Traditional Clothes of Ainu People: Nibutani Bark Cloth

Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, product example front view

Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, product example backside (Image:
Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, product example entire view (Image:
Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, product example front view (Image:
Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, product example wallet and purse(Image: Livedoor)

Nibutani Bark Cloth’s specialty is that made from a natural fabric which is very breathable (meaning cool), strong water resistance, very strong as a natural fabric, with unique texture, and simple beauty. Nibutani is name of place and its meaning come of “the place where trees grow” in Ainu language. Nibutani is made in Hirakata Sarugun, Hiratori-cho, Hokkaido. Nibutani Bark cloth is woven by weavers using yarns which comes from Halibut tree of Saru River basin.

Same Manufacturing Tool Used for More Than 100 Years

Almost similar tool with 100 years ago, is still being used to make Nibutani Bark cloth even now. For making Nibutani Bark cloth, bark of Halibut and Scallops trees are peeled off and dried. After drying, those are split into about 2 mm width, and used for weaving cloth by ancient weaving loom called Atkyuka.

Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, bark materials

Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, a making process of handling bark

Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, weaving bark cloth

Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, completed bark cloth
(Images:, MYLOHAS, and

Traditional Shapes and Patterns of The Bark Cloth

Japanese crafts Nibutani Bark Cloth, product example backside entire view

The shape of Nibutani Bark cloth is similar to Japan’s long-sleeved Kimono with joining both sides in front for both female and male, and wearing thin band to put together clothes. For casual purposes, it is usual to make without any patterns. For occasional situations, cotton cloth brought in by Japanese people are put on collars and sleeves, and those are decorated with embroidery or appliqué.

Although there is no spectacular coloring like Yuzen or Red type on clothes, there are usually appliquéing pattern known as “Ainu pattern” for occasional case usage. In this pattern, start point and end point of the drawn line has to be in a rounded shape to symbolize protection from devil.

In Conclusion

The “Ainu pattern” is very uniqueness of Nibutani Bark cloth from the point of fashion. It is very common thing to try Kimono in Japan, and it is starting to lose some interest. On the other hand, like Nibutani Bark cloth, some local traditional clothes are might be good place to feel real old Japan culture. The meaning of 100 years old looming machine is still being used, can be translated into old traditional style and making procedures are still preserved very well in modern times. So, you can experience traditional culture from old times for real. And it is very interesting about Nibutani Bark cloth’s material, which is created from endothelium of special trees.

Author - huchka

I am from Mongolia and studying abroad in Japan since 2007. Currently, I am living in Osaka and studying at Graduate school of Information Science and Technology, Osaka University. I have always fascinated about Japan product's quality in so many different levels, especially in deep specific fields. Also, Japan has very interesting long historic and traditional culture and it has been kept so well within modern era that I found amazing.
Recently, I am taking interest in handmade crafts and it's background culture and history. So I can introduce what you are looking or interesting.
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