History of Ise Katagami

Origins of Katagami

Various theories abound, including legendary tales from the Heian and Muromachi Periods.

There are several legends about the origins of katagami. Stories say it was created by a man named Magoshichi during the Nara Period or that a priest of the Koyasu Kannon was inspired by seeing leaves eaten through by insects. Legend states that stencil merchants existed during the Heian Period, and it’s theorized that the craft was passed down from stencil makers who escaped from Kyoto during the Onin War. Many tales surround the origins of katagami, but it is unclear which stories are true. However, as the Shiroko area did not originally have dyed paper or stenciling industries, it’s commonly believed that it originated from relationships with other regions such as ties with Kyoto or propagation from the Kishu-han.

Development through the Edo Period

Large developments under the protection of the Kishu Domain, development of komon crests.

Upon entering the Edo Period, Shiroko fell under the jurisdiction of the Kishu-han. Under their protection, Ise Katagami was further developed, and during this time stenciling was used to decorate the ceremonial robes of samurai, thus the crests became more and more detailed. Development was fostered by cooperation between both stencil makers and dye shops, and purveyors of these services formed guilds. Under the protection of the Kishu Domain, manufacturers of these products were able to sell katagami in many regions of Japan, and Ise Katagami spread throughout the country.

Through the Meiji Period and beyond

Dissolution of merchant guilds, times of prosperity, and the effects of war.

During the Meiji Period, the guilds that had been formed during the Edo Period were dissolved. Along with the trends of modernization, the culture of clothing was continually changing. However, as a result of the Pacific War, there was a large decrease of workers in the katagami industry.

After the war, as domestic reconstruction progressed, the demand for kimono fabric was on the rise. The katagami industry boomed and reached its peak around the 1960s. With the spread of modern technology, the need for stencil patterns greatly decreased.

Katagami in Present Day

Separation from kimono culture, aiming to preserve traditional techniques.

In present day, there is a lower demand for kimono. Also, new technology for dyeing techniques caused demand for katagami to fall, resulting in only a small number of workers left in the industry. However, a preservation society was formed in order to pass down the techniques of the designated traditional handicraft, Ise Katagami.

New methods are continually being sought to utilize Ise Katagami such as applying it to lighting fixtures, using it for architectural fittings, and more.

