Kuzu-fu (Grass Cloth)
Kuzu-fu are fabrics made from fibers of creepers of a kudzu, which are climbing plants. This is believed to be one of the oldest Japanese fabrics. Kuzu-fu was excavated out of the ruins of the Tumulus Period. There are descriptions about kuzu-fu even in the materials from the Nara Period and Heian Period. It is believed that kuzu-fu were widely used during these period. Now, their main production area is around Kakegawa City in Shizuoka Prefecture. There is also a description that says kuzu-fu were Kakegawa City’s specialty in the materials from the Edo Period. The distinctive characteristic of Kakegawa kuzu-fu is that other than kuzu yarns are used, such as cotton yarn, for tate-ito, and that kuzu yarns are used for yoko-ito that don’t twist yoko-ito. Whereas, for example in Kyushu area, it is said that they used tate-ito and yoko-ito which were both twisted.
Kuzu-fu have a shine, and they were widely used as clothing for Kuge (court nobles) and Bushi (warriors) until the Edo Period. During and after the Meiji Period, such a trend was gone and they began to be produced as wallpapers. Kuzu-fu wallpapers were treasured as Japan’s exporting products, but South Korea soon began its production of kuzu-fu wallpapers and production of Japan’s kuzu-fu has decreased. Now, kuzu-fu are used as the materials for obi (kimono belts), zouri (Japanese sandals) and bags.