Araihari: The Art of Washing Kimono

Neat parcels of fabric with crispy paper labels browned with age.

After opening up a bundle for the first time I discovered it’s hidden secret.

It was a former kimono from a previous life waiting to be rediscovered.

The kanji describes the details of the original garment and the previous owner.


Araihari is a garment, such as kimono or haori, deconstructed to it’s original form for washing.

The various parts are sewn back together to form a jigsaw of the bolt from which is was cut.



The panel is then spread over a wooden board and washed with water, soap and a horse hair brush. A seaweed based starch is also pasted on.

washing araihari

The fabric is then stretched on a delicate frame. Hanging up to dry they look like long, narrow kites.

Araihari Hanging to Dry at Darmaya in Hiratsuka, outside Tokyo

The name comes from two verbs arau (wash) and haru (stretch), which are combined into the noun ‘araihari’.

Once washed and dried, the kimono would be remade or rolled into araihari bundles and reused.

This traditional method of washing Japanese garments such as kimono is carried out by skilled artisans of which relatively few remain.

Women wash and hang out kimono fabric in Edo era

Traditional Japanese garments follow similar simple patterns. The value lies in the quality of the fabric.

Araihari maintains the valuable element and allows for it to be reused, over and over again. The process is integral to the world of traditional Japanese clothing and a lesson in sustainable living.

Buy araihari and other antique textiles from FurugiStar.

The photos above were kindly provided by Darmaya in Hiratsuka, outside Tokyo. See their site here (Japanese only but interesting photos especially on the blog)

About FurugiStar

Look in my shop for Japanese antiques and vintage items. View all posts by FurugiStar

2 responses to “Araihari: The Art of Washing Kimono

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