Arimatsu, located in Midori-ku in south east Nagoya, was an old Edo-period (1603-1867) post station town on the Tokaido highway between Kyoto and Tokyo.
Arimatsu's claim to fame are its intricate Arimatsu shibori (tie-dyed fabrics). The technique is used to produce colorful designs for cotton kimonos, yukata, noren, handkerchiefs and table cloths.
As the industry is still carried on to this day, many of the original merchant houses have been preserved. There are a number of shops and shibori museums where visitors can purchase both traditional and more contemporary tie-dyed products as well as try their hand at producing them.
Arimatsu Narumi Shibori Kaikan is a good place to start.
The technique found its way to the Nagoya area when craftsmen from Oita in Kyushu, skilled in the shibori technique were ordered to help in the construction of Nagoya Castle by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and later settled in the area. The most influential figure in the history of Arimatsu's tye-dye industry was Takeda Shokuro, whose memorial can be seen just behind the car park of Arimatsu Narumi Shibori Kaikan.
Arimatsu's colorful festival is held on the first Sunday of October and consists of a street parade with floats and participants in traditional costume celebrating Arimatsu's history as a shibori center and Tokaido post town since 1608. The floats have mechanical dolls (karakuri) riding on top of them - one of which can even write!
If you stroll down the main street of the old quarter there are a number of fine, preserved merchant houses, with Nurigome-style, anti-fire, clay coatings and second-floor latticework windows, including Takeda's house, which are all well-worth a look. The original buildings were destroyed by a fire in 1784 and the houses seen today date from after that year, when the buildings were rebuilt with thick plaster walls and tiled roofs as a defence against fire.
It is also possible to see the impressive festival floats at the Arimatsu Festival Float Museum (Open 10am-4pm; closed Wednesday; Tel: 062 621 3000) and in the other large store houses where they are kept.
The contrast between old and modern Arimatsu could not be more stark and the station area is dominated by a huge Aeon store and a new elevated highway, the contemporary successor to the old Tokaido, is under construction just outside the town.
Access: Arimatsu station on the Meitetsu Honsen Line from Nagoya station.
Buy beautifully crafted, quality Japanese tea sets online
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
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