Modern “WA (侘)” in Yuzen Kimono


Photo Credit: Yuki Yamamoto,   Yuzen  Artist  Yuki Yamamoto  at  his studio

Photo Credit: Yuki Yamamoto,  Yuzen Artist Yuki Yamamoto at his studio

1. What or how did you get started in making YUZEN art?
I always liked painting and drawing since I was child. My family had own tailor shop and my grandmother was wishing me to be a kimono artist. After high school, I entered to train my father’s tailor shop. After more than 10 years of training, I had started my own business that continued to motivate my passion to where I am now with 40 plus years career as a Yuzen artist.

2. What is the biggest the challenge of your work?
Unlike modern kimono artist training, my teacher never taught how to draw or what I suppose to do. I felt that I was trying to to steal my teacher’s skill over the shoulder. I assumed that self-taught under the master was the best way to learn at that time. These days, it isn't possible to train like that.

3. What was the most exclusive design you have ever made?
When I was 30 years old, I painted the classic old fairy tale “The Tale of Genji” series. Recently, I accomplished collaboration between classic and modern style to one of my clients “Tenpuno Tsubasa” which took 6 months to finish.

Photo Credit: Yuki Yamamoto, Yuzen Design 'Tenpuno Tsubasa'

Photo Credit: Yuki Yamamoto, Yuzen Design 'Tenpuno Tsubasa'

4. How does involve the rice in your art work?
It is very important ingredient in coloring process to protect / support the draft lines. 

5. Do you use specific rice and do you make own rice paste?
Sweet rice, rice bran and rice powder have been used for a paste mix. Traditionally, artists made their own paste, however it is available to buy pre-made the paste these days. It always requires adjustment with salt depending upon weather, fabric type. 

6. Is silk fabric the only one that uses rice paste technique?
Yes, Yuzen is only used on silk fabric.

Photo Credit: Yuki Yamamoto,  Rice paste has been a main  ingredient in Yuzen process

Photo Credit: Yuki Yamamoto, Rice paste has been a main ingredient in Yuzen process

7. If someone wants to be a YUZEN artist, how they can start? Is there school?
There are local community or 2 year college program, but if someone really considers to be an artist, they should proceed to be trained by a master artist. Unlike years ago, Yuzen master artist have less interns and less chance to pass their skills. Gender interest shows more females as their hobby. Back to years ago, males occupied the tradition more than females as their main profession, but it gains more attention to female as their hobby sine WW2.

8. What is your message for next generation who want to be a YUZEN artist?
There are about 100 Yuzen artists in Japan. I think my Yuzen style will end in my time, so I don't believe I will be able to pass my style to the next generation. However, I could pass an inspiration, creativity, motivation for sure. 

9. What is your message to New Yorkers?
As seen my recent work “Tenpuno Tsubasa”, I want New Yorkers to see modern “WA (侘)” through my Yuzen style. Also, looking for the connection to communicate between artists and consumers. I believe encouraging connection will continue with the next generation of Yuzen art.

Photo Credit: Yuki Yamamoto

Photo Credit: Yuki Yamamoto

Mr. Yamamoto’s dedication of the traditional Japanese delicate techniques "Yuzen" express and designs ultimate drawing in his art works. He try to connect between traditional and modern lifestyles with Yuzen Art.


Yuzen-dyeing Kimono: technique

The Yuzen dyeing technique begins by outlining a drawn pattern on the Kimono fabric with a mixture of rice paste containing glutinous rice powder, rice bran and lime. The dried rice paste mixture, called a paste resist, provides a barrier  to prevent the brushed on dye from seeping into other parts of the fabric.   After the paste resist dries the fabric is painted with a brush using the desired dye colors. When the paint is dry, the fabric is smoothed with steam in order to adjust the length and width, and to remove the rice paste.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Developed at the end of the 17th century, this technique  of handcrafting Kimono patterns is still the most prestigious in Japanese textile culture. The process is very expensive.  In order to make Yuzen Kimonos more widely available, labor-saving costs were necessary. Today the techniques have been modified and developed to adapt to western technology in order to mass produce the Kimonos affordably. Yuzen-dyed Kimonos are the most popular in Japan.