Araihari (洗い張り)

    Araihari (洗い張り) means “wash and stretch”. Every caution against washing silk has two warnings: the colors will run and the silk will shrink. So what did people do before dry cleaning?

    The kimono is taken apart and then sewn back into one long bolt. After it’s washed, it’s stretched to dry, reblocking the fabric. In some pictures of old Japan, you see fabric stretched over long boards. (In fact, my dictionary defines araihari as: “stretch the pieces of a kimono on a board to dry after they were washed and starched.”) But the professional way now, apparently, is to use these little flexible bamboo sticks with pins on the end.

    When I look carefully at the inner lining I bought, I see pin pricks where the sticks (shinshi 伸子) were inserted. And the edge is no longer perfectly straight but forms a wave pattern, the crests of the waves being where the <i>shinshi</i> stretched the fabric the tautest.

    I’m also fascinated by the little needle holes at the end of the fabric, made when it was sewn into a bolt before washing. I’ll have to do a lot more practice before my running stitches are that straight and even.

    I found several videos of this kimono shop: Daruma which is located in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa…southwest of Tokyo/Yokohama.
    About 10:52 you can see this guy insert the <i>shinshi</i>.

    Be it gardening, or studying Japanese, or whatever…I rarely get anything actually done because I get so absorbed by all the little side trails on my journey. I follow every scent.