Slap! Tap tap! Shhhhh… Slap! Tap tap! Shhhhh… The steady,
comfortable sounds reverberate around the Agena’s residential area in Uruma City.
The source of the noise is “Rankarafu Workshop”.
Here along with specialty Uruma fabric made from biigu (rice grass),
the owner sells her handwoven cotten kimono belts, tapestries, and other items.
Inside the workshop are several old wooden weaving machines.
Their sounds of “smack, tap tap, shhhhh…” fill the room.
This symphony played by human and wood has a warm, relaxing tone.
This workshop was opened in 1997 by a group of women who participated in lessons
that were part of an effort to revitalize the art of hand weaving.
Surprisingly, most of the women had never practiced hand weaving before.
Now, 20 years later, they are all veteran weavers.
First, we’ll explain how the fabric is made.
The process begins with dying and drying the thread.
To prevent fuzzing, the bottom of the thread is covered in glue
and wrapped around the wooden frame and arranged in the desired design.
Next these arranged strings are set with the sewing machine
and finally the thread is ready for weaving.
This pre-weaving process takes around one week in total. In the world of handweaving,
extreme patience and perseverence is required.
Now that the preparation is done, it’s time to start weaving.
The fabric is calmly, carefully, and very slowly woven with love.
The resulting product has a unique,
warm feeling about it that you can only come find in handwoven fabric.
The older women use the guushihanaui (flowers woven with bamboo sticks)
technique, arranging yarn floating water into beautiful flower patterns one by one.
Each weaver has their own individual style,
and the different patterns and looks of the fabric is part of what makes handwoven fabric so special.
Just like at art museums, you’re sure to find a piece that speaks to you.
Currently, the workshop focuses on creating kimono obi (belts)
and fabric made from rice grass.
Their guushihanaui obi all have a unique, one of a kind flower pattern.
They’re a very popular item, recieving orders from all across Japan.
The workshop’s name “Rankarafu” means “to create cloth from orchids.
” When the shop first opened, the weavers made “orchid cloth” from orchid fibers,
but the sheer amount of labor and time needed to produce the cloth made it a highly expensive item,
and over time it slowly decreased in demand. Unfortunately they no longer make orchid cloth,
but these precious can still be seen on display in the shop,
and visitors can listen to the weavers explain the long process needed to make this beautiful fabric.
Inplace of orchid fabric, the workshop began producing fabric made
from the Uruma City specialty product “rice grass.”
By weaving the dried, hard grass together the weavers create a soft but firm fabric that will keep its shape.
Their products are currently sold throughout Uruma City as a reccomended local item,
and have become popular with tourists as well.
Shown here are card cases and coasters made from woven rice grass.
Location / Uruma City YonashiroYakena2241-3
elephone | Fax Number / 098-978-3276
Buisness Hours / Mondays ~ Fridays 10:00 AM ~ 5:00 PM