1989. Today, dyed products enjoy special stature as local specialties of Tomigusuku City, and the craft is expected to further contribute to regional revitalization in the future.
|(Dyeing) Hemp, silk, cotton; (Textile) Cotton thread, silk thread, hemp thread
|Place of manufacture
|"Noren" (Japanese entryway curtains), neckties, bags and pouches etc.
|Partnership name and date of establishment
|Tomigusuku City Ūji-zome Business Cooperative Association, September 6th, 1994
|*Source: "An Outline of Promotion Strategies for the Craft Industry"; official website of Tomigusuku City Ūji-zome Business Cooperative Association (http://www.u-jizome.jp)
Tomigusuku City has served as the center of production for ūji-zome since the inception of the craft in 1989. In 1993, ūji-zome was registered as a commercial trademark before the Tomigusuku Village Ūji-zome Cooperative Association was established a year later in 1994. In 2002, the organization changed its name to Tomigusuku City Ūji-zome Cooperative Association when the municipal status of Tomigusuku Village was raised to that of a city. In 2005, a new dyeing technique termed “kasui-zome” was developed using sugarcane flowers to render fabric in soft hues of pink, and its trademark registration was approved three years later in 2008. The city of Tomigusuku continues to promote ūji-zome by undertaking new product development and training of new craftspeople. In 2013, the Tomigusuku City Ūji-zome Business Cooperative Association moved to its current premises in “Tiguma-kan,” a tourist and retail plaza located within the city that exhibits and stocks a wide range of ūji-zome products while offering experiential workshops in the art of ūji-zome. At present, items such as scarves, kariyushi wear, and bags can be purchased through the cooperative’s online store and various exhibition sales.