The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) today opened its first retail outlet in Kyoto. The city—Japan’s ancient capital, famous the world over—is one of Japan’s most popular destinations for overseas visitors, and offers an attractive mix of Japanese traditional culture and atmosphere. The new outlet is located inside Bic Camera, one of Japan’s best-known electronic goods shops, which is connected directly to JR Kyoto station, allowing visitors to easily stop by and purchase the products as souvenirs.
Kyo kuromon tsukizome is a distinctly Kyoto brand of black dye, designated officially as a traditional craft by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). It is used to dye mourning clothes and formal kimonos worn at events such as wedding parties.
The manufacturer, Banba Senkogyo Co., Ltd., uses only specially-sourced mineral water known as “yanagi no mizu” (“willow water”) in the production process. Willow trees are planted beside the well from which the water is sourced in order to shade it from direct sunlight. The historical figure Sen no Rikyū, an influential master of the Tea Ceremony in sixteenth century Japan, used this water when brewing tea.
The company was founded in 1870. It pumps the “willow water” to the surface from about 100 metres underground and uses it in dyeing. Commented a representative of the company, “We would like people from overseas countries to admire the beauty of this special Japanese black pigment. We hope that through the creation of these products for the Tokyo 2020 Games, overseas visitors will get a feel for the
more traditional and formal types of black Japanese cloth, and gain an understanding of the techniques used in creating this colour.”
The following three products incorporating Kyo kuromon tsukizome dyeing techniques will go on sale from today (all prices exclude 8% consumption tax):
- Tenugui, a traditional thin Japanese hand towel made from cotton and bearing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic emblem (JPY 3,800)
- Small decorative Noren, a traditional Japanese fabric divider hung in doorways and on walls, additionally bearing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Mascot “MIRAITOWA” (JPY 4,500)
- a chopstick case bearing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic emblem (JPY 4,500)
Kyoyuzen is a Kyoto brand of dyeing techniques that have similarly been recognised as traditional crafts by METI. Kyoyuzen products feature various regal colours and date back more than 1,000 years. Books covering the Kyoyuzen silk-dyeing technique and embossed with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic emblem (JPY 4,000) will go on sale from today.
Yarn-dyed Nishijin textiles are produced and sold mainly in the northwest of Kyoto. The Nishijin method has also been designated as a traditional craft; it is characterised by the production of small quantities of a large variety of goods.
A furoshiki, a traditional Japanese fabric used to wrap clothes, gifts and other goods (JPY 18,000) will go on sale in early June bearing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic emblem.
Books (colour: blue and red)
Tokyo 2020 has licensed various kinds of merchandise. These are available for purchase through the Tokyo 2020 online store by residents of Japan and at a number of retail outlets across Japan. An English language version of the site will be launched in early June giving non-Japanese living in Japan or overseas visitors to the country details of the official Tokyo 2020 merchandise and a list of outlets across Japan.
Since the launch of the new category—the “Traditional Craft Collection”—this March, eight products featuring four brands have gone on sale. As of today, 21 products featuring the traditional crafts of seven prefectures’ traditional crafts have been introduced. The aim is to provide high quality products which showcase Japanese tradition, techniques and culture across Japan and the world, and which feature Tokyo 2020 emblems. The selected products are required to either be designated by METI, nominated by local prefectural authorities, or to have adopted key traditional techniques or aspects of Japanese culture in their production.