Textile woven with the pride and sprit of Kameda rice farmers
Echigo is a traditional name for the present Niigata prefecture, which is historically recognized as one of Japan’s top rice-producing regions. In Echigo there was an area called Kameda, which was the birthplace of the Kamedajima textile. Before the modern rice-framing history of Niigata (Echigo), Kameda was particularly known to have extremely severe farming conditions; the most of the rice fields were basically marshlands, where the farmers had to labor in waist-deep water throughout the farming seasons. Naturally it was very important for the rice growers to have strong outfit to work under such harsh farming conditions. It was this necessity that the farmers themselves developed Kamedajima textile for. Today Kamedajima is often regarded as a symbol that represents generations of indomitable perseverance of not only Kameda, but also the entire Niigata (Echigo) farmers who devoted their lives to growing rice, which is valued as a sacred food by many Japanese even in the present day.
Unique weaving technique creates a sturdy yet comfortable feeling
EOnce flourishing Kamedajima textile began to decline after World War II and by the early 2000’s, the production of the material completely ended. However, Teruo Nakabayashi, the third generation president of Nakaei Weaving Company Co., Ltd. based in Kameda, refused to keep Kamedajima buried in history. Nakabayashi rebuilt Kamedajima piece by piece and finally succeeded in fully reproducing the quality, texture and design of Kamedajima textile. It required the combination of both highly skilled craftsmen’s work and semi-manual weaving machines, not necessarily the fully automated or the most advanced ones, to bring back the material that becomes more comfortable after each washing.
Hidden meanings and wishes in Kamedajima stripes
Along with its simple and comfortable texture, Kamedajima is renowned for its very unique strips. The aesthetically refined Kamedajima stripes are often regarded as an expression of hard work by generations of Echigo rice farmers as well as wishes for infinite good fortune and abundant rice harvest.
The stripes are also said to signify farmers admiration for beautiful landscape of expansive rice fields in Niigata.
This is a symbol of the Kamedajima product made by Nakaei weaving company.