By Patricia Belyea
ARIMATSU JP Visiting Arimatsu, the mothertown of shibori, ranks high on the Bucket List of most textile lovers. You take the train for a short half-hour ride out of Nagoya, get off at Arimatsu station, and turn up the street with the traditional buildings. Shibori-style noren in almost every doorway signal that you’ve arrived!
Over four centuries ago, shibori tie-dyeing began in Arimatsu. Natural fibers were bound with thousands of micro knots using fine threads, and dyed with natural indigo. Historically only artisans in Arimatsu were allowed to make and sell shibori fabrics. This encouraged the craft to grow into a vital local industry.
At the heart of the old district sits the Arimatsu Narumi Tie-Dyeing Museum. For only 300¥ ($3 USD), you can ascend to the second floor of the Museum to see shibori experts nimbly knotting fabric. In the room next door, you can view examples of tie-dyeing patterns and products made with shibori fabrics. If you are fortunate, the ticket taker will change the informational video to the English version for you to watch.
On the ground floor of the Museum, you’ll find a large gift shop and a Russian-Japanese cafe that serves lunch and coffee service. Up and down the main street, you can discover more shops with stunning examples of shibori work and cafes with a wide range of fares.
Victoria and I managed to squeeze one more memorable activity into our Shibori Day. The fashionable Mocha Cat Cafe in Nagoya gave us access to 20 felines of different breeds and personalities. Once we secured our purses and shoes in lockers, we entered the enormous space filled with elegant cat perches, carpeted platforms, and raised raceways.
With a charge of 300¥ ($3 USD) for every ten minutes in the cafe and a mandatory drink fee of 350¥ ($3.50 USD), a short peek was planned. To our surprise, we stayed a whole hour—enjoying every moment of cat contact. (At 6pm, dinner bowls arrived. Then we just couldn’t leave as it was a compelling feeding frenzy to watch!)