Chita Momen, nurtured in a 400-year-old history.
The history of Chita momen started in the begining of Edo era (400 years ago), and it is said that its beautiful textiles had spread in Edo (Tokyo today) as the highest grade cotton. From the introduction of Toyoda power looms developed in Meiji era (200 years ago)until the present time, Chita Momen has been moving though the longest history with the weaving looms in Japan. Chita Momen is still keeping on evolving while keeping on applying various techniques and weaving methods cultivated in their long history.
- Sign of origin
- From 1494 (Meio 3) to 1541(Tenbun 10)
- Raw cotton native to the southern part of China was brought to Japan though Nanbanboeki (trades with Spain and Portugal) as an improved variety to suit to the Japanese climate and it came down to Tokai region where Chita Peninsula is located. Thus, cotton-weaving has started.
- 1600- Edo era/Keicho period
- Chita Momen has started as a second job of a farmer. There is a record of about 400 years ago (in around 1600) that cotton cloths were produced as *Misarashi *Kijiro Momen and they were bleached in Ise and started to be shipped to Edo as “Ise Sarashi” or “Matsusaka Sarashi”.
- *Misarashi … Textiles before bleaching
*Kijiro … The true color of cotton like ecru.
- The dawn of Chita Momen
- From 1781 to 1789 Edo era/Tenmei period
- A weaver, Shichiemon Nakajima who had apprenticed in Ise and Matsusaka; the advanced weaving districts at that time, introduced Sarashi processing techniques into Chita district These cotton textiles with more white and higher quality than ever before were encouraged by the feudal domain, Owari han and designated as a local specialty. Then, they became popular in Edo as the most famous high-grade cotton textiles.
Account ledgers in Edo era have been preserved.
(A collection of Chita City History Museum)
- In 1874 (Meiji 7)
- With jacquard looms, a kind of hand looms called batten looms, which have been developed in England, were imported in Nishijin, Kyoto. Then, batten looms became widespread in Chita district as well. Thus, production capability of Chita Momen had increased remarkably.
- Emergence of domestic automatic looms
- From 1896 (Meiji 29) to 1998 (Meiji 31)
- In 1897, Okkawa Cotton Cloth & Co., Ltd was established in Okkawa Takara Machi, with introduction of Toyoda Power Looms developed by Sakichi Toyota (Founder of today’s Toyota Group) who had been dedicated to research & development of weaving looms in Okada village, Chita county, Aichi prefecture. Next year, their woven cotton textiles were shipped for the first time. With this development, financially supported by Touhachi Ishikawa (a village headman in Okkawa village, Chita county), cotton production had been increasingly industrialized and the entire district of Chita peninsula became prosperous as a major production district of cotton products. Compared with common cotton products woven by batten looms made in England, Chita Momen was exceptionally high quality, and it attracted attention of an inspector of the headquarters, Mitsui & Co., Ltd in Tokyo. Then, it rapidly became widely spread in Japan and abroad.
Okkawa Cotton Cloth & Co., Ltd
(A collection of Handa Local History Research Society)
- From 1902 (Meji 35)
- Chita County White Cotton Weaving Guild was established and quality standardization and classifications have been carried out in the entire of Chita production district including the manufacturers. The quality of raw yarns and processes were to be checked and penalties were prescribed to prevent deterioration in quality. Then, strict shipment rules were established. Although the shipment rules don’t exist any more, an inspector’s name is written on the end of a roll of cloth today, which is a relic of the inspection in those days.
The inspection standard for Chita Sarashi, prescribed by Tokyo Weaving Association, had three classes. The photo shows a product of the highest grade.
Tatoushi, a folding paper-case, used by wholesale cotton cloth dealers in those days.
(A collection of Chita City History Museum)
- The golden age of Chita Momen
- From 1927 (Showa 2) to 1937 (Showa 12)
- With a large-scale facility extension by influential men in Chita production district (Saichi Yamada, Umekichi Ando, and etc.), the district owned the largest number of looms and its production volume had increased more and more.
- From 1938 (Showa 13)
- With the start of the World War II, the production of cotton was forced to temporary stagnation due to economic controls. However, soon after the end of the war, Chita Momen had achieved reconstruction, and new weaving businesses had sprung up all over Chita, ranging from large-scale cotton mills to privately-run weavers. At the peak, the number of the weaving businesses totaled 700.
- Today and from now on
- Although the circumstances surrounding Chita Momen have been changing, with the appearance of artificial fibers and diversification in individual tastes, Chita Momen still continues to progress, providing a variety of products in high quality with technical skills cultivated until now, while taking a roll of preserving the weaving industry, with keeping on producing narrow cloths which is essential for Japanese traditional culture.