Japanese Calendar Western Calendar Remarks
Suiko 15 AD607 Many of the dyed and woven artifacts of Hyoruji Temple were around 100 years old at this time.
Taiho 1 701 Ceremonial dress, court dress, and uniforms were decreed. Nuidono-ryo (clothing bureau) established. Nuibe-no-tsukasa (weavers), naisenshi-no-tsukasa (dyers) appointed.
(under the Taiho Code)
Wado 4 711 Momomon-no-tsukasa appointed to 21 countries including Ise. Nishikori weaving technology expanded.
Tenpyo 20 748 Said to be the establishment of Koyasu Kannon on Mt. Shiroko.
Tenpyo-Kanpo 4 752 Weaved and dyed artifacts in the Shosoin treasure house are said to be primarily from this period.
Katagami used as the paper for “Tomikyu-e.”
Enryaku 13 794 Kyozome techniques thought to have started around this time.
Enryaku 18 799 Four katagami craftsmen located in Ise-Shiroko around this time. (per the Stencil Sales Calendar Notebook)
Jotoku 1 1079 Around 20 dye-stencil and katagami merchants in Ise-Shiroko.
Showa 1 1312 Around 50 katagami merchants in Ise-Shiroko.
Around Bunsho 2 1467 According to Professor Shiro Tanaka, it is presumed that katagami dyeing techniques were introduced from the Kyoto area around this time.
Tensho 6 1578 Uesugi Shrine acquires short-sleeved kimono and delicate komon-patterned light kimono owned by Uesugi Kenshin/Kagekatsu.
Tensho 18 1590 Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s “Tsujigahana” robes were made around this time.
Bunroku 4 1595 127 katagami workers from Jike and Shiroko petition Mitsuyoshi Bunbu, the current head of Anki-gun’s Ueno castle,
for protection.
Keicho 8 1603 Nikko Tosho-gu acquires a “small floral printed robe” owned by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Genna 5 1619 Shiroko-jike Village is proclaimed domain of Kii, the first lord of the Kishu-han.
(The Kishu Domain protects and promotes the industry of Shiroko Katagami)
Genna 6 1620 Paper folding screen (Pictures of People of Various Occupations in Their Workshops) drawn by Yoshinobu Kano.
Genna 7 1621 Two years after Yorinobu Tokugawa (first head of the Kishu-han) comes to power, katagami merchants
apply to conduct privileged business.
Genna 8 1622 “Preferential stamps” and “Shipping records” are subscribed. Business is conducted using these.
(Katagami remaining from this time, show that yarn insertion techniques were already
being implemented.
Kan’ei 11 1634 A palace for the Kishu Tokugawa family was built in Shiroko, and a magistrate was installed. At the same time, Ise merchants from Matsuzaka/Tsu advanced to Edo. With this, Shiroko barges also became prosperous.
Tenna 3 1683 Order for the prohibition of luxury goods, stencil dyeing becomes prevalent.
Genroku 2 1689 Among the existing old katagami, robust ones secured with the “persimmon tannin method” are
Genroku 5 1692 Four katagami craftsmen are recorded in the Ejima Village
Genroku 11 1698 Yuzen dyeing methods become prevalent.
Kyoho 1 1716 Kyoho reform, Kishu Ejima Village becomes Tenryu Domain (under Hatamoto, Ogasawara).
Horeki 3 1753 A guild of 138 katagami craftsmen is officially recognized, and licenses are
subscripted. Breakdown: Main branch, Jike Village Katagami Guild 90 members, Shiroko Village Katagami Guild
37 members. Sub-branch Ejima Village Katagami Guild 11 members. In order to reinforce “preferential stamps” and “shipping records”, a “passage stamp” system was created.
The heads of both Jike and Shiroko Villages regulate the guild. Village laws are created, and compliance
is constrained.
Horeki 4 1754 Refusal of fixed wages incident occurs. The katagami guild members submit a manifest of complaint. “Passage stamps” are reformed.
Horeki 9 1759 “Year of the Rabbit, small tools price reduction” association fixes prices for stencil molds.
Meiwa 1 1764 Restricted last names and swords permitted for katagami guild members when traveling.
Meiwa 5 1768 Iekura Terao records the Stencil Sales Calendar Notebook.
Kansei 1 1789 Ejima Village Stencil Merchants joins the merchant guild system of both villages as a sub-branch.
Kansei 2 1790 In order to achieve the Kansei reform, production of katagami, considered to be domestic product of the Kishu Domain, was encouraged as a financial supplement
in both Jike and Shiroko Villages.
Kansei 9 1797 At the general assembly of the katagami merchant guild, issues regarding stencil creators were discussed and guild members from both Jike and Shiroko Villages decided not to order stencils from
stencil manufacturers who were not from either village.
Bunsei 6 1823 Twelves migrant workers were permitted to go to the large consumer region of Edo. There are 185 katagami merchants in Jike
and 23 in Shiroko for a total of 208.
