One of the first products I ever sold when I got into this business was Japanese Katagami. My friend Justin had started a business selling Japanese antiques and one night when we were out having a beer, asked me if I would like to make a little extra money selling antiques for him. It seemed like an interesting thing to do, so I gave it a shot. This led me down a long road that eventually turned into this site and a very different life than I ever imagined for myself. It's been a great ride.
Katagami are paper stencils that are used to print the beautiful colors and patterns that you see on Kimono and Obi. They are originally from the city of Suzuka in Mie prefecture formerly known has Ise which is only about 30 minutes from where I am in Nagoya. They are made from multiple layers of washi paper that are treated with special glue made from Persimmon juice which makes the paper strong and flexible. This is also what gives katagami its characteristic brown color. Special tools called Dogu-bori are used to painstakingly cut intricate designs into the paper. Ise katagami have self-supporting designs so the cut has to be planned out so that the design does not fall apart. This takes incredible planning as one mistake will ruin many hours work. Typically one sheet could take over a month to create.
Some artwork requires a stencil that cannot be made with Ise Katagami. These are designs with floating items within the design. This required an adaptation that was made possible with silk thread or even human hair. This thread was used to help support pieces of the design and hold it in place. Later when machines were invented that could make lattice support structures it became slightly easier and katagami could be made to be much more durable.
Katagami are really spectacular pieces of art in their own right and can be framed with white backing to make a beautiful decoration for your wall. They are also really durable and are suitable for repeated printing if you want to use them for your artwork. Check out our large collection of Japanese Katagami at Chidori Vintage.