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Birodo, or velvet in Japanese, has a unique history in Japan and been incorporated in various aspects of Japanese culture throughout time. First introduced about 500 years ago by European traders, the fabric was of extreme value at the time and was even popular among daimyos, soon becoming the hottest fashion trend. It was not until the 1800’s when Japan began understanding how to produce velvet. Soon after, demand for velvet not only for clothing but also interior decoration expanded both domestically and internationally, stimulating the industry entering the 20th century.
The production of birodo is extremely labor intensive as it requires many steps, some done by hand. The material is woven in a metal rod in order to create loops, then cutting the tops of the loops which are then brushed. The metal rod is woven in by hand. Previous to the Meiji Period, bamboo sticks were used before the use of metal, specifically copper or iron/stainless steel used today, making the task even harder than it is now. Nowadays, the metal rods/wires can now be straightened out and polished after getting bent or scratched from use, eliminating the need to replace these wires.
Velvet was popular as a luxury fabric used for making traditional Japanese-style coats as well as accessories for kimonos. However, given the nature of the production of birodo, the weaving technique has been slowly dying out. In order to protect this traditional art form, producers are now incorporating the textile into products that are more suited towards present day lifestyles.
Traditional Japanese braiding style with multitude of ways to use
A visit to an artisan bamboo craft studio to experience the art firsthand
Dedicated to repairing embroidery and traditional cloth pieces
Great Place for Fabric Shopping at Discounted Prices