Ever since established in 1555, we have been assembling the finest techniques
to produce a wide variety of dyed and woven textiles that reflect the beauty of each era.
Rooted in Kyoto over centuries, with in-depth knowledge and skills that we cultivated,
we have been evolving our path from the past, present, and future,
together with our pursuit of beauty as well as cultural aspect.
Chiso was established in Kyoto in 1555 as a merchant handling vestments especially for the monks or aristocrats.
However, the profession of Chiso forebears were the carpenter specializing in shrine construction,
and used to provide the Chikiridai * to Kasugataisha Shrine.
With this origin, Chiso designed a trademark based on that historical fact,
choosing the tachibana orange flower as the family crest, chikiridai for the trade name, and Chikiriya as fictions name.
As a vestment purveyor, during the Edo period, Chiso provided vestments,
including kimono and accessories for monzeki** related families, including Higashi Honganji, and the Imperial family.
Not only as merchant, they served as senior statesmen engaged in municipal policies in the city.
With such reasons, at that time, there were more than 100 branches of Chikiriya at Sanjo Muromachi
**A temple whose head priest is a member of the Imperial family
Chikiridai refers to the relics used in important rituals (igi no mono). They are used for shozokutabari, which has featured costumes and written appointments for serving at Kasuga Wakamiya On-matsuri Festival since 1135 . The forebears of chikiriya used to dedicate chikiridai every year, which consists of three linked octagonal bases for placing paper fringes attached to a stick and the paper flower called Chikiri-bana depicting Japanese apricot, peony, tachibana orange, and chrysanthemum.
The role of a vestment purveyor includes the procurement of noble vestments and Buddhist altar cloth suitable for different family background as well as occasions, with profound knowledge of the colors and costumes based on studies on the practices of the court or military households.
The knowledge, culture, and norms of court nobles are defined in studies on the practices of the court or military households, including costumes, furniture, Japanese court music, cookery, and tanka short Japanese poetry.
At the beginning of the Meiji period, Chiso shifted its mainstay business to yuzen-dyeing and
asked Japanese-style painters to create rough sketches in order to bring the new perspectives to the conventional design.
This actually was the beginning of a new era of yuzen-dyeing.
Chiso proactively developed new technology and techniques,
which lead the company to achieve many domestic and international prizes
and awards though launching masterpieces with the collaboration of various best techniques,
such as velvet yuzen, utsushi-yuzen, and embroidery. Namely,
Chiso became a pioneer in the artistic dyed and woven textile field.
In the Taisho period, Chiso opened branch offices in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Kobe domestically,
as well as overseas including China, Korea, Thailand, and Singapore.
The company expanded its business by exporting merchandise to Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
Request renown painters for design
At the time, the design of yuzen was somewhat subdued. To revitalize, the Sozaemon Nishimura XII asked to create rough sketches for yuzen to the painters who were the representative of art in Kyoto, including Chikudo Kishi, Keinen Imao, and Bairei Kono.
This idea of bringing the fresh design through artists, had been a great financial support to these artists, especially during the difficult time of capital transferring (to tokyo) and Haibutu Kishaku*. Ultimately, therefore, Chiso was also a greta patron of the artist.
*Abolishing Buddhism and destroying Buddhist images
Velvet yuzen is made on velvet fabric treated with yuzen-dyeing, which allows more profound expressions.
A 3D effect can be generated through the creation of different types of textures by cutting and shaping the velvet. Chiso was highly rated for the tapestries inspired by Western room decorations and the screens decorated with velvet yuzen. The Imperial Household Ministry (currently, the Imperial Household Agency) purchased some of these works.
During the Meiji period, utsushi-yuzen was developed, and which extended the potential in design expression with rich colours. It is stencil-based dyeing that uses colored paste consisting of glues and chemical dyes introduced from overseas.
A pioneer of this technique, Chiso presented utsushi-yuzen items as Kamogawa- dye at the Kyoto Exposition in 1878. Chiso's yuzen had became prominent items with its rich colours and bold patterns created by Japanese-style painters.
When the Showa period began, due to the WWⅡ, Japan became more militaristic, moving toward national unity.
Undoubtedly, in the context as such,
the dyeing and weaving industries in Kyoto faced to a harsh situation.
Chiso established the laboratory, Nishimura Soh Senshoku Kenkyusho to preserve and
continue a variety of techniques even during such difficult period.
After the war end, Chiso recovered relatively earlier than other companies
with using traditional techniques, and devoted to kimono making.
The company expand its business to the department stores nationwide,
and envisaged to become a brand, known for delivering first-class kimono.
Traditional Technique Conservation & Inheritance
When WWII began, under the Regulation of the Production and Sale of Luxury Items enacted in 1940, the government prohibited to manufacture and sale of the goods, and which extended to Chiso's luxurious kimono.
The Sozaemon Nishimura XIII founded the laboratory, Nishimura Soh Senshoku Kenkyusho, with the purpose of preserving the qualified techniques. Since this purpose is clearly not against the law, Chiso is allowed continuously to produce dyed woven articles during the war.
These dyed woven products are kept by Chiso until now, and which are substantial reminders of the artisans who used the best techniques and effort despite of difficulties in everyday life.
Our boundless pursuit
There is the furisode with noshi bundle design that has been considered as ultimate master piece in Yuzen kimono, owned by Yuzen History Society that Chiso represents.
With the purpose of improve artisans' skills and techniques, Chiso reproduced this kimono design and reawaken its beauty.
As such, Chiso will continuously reproduce short-sleeved kimono in order to improve artisans' skills and techniques as well as to pass on excellent designs to future generations.
Surviving the difficult postwar period, Chiso entered a new era in the rapid economic growth in Japan.
At the wedding of Prince Akihito in 1959, Chiso was honoured to receive an order for kimono and ornaments for Princess Michiko for their wedding.
The presented articles included a kimono with Hatsune Gosho Kai design that was inspired by The Tale of Genji.
The design remains as best seller until now.
From Showa to Heisei period, as the Kimono industry had showed apparent shrank,
Chiso bravely challenged and entered to the new fields of business.
At the Yuzen Art Exhibition that started in 2001,
Chiso successfully collaborated with domestic and overseas artists as well as the fashion brands.
Since then, Chiso has been challenging the boundary of yuzen through developing new products.
At a same time, not only creating new opportunities,
Chiso also had been supporting traditional industries and culture such as Japan-made silk yarn or
initiated actual research for conservation and usage of cultural properties by establishing the Institute for Chiso Arts and Culture.
Chiso collaborates in a variety of fields with the designs from its internal designers as well as yuzen dyeing techniques.
Pure Japanese Silk
Today, Japan-made silk yarn accounts for less than 1% of overall distribution in Japan. To protect domestically produced silk, Chiso has constructed a cooperative system involving silkworm farmers in Tohoku and retailers across Japan with subsidies provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Chiso Flagship store
In 2020, the first Chiso Flagship store has opened in Sanjyo, Kyoto, where we have been pursuing our creation of “beauty” since established.