Amami Oshima is a place not only filled with nature, but it also features valuable culture as well as traditional industries.
I will now introduce a theme park-like area where you can have great fun as you learn about traditional culture. It is also a place that I highly encourage you to visit if you come to Amami Oshima.
A theme park to enjoy Amami island culture
As you drive down the National Road 58 from Naze, Amami City towards Kasari Town, at the next intersection after you pass the home center ‘BIG II’ in Tatsugo Town, there is a large sign.
That place is the birthplace of ‘Authentic Amami Oshima Tsumugi,’ the cloth of ‘Yumeori no Sato’ in Tatsugo Town.
Here you can enjoy:
- Oshima Tsumugi cloth, small accessories and souvenirs
- Tours of their Oshima Tsumugi production workshop
- Mud-dyeing and weaving trials
- Tsumugi Kimono-wearing trials
There are also workshops for kids such as making shell picture frames. It certainly is “a theme park to enjoy Amami island culture.”
You can take in the Tsumugi cloth as you tour the production workshop and do various trials such as wearing Tsumugi kimono.
You can encounter everything from traditional Oshima Tsumugi to the Yumeori no Sato original ‘aurora’ dying method thanks to the exceptional skill of the craftsmen here.
A place where you can closely experience the world’s pinnacle of technology
‘Oshima Tsumugi’ of Amami is considered one of the ‘World’s Three Great Fabrics,’ along with Persian rugs and French Gobelin tapestries.
There are over 40 steps to the manufacturing process of Oshima Tsumugi. In some cases, over a year is necessary to make one roll of fabric.
Calling Oshima Tsumugi “the world’s finest fabric” is no understatement, as the complex production process exhibits. Unfortunately, it has become more difficult to see this process easily in recent years.
Yumeori no Sato is a valuable place where you can tour various steps of the manufacturing process, such as creating a graph of the pattern, thread preparation, thread alignment, starching, binding, mud-dyeing, processing, and the weaving process. (※You can also choose just one of these steps to experience at a time.)
(Trying out the weaving process as she is carefully taught)
(The mud-dyeing workshop, which you can only experience on Amami)
Why an Oshima Tsumugi textile manufacturer created an Oshima Tsumugi ‘theme-park’
I spoke with Shingo Minami, the representative of Yumeori no Sato Co., Ltd., about this topic of not only preserving the traditions of ‘Authentic Amami Oshima Tsumugi,’ but also actively connecting them with the future.
“In the present, opportunities to enjoy kimono have decreased, not only Oshima Tsumugi. Inevitably the produced amount has decreased as well, and the present condition is that Oshima Tsumugi manufacturers must not do that.
In order to retain this world-renowned incredible work, it is necessary to protect the labor of those craftsmen involved in Oshima Tsumugi manufacturing as well as make efforts to increase this labor.
First, in order to connect Oshima Tsumugi with the future, we must create an environment where young craftsmen can thrive. By taking into account the background of the present and arranging a work environment that fits various lifestyles, we can improve the environment and how workers are treated. We can create a model case where we support each other and, in this way (a new working environment), we can preserve and let traditional crafts prosper.”
(A young artisan who jumped into the Oshima Tsumugi industry from a different one)
“Then, I would also like to put effort into creating good products that are properly given to the hands of consumers and reflect the labor costs of the craftsmen, not so much the number of products.” With this, I was taught from various perspectives about Oshima Tsumugi.
(Mr. Minami united with young supporters and planned a project to send out Oshima Tsumugi made by young artisans directly, and through crowdfunding they impressively raised their target amount. It seems that they are sending Oshima Tsumugi and other accessories to those from across Japan who kindly supported them.)
They run a theme park where people can easily experience Oshima Tsumugi in order to convey this sentiment to more people.
In addition to Yumeori no Sato, Company Director Minami is currently active in the Youth Department of the Authentic Amami Oshima Tsumugi Silk Fabric Cooperative, as well as the JAPAN Land ‘amami oshima tsumugi’ aimed for those overseas, among others. He is putting out great effort not only for the company, but for the entire Oshima Tsumugi industry as a whole.
“Although there are many things I’d like to do, I consider it especially important to communicate with the customers who are even just a bit interested in Oshima Tsumugi,” said Company Director Minami.
“Along with this, it is imperative to create an environment for those who ‘want to enjoy Oshima Tsumugi and Japanese-style clothing.’
- To create a place to master Kimono dressing
- To create opportunities to wear Oshima Tsumugi
- To create a place where you can enjoy Amami Oshima as you wear Oshima Tsumugi
We aim to create a town that gives off a feeling of Oshima Tsumugi, so that sightseers see this wonderful spectacle and excitedly visit Amami Oshima. I would be very happy if our island could become a genuine Amami Oshima of Oshima Tsumugi.”
(There are many sightseers who visit Yumeori no Sato because they “wanted to try on an authentic Oshima Tsumugi kimono at least once.”)
Upon listening to Company Director Minami, I remembered various occasions when I myself had gone about the town in an Oshima Tsumugi kimono and had people kindly comment; everyone dawns a smile, from the person wearing the kimono to those observing.
Before the interview, when I asked them to all take a photo because it was a rare occasion, the whole family gathered together for the photo while wearing Oshima Tsumugi.
Just like the family of Company Director Minami, I’d like to acquire the refined taste of those who enjoy wearing Japanese-style clothing on a daily basis; like those who think ‘I’m going out for a bit, so I’ll wear Oshima Tsumugi!’
While preserving important traditions, Company Director Minami’s story of motivated collaboration between new initiatives and other industries is valuable and will surely largely change the value of Oshima Tsumugi.
This is Yumeori no Sato, run by Company Director Minami who spoke passionately of the future of Amami Oshima.
If the timing is right, you may also be able to speak with the Company Director!
Please feel free to come any time.
Yumeori no Sato
Address: 3213-1 Taisho, Tatsugo-cho, Oshima-bu, Kagoshima Prefecture