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Traditional kimono making, Okinawa. Source: YouTube Screenshot / Great Big Story.

The Kimono World’s Dirty Little Secret (Video)

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Amidst the tranquil landscapes of Amami Ōshima, an island near Okinawa, Japan, an ancient tradition thrives—one that transforms mud and aged tree trunks into exquisite kimonos, each bearing the mark of time and nature's touch. The origins of this craft harken back to a chapter of resilience and ingenuity. In the 1700s, when Japan's ruling class demanded the surrender of silk kimonos, the people of Amami Ōshima concealed their treasures in the island's mud.

What emerged from this act of defiance was more than a secret—it was a revelation. The mud, in its intimate dance with the silk, gave birth to a stunning black hue, a color that would become synonymous with the island's enduring legacy. Guided by this history, artisans on Amami Ōshima continue to practice this meticulous technique. The mud and the tree trunks, once humble elements, now shape garments of unparalleled grace. The kimonos produced are of such a high quality they can last for up to three generations.

Top image: Traditional kimono making, Okinawa. Source: YouTube Screenshot / Great Big Story.

By Robbie Mitchell

 
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Robbie

I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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