Tsubaki Oshima Kimono


Tsubaki Oshima Kimono

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This beautifully embroidered piece showcases camellia motifs as its main focus, camellias are referred to as Tsubaki in Japan. Considered as one of the most important flowers in Japan, tsubaki is often used in traditional Japanese patterns.

Considered as one of the most important flowers in Japan, tsubaki is often used in traditional Japanese patterns. In ancient times, the flower was thought to be a sacred tree with mystical powers. The eight century Nihon Shoki or Nihongi records the story of how Emperor Keiko used a stick made from camellia wood to conquer local tribes. During the Edo Period (1615 - 1868), Hidetaga, the second shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty, planted a flower garden in the Fukiage palace and was presented with camellias by various provincial personages, sparking a craze for camellias among the townspeople.

The striking red camellia (tsubaki) represents love, and historically symbolized a noble death among Japanese warriors and samurai. A white camellia means waiting, while the yellow camellia conveys longing.


This fabric showcases techniques of the Honba Oshima Tsumugi, which is a textile that is representative of the traditional crafts of Kagoshima Prefecture which has a long history and tradition.It takes nearly a year to weave one bolt of fabric. Starting with the design, the process is roughly divided into 30 steps. Each of the steps requires highly complex skilled techniques.

Honba Oshima Tsumugi uses silk threads are resist-dyed (kasuri) in both the warp and weft to create setatiled "splash" patterns when woven. Up until mid-Meiji period (late 19th century), the kasuri patterns where made using basho thread (Japanese banana plant) to hand-bind the silk threads. By the Meiji 40's (1907), leo Nagae from Amami-Oshima invented a kasuri technique called Orishime-gasuri using a binding loom (shimebata) which made it possible to create the unique intricate kasuri patterns characteristic to Honba Oshima Tsumugi.

Basic stitch patterns of Oshima Fabric:

Care Instructions

  1. Dry clean (recommended) / Handwash.
  2. Store in cool and dry place away from direct sunlight without plastic covering to avoid trapping humidity and mildew
  3. Note: As with most vintage clothing, there might be slight stains and small holes dependent on the condition of the piece.