Bunsei 9 1826 “Artisan Bidding Book” defines regulations of stencil engraving artisans. (Merchant guild
is organized.) There were 184 katagami merchants in Jike
and 23 in Shiroko, as well as a handful in Ejima Village. The migrant workers in Edo are incorporated in,
and commerce badges are issued again from the Kishu Domain.
Tenpo 5 1834 The Kishu-han makes adjustment to the katagami guilds in both villages. Currently 150 shops. Tenpo revolution.
Tenpo 3 1841 The Tenpo Revoluation begins. As the shogunate banned wholesalers, Shiroko’s port industry declines.
Kaei 5 1852 “New Passage Stamps” and “Relative Employment Books” are issued. Payment of relative wages is
clearly stated. Rules of the Shiroko magistrate office and the guilds of both villages are clarified.
Meiji 1 1868 Meiji Restoration
Meiji 2 1869 The Kishu-han carries out system reforms. Shiroko magistrate was changed to Shiroko Bureau of Civil Affairs.
Commerce badges rendered invalid.
Meiji 4 1871 Feudal domains abolished, Shiroko and Jike fall under the jurisdiction of Wakayama Prefecture. Guilds are dissolved within Wakayama,
but activities of the katagami guilds from both villages continue under tacit consent. Flexible-rate business taxes are abolished and become
the “Dyeing and Stenciling Business Tax.”
Meiji 5 1872 Per the “family registry system,” Shiroko has 680 households, Jike has about 40.
Meiji 6 1873 Under the principles of unrestricted operations, guilds are disbanded.
Meiji 8 1875 Around this time, methods of improving persimmon tannin are being researched by Shonosuke Kitamura, etc.
Meiji 10 1877 Around this time, Jihei Kitamura devises the “murogarashi” drying method.
Meiji 13 1880 Around this time, Jihei Kitamura invents the smoke room method
for smoking katagami.
Establishment of stock companies is permitted for the manufacturing and sales of katagami. Guilds are dismantled. As an industry promotional measure with the purpose of joint sales, the company, “Kamado Nigiwai-sha” is established. (disbanded in 1882)
Meiji 14 1881 According to the “Kamado Nigiwai Company Ordinance,” 52 katagami merchants were active in both Shiroko and Jike villages.
Meiji 30 1897 Shiroko Katagami Industry Association is established (The association later becomes the Ise Katagami Cooperative Trade Union consisting of katajigami production, engraving,
regional sales, logistics, and yarn departments)
Meiji 35 1902 40 merchants are recorded in the “Ise Katagami Union Sales Member Record” in both villages.
Shiroko Municipal Polytechnical School (later Shiroko Polytechnical School, a 3-year system night school) established.
In Shiroko, “Zuankenkyu” (a Design Research) club is formed.
Meiji 42 1909 Shiroko Municipal Polytechnical school records list 40 merchants, 198 katagami manufacturers, and 17 katajigami producers.
(The increase may be based on effects of the Russo-Japanese war)
Taisho 10 1921 Dyeing contractor Gihei Inami from Takaoka, Toyama is granted a Katagami fabric stretching device patent. (Prior to this, Jike had 40 katagami manufacturers. This patent relieved the necessity of using two spool thread holders.)
Taisho 12 1923 The union is renamed to “Ise Katagami Trade Union.” Due to the Great Kanto Earthquake, the industry flourished.
Showa 1 1926 A demonstration in opposition to the Prefectural Commercial and Industrial Law, article 9 (prohibition of direct sales and monopoly) was held by engravers. Shiroko Municipal Polytechnical School becomes Shiroko Municipal School.
Showa 2 1927 Between 1927-1928, use of the fabric stretching method quickly spreads through the Suzuka Region.
Showa 3 1928 350 stencil craftsmen, 20 katajigami producers, and 50 merchants were listed in the “Katagami-no-Hanashi” (Talks on Katagami). An increase in numbers from the Meiji Period and a sign of a flourishing industry.
Showa 4 1929 The Ise Katagami Trade Union publishes “The origins and history of Katagami.” (There are 29 katajigami producers, 23 regional sales employees, 29 Tokyo Katagami association members, and 14 stores in Kyoto, as well as a purchasing department in Shiroko.)
Showa 5 1930 Fabric stretching is deregulated. Cost of yarn plummets, worsening global recession.
Showa 10 1935 More than 1000 katagami engravers were in business at this time.
Showa 16 1941 The Pacific War begins. The industry shrinks during the war and dyers change their trade to producing clothing items. The official price of jigami is listed in the Mie Prefectural public report
Showa 17 1942 Suzuka City is Established. Sales of textile/fabric items are restricted.
Showa 21 1946 Ise Some-Katagami Engravers Union is formed. Production is resumed after losing the war. The “Ise Katagami Engravers Union”
