Where Beauty Dawns

Miyako Jōfu

Brief Summary and History

Miyako jōfu is a woven fabric made from hand-spun ramie thread that is dyed with Ryukyu indigo, which gains its deep color through a process of natural dye fermentation. Characterized by delicate criss-cross patterns that are created by tying threads together by hand or with a machine known as “kasuri shimebara”, Miyako jōfu has a luster and texture unlike other textiles found in Okinawa, and was widely regarded before WWII as one of the four major jōfu of Japan. The fabric, held in high regard as a luxury indigo textile that rendered superior summer kimono, earned particular reference in a saying, “Echigo if in the east, Miyako jōfu if in the west”.

The origins of this fabric can be traced back to 1583, when it was first created by a woman named Toji Inaishi. In 1610, Miyako jōfu became a commodity to be paid in lieu of taxes to the royal government of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and then as tribute presented to Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima prefecture). Land tax reform allowed the free production and sale of Miyako jōfu, which paved the way for the fabric to be established as a commercial product around 1923, with industry output peaking at some 17,000 kimono worth of jōfu. Its recognition as a traditional craft product by the prefecture of Okinawa on June 11th, 1974 was followed by designation as a national traditional craft on February 17th, 1975. In addition, Miyako jōfu was certified as an important intangible cultural asset by the Japanese government on April 26th, 1978.

Basic data

MaterialHand-spun ramie thread
Place of manufactureMiyako-jima City, Tarama Village
Main ProductsKimono
Partnership name and date of establishmentMiyako Textile Business Cooperative Association, August 16th, 1958
Date designated by nationalFebruary 17th, 1975
Date designated by prefectureJune 11th, 1976
Source*Source: "An Outline of Promotion Strategies for the Craft Industry"; official website of Miyako Textile Business Cooperative Association (http://miyako-joufu.com)