Fabric Dyeing Artist, Takako Saito – Dyeing in modern taste

Fabric Dyeing Artist, Takako Saito
- Dyeing in modern taste

What is stencil dyeing?

”Edo-komon” and ”Nagasaka-chugata” are some of the famous dyeing methods of ”tanmono” fabric with stencils which Nakata have already visited during this journey. Takako Saito employs this ”kata-ezome” method. The process is basically the same as the other stencil using methods but the term ”kata-ezome” was introduced to differentiate this method from other similar methods when Keisuke Serizawa, a dyeing artisan, was recognized as Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1956. It was named ”Kata-ezome” due to the excellent design and picturesque nature of Serizawa’s works.
The process of ”kata-zome” is divided among specialists. Designers, stencil carvers, people who apply starch, and dyeing artisans. There is a specialist for each process. However, Takako Saito single handedly does everything from designing to fitting.

Passion for creative activity

Saito studied ceramics at Tokyo University of the Arts, but she got a position at a dyeing studio upon graduation. She has been dyeing fabrics ever since. A change occurred when she read a book about a dyeing artist. The artist was Nenjiro Inagaki, an Important Intangible Cultural Property. He was a ”kata-ezome” artist who made the stencils and did all the process of ”kata-ezome” himself. She was inspired to do the same when she realized that ”this type of dyeing actually exists”.
She then self-taught the necessary techniques for ”kata-ezome”, from which she created her very own elegant style, incorporating universal motifs such as geometric shapes, plants and flowers with her very own coloring and spacing.
”Do you prefer bright colors?” Nakata asked as he studies her work. ”Yes, the ’kimono’ are somewhat more sophisticated and flamboyant when I make them in Yokohama. Where the artist resides is a very important factor for creating.” replied Saito. On the other hand, she has traveled to the marshes in Sengokubara, Hakone and sketched plants and flowers there. In Kanagawa, there is a big city like Yokohama as well as hills and ocean abundant with nature close by. We can see Kanagawa’s environment reflected in her work.

Putting her thoughts into ”kimono”

Dyeing with stencils usually uses patterns or design that has been passed from long ago. So we asked why she makes her own stencils.
”There are merits to dyeing with traditional designs, but I start the process of making ”kimono” with deciding what I want to create. I start with an idea, design, then make the stencils. The technique is traditional, but I always want to dye ”kimono” with modern taste.”
Saito’s ”kimono” reflect her desire to express modern taste with tradition. ”The world of ’kimono’ is very deep. It is worth pursuing throughout one’s life.” Saito told us.


Yokohama, Kanagawa
Stencils for dyeing, fabric dyeing