History of Kojima Area
Facing calm and beautiful Setouchi inland-ocean, the Kojima area has a long history of textile industry originated from cotton cultivation development during the Edo Period (1603 – 1868).
Later on in Meiji Period (1868– 1912), the Kojima area was primarily producing lamp wicks that were indispensable household items, however, the industry significantly declined after electricity lighting technology developed. In 1921, the Kojima industry made a big shift to Tatami tape production lead by an industry leader who was intrigued by a prospect of Tatami tape as future of the Kojima area.
History of Tatami hem
The history of tatami hems is known to have started with tatami mats. In the Todaiji Kenmotu Cho (a list of dedicated articles to the Todaiji Temple), “black brocaded” tatami hems were listed as part of dedicated items. This indicates the tatami hem application was already diversified using available materials in the Nara Period (710s), which can be seen on the royal floor mat for Emperor Shomu (730s), one of collections at the Shosoin Treasure House. A tatami mat started to develop as a single layer of tatami surface with the hems before turning into today’s form attached with a thick mattress base.
In the Muromachi period, development of a prototype of Japanese
residential architecture (Shoin zukuri) was completed.
The tatami mats were commonly placed covering entire floors
in the rooms.
Picture scrolls back then depicted tatami making artisans.
reference: Sarai, 春日権現記巻十二/Tokyo National Museum
In the Heian period, aristocratic mansions adopted a symmetrical architecture style (Shinden-zukuri). The tatami mats were partially placed as beds on the wooden floor of the rooms. The usage of the tatami bedding and hems were regulated depending on the social rankings of the residents.
In the Kyoto Imperial Palace, known as a historical Shinden-zukuri architecture, tatami hems with “Ungen beri” design were used. The “Ungen beri” textile was originated from “Ungen nishiki”, which brought from the Korean Peninsula the same as Buddhism. “Ungen Nishiki” is a rainbow-colored striped design that uses chrysanthemums and clouds (as seen in the edges of tatami mats under the imperial dolls of the Hina dolls).
Tatami hems used by social classes
Ungen beri: Most exclusive design used for the Emperor and seating areas in front of altars of temples and shrines.
Daimon Korai beri: Design for an imperial prince and ministers.
Komon Koraiberi: Design for court nobles other than ministers:
Design for people without significant social status described above
The tatami hem designs were used to indicate social rankings in the feudal time and the practice continued until the Edo period. Most of such tatami hems were exclusively custom-woven as a special textile. For non-exclusive purposes, ordinary woven fabric was cut into certain sizes and hemmed to tatami mats. In that sense, the tatami hems with solid colors like black and brown, which are commonly used today, have an important historical aspect.
The "Koki Beri (brilliant hems)" emerged between the Taisho and Meiji periods and is a remarkable development in the history of tatami hems.
Before the Meiji period, ordinary cloth of single breadth was dyed and striped to produce tatami hems. Today’s production method of tatami hems was evolved by “Koki beri”, which also drove the industry development focused in Okayama, Shizuoka and Fukui prefectures.
According to the records, the “Koki beri” was pioneered by a ribbon manufacture in Fukui prefecture, which succeeded in making tatami hems from ribbons in 1908 and a manufacturer in Shizuoka which shifted its production to tatami hems from shoe laces in 1919.
In 1921, Takeshi Matsui in Kojimakarakoto (in Kurashiki city, Okayama Prefecture) learned the production method of “Koki beri” in the Hamamatsu city of Shizuoka prefecture and began production in Okayama. The tatami hem production industry flourished in Shizuoka, Fukui and Okayama prefecture during the period.
The tatami hem industry development is closely related to its production technology and international economic environmental changes.
1. The industry that has been producing single-width textile declined due to decreased market demands.
2. Decrease in export business due to the poor world economy prompted a new marketability of “Koki beri”.
3. Demand for tatami hems increased due to the Great Kanto Earthquake.
4. Technologies to “glaze” tatami hems were advanced and weaving machineries for mass-producing were improved in 1955.
The tatami hem industry has been established through the processes above.