CIB invitation to Meet the Maker!!
Kamawanu Creative Director Kazuhiro Kato
Kamawanu, located in Shibuya, Tokyo started to revive the traditional craft of Tenugui manufacturing in the 1990's.
Tenugui is a tool for our everyday to use as you wish, fashion, wrapping, kitchen cloth, interior or personal use.
In May 2022, CIBI Creative Director, Zenta Tanaka returned to Tokyo following a two and half year absence. CIBI's visit to Kamawanu, Tokyo Headquarters.
Kazuhiro Kato, Kamawanu Creative Director sits down with Zenta to discuss the creative process, manufacturing, collaboration and joy sharing beyond Japanese shores, with Melbourne community.
Q 1 Why do you think Kamawanu Tenugui is loved beyond the shores of Japan, in places like Australia? What makes it so unique?
A 1 I believe that Kamawanu is loved around the world for two reasons. The first reason is that each person who has Kamawanu tenugui can use it in any way they like. There are no rules on how to use them, we want people to use them freely in their own way, and the wide range of uses is the charm of tenugui.
The second reason is Kamawanu's original textiles. Kamawanu always offers both traditional patterns and patterns that fit in with modern life. There are a variety of patterns such as natural motifs, a part of daily life or seasonal ones, and there is always a pattern that matches someone's favourite. I think that is why they are loved by a wide range of people, generations, races and nationalities.
Q 2 Both CIBI & Kamawanu look back into Japan’s cultural past to share Japanese design with today’s customers. Why do you think tenugui is suited to a contemporary lifestyle?
A 2 We regard tenugui as an everyday tool. That is why at Kamawanu we always try to suggest many ways to use them. We believe that communication with our customers through tenugui is a pleasure unique to modern lifestyles, as they can enjoy using the tenugui as a tool, enjoying its deterioration over time and changing its use as their lifestyles change.
Q 3 Where does Kamawanu source raw materials like cotton and dyes used in the manufacturing of the CIBI designed tenugui? Are there environmental concerns that inform the sourcing of these raw materials?
A 3 In this topic, we talk about environmental considerations in the dyeing factory, which is one of the most important processes in the production of Kamawanu tenugui.
In the dyeing factory, we dye our tenuguis by hand through a hand-dyeing process called 'chusen'. Chusen means to dye clothes by pouring ink into the part we want to dye.
As many processes use a lot of water, the factory has a large water pool in the basement. The large pool is a wastewater treatment facility, where wastewater is cleaned several times and treated as sewage according to the local wastewater standards where each factory is located. In addition, dyeing operations are carried out on light-coloured products first to ensure that water can be used without waste. This is because if dark colours are worked on first, the water becomes dirty and the colour will show on the dyed products afterwards.
Q 4 What do you like about working with CIBI?
A 4 As mentioned in Q2, we, Kamawanu, consider tenugui as 'everyday tools'.
At CIBI, the staff actually wear and use our tenugui, which makes us happy. We also share the same concept between Kamawanu and CIBI in that we think about what we can deliver to our customers, so it's fun to think together about what we should do next.
Q 5 What is the timeframe of sourcing, designing, manufacturing and offering the tenugui for sale?
A 5 Normally, it takes two months from pattern making to delivery. The pattern making is a particularly delicate process by the engraver, so it takes about one month to complete.
Q 6 The word tradition carries with it knowledge, craftsmanship and expertise, how are these qualities maintained across generations of Kamawanu manufacturing?
A 6 In order to accommodate younger generations and females, the dyeing factories have improved their facilities, including the installation of women's toilets in the factory.
In addition, although the work of dyeing artisans used to be divided into small departments, we have introduced a rotation system so that all the workers can do all jobs and then choose the one they are good at and master it.
Q 7 What message would you like to share with Australian CIBI customer?
A 7 Hello! Thank you very much for purchasing our Kamawanu Tenugui from CIBI. We make our designs with a hope that you will use them in your daily life. I hope you can find your precious one(pattern) and it lifts your daily life up.
Thank you for purchasing our tenugu from CIBI! Enjoy your Tenugui Life! Bye!
Q 8 What are the challenges / difficulties in creating beautiful Kamawanu Tenugui?
A 8 In the hand-dyeing process, artisans adjust all tools according to the season and weather conditions. The most rewarding moment is when the adjustments are exactly right and the finished product is exactly what they had expected.
Q 9 How many artisans are involved in the process of making?
A 9 There are about 12 factories, with the largest factory employing 15 artisan and the smallest one employing about five.
Q 10 What is the history behind the different patterns and colours how are they designed?
A 9 When deciding on designs for a new season, representatives from our retail staff, sales staff and designers get together to decide.
We have a brainstorming meeting to come up with ideas, mainly based on customer feedback and designs that have never existed before. Recently, we made decisions through user surveys on social networking sites.
We have about 500 patterns a year, with 10-20% of the designs being changed each season.