The story of Kijoka Bashofu


Bashofu weaving begins with the cultivation of the banana fiber plants. There are three varieties of plantain grown in Okinawa,

1. mi-basho which is fruit bearing,
2. hana-basho, flower bearing, and
3. ito-basho which produces only the fiber.

When the plants reach maturity after 2 years, the stalks are cut and long strips are peeled layer by layer. The layers directry under the bark consist of thick fibers suitable for cushion covers while the layers near the core are finer and used for kimono material. Each strip is shredded into ribbons about an inch wide, boiled in a wood ash solution, scraped while wet with bamboo tongs, then dried. The thread preparation involves the separating of the fibers in each strip with fingernails and tying them together by hand. The tiny knots produce an interesting texture in the finished cloth. After hand spinning, the threads are ready to be wovenn or dyed.


When a kasuri (ikat) pattern is determined, the threads to be dye resisted are tightly bound at measured intervals before weaving. After repeated dyeing, steaming and outdoor dying, the threads are untied and the bound sections retain the natural color. The warp and weft threads are set in position on the loom according to the design and the pattern emerges.


After the completed roll is softened in boiling wood ash solution, it is soaked in a   fermented mixture of rice powder and gruel, stretched and dried. Then it is given an even texture and fine luster by hand rubbing with an inverted teacup. The entire process, from harvesting the basho plan to finished cloth, takes approximately 3 to 6 months.