and later, the “Ise Katagami Jigami Production Union”, “Japan Chusen Katagami Cooperative Association” and “Ise Katagami Sales Association” are formed. In the future, they will be unified to form the “Ise Katagami Cooperative Association. “
Showa 22 1947 The “Japan Chusen Wazarashi Union” is formed in Osaka. Katagami for their production is handled by Shiroko. Suzuka Municipal Polytechnical School (second-class) is closed after school consolidation following the war. A renewal of interest in dyeing spreads.
Showa 24 1949 Around this time, practical use of screens began in Japan. Difficulties arise such as transaction tax and business tax opposition.
Showa 26 1951 The control on cotton products is released.
Showa 27 1952 According to the “General Survey of Suzuka City”, there are 128 people involved in the katagami industry. Of that, 20 are katajigimi producers. The industry is worth 120 million yen. There are 150 engravers worth 60 million yen. The Cultural Property Protection Committee designates Ise Katagami Engraving as an Intangible Cultural Property. (In March)
Showa 28 1953 Ise Some-Katagami Tax Saving Association established. Around this time, photo screens come to Shiroko.
Showa 30 1955 Yoshimatsu Nanbu, Kikuo Rokutani, Hiroshi Kodama, Yujiro Nakajima, and Mie Jonokuchi are recognized as holders of Intangible Cultural Property Technology. Yasutaka Komiya is certified as a preserver of komon techniques by The Cultural Property Protection Committee. Suzuka City publishes “Some-Katagami-no-hanashi” (Talks on Some-katagami). There are 20 kataji producers, 50 retailers, and 350 engravers. The Ise Some-Katagami Union holds at a necktie exhibition in Tokyo.
Showa 31 1956 Mie Prefectural Training Center is established. The Mie Prefectural Some-Katagami Engraver Labor Union branches off and becomes independent from the Ise Some-Katagami Union.
Showa 32 1957 Japan Chusen Katagami Cooperative Association is established. The Ise Some-Katagami Union holds creative medium-sized exhibitions in Tokyo, Osaka, and Hamamatsu between 1957-1959. The Fabric Stretching Section breaks off from the Ise Some-Katagami Union.
Showa 38 1963 Suzuka City starts a hands-on training program for Ise Katagami. (5-year program) At the same time, data collections begins.
Showa 40 1965 Hideo Nakami studies documents from the Terao family archives. Some of the findings are presented at the Mie Historical Society.
Showa 43 1968 Kyoto National Museum publishes “Some-no-katagami”. (Dyed katagami)
Showa 44 1969 During the Japanese-style bag boom, kimono fabric demand reaches a peak.
Showa 45 1970 “The History of Ise Katagami” edited by Shiro Tanaka, is published.
Showa 48 1973 Synthetic paper appears and becomes prevalent as a replacement to katagami paper. The Ise Katagami Engravers Union publishes “Chokoku.” (Engraving)
Showa 48 1973 (179 Engravers, average age 48.2 years, 46 family workers, 8 trainees)
Showa 49 1974 Traditional Crafts Industry Promotion Law set.
The Mie Prefecture Board of Education publishes, “Urgent Investigative Report of Traditional Folkcrafts with a Focus on Ise Katagami”.
Showa 53 1978 In order to receive designation under the Traditional Crafts Industry Promotion Law, a diagnostic examination of the production area
is commenced. There are 163 union members (per the union report).
Showa 54 1979 Mie Prefecture publishes the “Ise Katagami Industry Production Region Diagnostic Report”.
Showa 57 1982 The Ise Katagami Cooperative Association was established on January 12, 1982 unifying the “Ise Katagami Jigami Production Union” (paper), “Japan Chusen Katagami Cooperative Association” (yukata) and “Ise Katagami Sales Association” (kimono) organizations.
Showa 58 1983 Ise Katagami is designated as a traditional handicraft (tool) by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.
Suzuka Municipal Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts opened.
Heisei 3 1991 “Ise Katagami Preservation Society” formed on November 28th.
Heisei 4 1992 “Ise Katagami Preservation Society” named as an intangible cultural property of Mie Prefecture.
Heisei 5 1993 “Ise Katagami Preservation Society” appointed as an Important Intangible Cultural Property Association. Ise Katagami exhibition (afterwards known as the Ise Katagami Festival) held (until 2009.)
Heisei 9 1997 Ise Katagami Museum opened.
Heisei 10 1998 National Important Intangible Cultural Property Holders Association Conference held in Suzuka City.
Heisei 11 1999 Ise Katagami Cooperative Trade Union abolished.
Heisei 21 2009 “Ise Katagami Production District Council” organized.
Heisei 21 2009 “Ise Katagami” registered as a regional collective trademark.
Heisei 22 2010 Ise Katagami Cooperative Association named as overseers of Suzuka City Municipal Museum of Traditional Arts & Crafts.