interview 01

” I love seeing what great things will come when we change things up a little bit.”
Ihara Senkou, Ltd. 3rd generation, Mr. Kiyoshi Toriumi (founded in 1936 / Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City)
While printing technology has advanced over the past few decades, Ihara Senkou, Ltd. Still uses a primitive method of applying dye-mixed glue to the dyeing pattern and dropped onto the squeegee. In the preparation room, there are piles of test printed color window cloths, and in the back workshop, mold plates are stored all over the wall. From there, the layers of history and their work that have been accumulated can be seen without asking their stories. In such situation, surprisingly, Mr. Kiyoshi Toriumi, the 3rd generation of the company has been trying something that can’t be done by their own hand-dyeing method. We interviewed Mr. Toriumi about his vision through dyeing.
About the Dyeing
Our challenges
I have been in this industry for more than 50 years now and have been squeezed and trained by many people. In the beginning, we only worked with wholesalers. We were making kimonos, furoshiki (wrapping cloths), and accessories by responding to the orders from wholesalers. I would say that we were like the frog in the well, but now we are stepping out and challenging ourselves, and doing things with a sense of “how about this or that? ” We have data of thousands of colors based on many years of experience, and while understanding the trends of each era, we try to maintain the traditions of Kyo-yuzen dyeing and create products that match the desires of the younger generation. Glasses artisans also share the same principle of making products that suit to the era. I don’t know how things will develop, but I want to contribute in some way.

Sabae and Kyoto
Division of labor and craftsmanship rooted in the community
The quality of the glasses has been improved by the addition of many craftsmen’s skills through the division of labor combining of a tradition rooted in the local community, and dyeing is the same way, it ultimately depends on human ability. It’s very similar to eyeglass making, as it’s done by hand with little or no help of machine. After all, it’s better to think and make things on your own, and such people are smart. I always think that there is a difference between smart people and people who make good scores at school. Dyeing is also made by division of labor. We make screen molds, dye, steam, wash and organize, we rotate this process in Kyoto from place to place. For example, if it’s furoshiki, they can be brough to the sewing machine shop, like we go everywhere. It’s been tough lately because of Covid-19, and there are more and more businesses are closing. I tell myself what I should do when there is nothing more I can do.
About Tradition
To keep going
I have never thought about what tradition is, but I think it’s to keep going and carry on. That tradition means to me. I’m just an old person who doesn’t know any better.
About Inheritance
Talent Development Issues
I think it was about 40 years ago, there were 3 kids who came from junior high school, and now they are over 50 years old. I consider about talent development, but I’m wondering how this is going to work and how the work will continue.
Things that are not negotiable
Things that are not negotiable are to create a dye with a touch of pleasant. The same color can be deep or light, with charm. The tenugui (Japanese cotton towel) that we made this time was also made with pigments, but it will come out differently. More you use, more you will know the difference. It’s interesting that even things that we don’t like, there are people who say that they like them, people are different so that it’s interesting.
New approach
I want to try something new which can’t be done with hand-dyeing
We would like to make a slight change from what we have been doing in the past, such as Kimono for example. I want to make the traditional Japanese Edo-Komon pattern very fine and work on it using so-called machines, which can’t be done with hand-dyeing. We have just started to work on it to see if we can come up with something interesting. Because doing the same thing can be boring. I think that this is a great idea, but I don’t know what the best use, for wallpaper or new building materials, etc. I am not sure what will come next. I hope to please people with wondaful things that we can create.