「悉皆業とは?」Kimono cleaning & maintenance workshop visit

「悉皆業とは?」Kimono cleaning & maintenance workshop visit

Ever wondered how kimono are cleaned or maintained? A while back I had a pleasure to visit ANDO TAKASHI Dye Factory – a traditional company which does professional cleaning and restoring of kimono as well as new made to order kimono (“ANDO”).


Curious as to how such an operation may look from the inside I paid them a visit. The staff of ANDO showed me around and explained what they do.

[Basically] Kimono (silk or other delicate fabrics) can’t be cleaned well at home because it may shrink/distort and the dye might bleed e.g., therefore are often handed over to professionals when the time for some deep cleaning arises. Dry cleaning seems an easy and quick option which can wash the dirt on the surface, however it can not get all types of stains out and is not a very thorough cleaning method esp. when it comes to the makeup foundation on the collar, food spill or such. For this, you need a professional technique of getting rid of stain (called “shimi-nuki”).
The longer you wear the kimono, the thinner the threads get. The threads of the areas which get stretched often i.e. the hip area and the armpit area when tying up with Obi belt may be too weak and cut over years. To mend this, there is a traditional kimono wash/repair technique of “Arai-hari” (洗い張り).

Traditionally, kimono are taken apart into each part and sewn back into their original fabric shape – a 12.5 meter long x 37 cm width fabric bolt. As you may know, kimono parts have no curve, unlike western clothes, so that it is possible to re-make the rectangular original fabric shape. On the 1st floor, there are the machines for “Arai-hari” process.




Taking the kimono apart

Arai-hari / 洗い張り means “Arai = wash” and “Hari = Expand” in Japanese. Where did this name come from? Expand here means “to dry”. The act of expanding the textile to dry. The re-assembled fabric bolt is to be washed by water first. Professionals know how to wash the silk kimono with water, however if trying at home, the fabric most likely gets shrieked and out of shape or the silk patchy.

The photo shows the machine resizing the shrunk kimono textile – called “Yu-noshi”. Steaming while pulling the textile from the edges can resize the textile to the original size. A well experienced artisan works with this machine adjusting manually and carefully based on the textile with different sizes millimeter by millimeter.





Not only for Arai-hari process, but also “Yu-noshi” is for a new textile which has shorter length than it should be. The Kimono textile in general starts shrinking right after being sewn. Before making a complete kimono, Yu-noshi process makes the size as it should be.


As a silk kimono owner I am often worried to stain the kimono when having dinner with friends or a day out in the city. But there is a method to make the kimono water repellent. Let’s say you spill red wine on your kimono – with this technique it will pearl right off the fabric.
This treatment of kimono can be done at ANDO too, with help of this large machine.
If that isn’t great news!?




 – A company with a long tradition –

Founded in 1879, ANDO specialized in dyeing black kimono such as Mofuku, Montsuki. Evolving with the ever changing industry and needs it is now in the 5th generation and offering various services surrounding kimono maintenance, cleaning and dyeing and sewing both in Japan and overseas.


ANDO is a type of business called ” Shikkaigyo (悉皆(しっかい)業) ” which means “doing all about Kimono well”. There are numerous artisans and companies involved making kimono and Shikkaigyo is one important role to connect all. Based on the needs of customers, ANDO does the jobs in house as well as outsourcing.

Upstairs, in a quiet room apart from the large machines the artisans specialized in the “kamon” aka family crest can be found. Over time, hand drawn family crests might get dull or the kimono gets passed on to another family which needs to change the crest to their own family. All this can be done here. With several tools the crest can be removed with a special chemicals steam and later drawn back on. The company can put almost all family crests (seen in “Monten/紋典/family crest dictionary”).







Sewing of the kimono is conducted at their company in HCMC, Vietnam. Around 200 seamstresses there have been trained for years and are guided by a Japanese kimono professional with 1st level Wasaishi certification (一級和裁士) to ensure top quality. (Actually, one of my favorite foods is Vietnamese. One day I would like to visit their factory in Vietnam too.)

On the top floors of the company, the sewn kimono are ironed, double checked and carefully wrapped to be shipped to their respective owners.






So many gorgeous Furisode! I love all the vivid colors. とてもきれいな振袖ですね。鮮やかな色が素敵です!

Can my old kimono be saved?

I brought a very stained and sunburned kimono for Mr. Ichikawa to analyze. Quite a difficult case.



Interview with Mr. Ichikawa of ANDO

今回、工場を案内してくれた市川さんへインタビュー(私の履歴書風? 笑)です。

1. Tell us about you and yourself? 自己紹介をお願いします!

A. I am a manager of sales department of ANDO and project manager for WA TAILOR which offers custom made iromuji kimono online. On weekdays I am usually around at the Kimono wholesalers and retailers in Nihonbashi area, Tokyo. On weekends I do seminars what to do with kimono with a lot of dirt, mold, sizing for kids etc.
With WA TAILOR, I do web promotion of kimono for the young. By the way, the kimono beauty in the promotion video is my wife. I hired her to cut the cost, haha.

有限会社 安藤孝染工場 営業部営業課 主任と色無地のカスタムメイドのウェブサービスを提供しているWA TAILOR(ワ テイラー)事業部のプロジェクトマネージャーを兼任しています。
WA TAILOR事業部では事業の立ち上げからマネジメントをしています。前職の経験やこの業界ではあまりいない若年層の感覚を取り入れた着物選びや着物の敷居を低くするための試みを日々考えwebを使って世界に発信していくための活動をしています。ちなみにプロモーション動画に出てくる着物美女は経費削減のため妻を採用しましたw

2. How did you start your career? いまのお仕事につくきっかけは?

A. I started out as a part time creator (then later full time managing projects) at FOURDIGIT – web development company for about 10 years. When I first joined, the company had as few as 20 employees. When I left, it was more than 100 employee company. This experience became an important base in my current job to make a organization better.
After this company I lived in Australia for one year. My hobby was backpacking and I wanted to live overseas. After I came back to Japan, I asked myself what mattered to me most and thought the family business of my mother side, ANDO, is the one. This was why I joined ANDO.


3. Childhood / Adult memories/hobby? 子供の頃又は大人になってからいい思い出や趣味を教えてください。

A. I was the basist of a band called “99RadioService”. When we did gigs in early time, there were not many audiences and I thought I had to have some skill and joined the web development company. After a while, we could debut with indies and major label and released CDs. Even though I left the band I am still supporting the band and wishing their success.


4. Best way to relax? とてもお忙しそうですが、普段の生活で一番のリラックス方法は?

A. I love the sea. In summer I do scuba diving in some area with not many people around. I can relax looking at some fishes, and also looking at some bonfire at camping.


5. What is your future plan? 夢とか・やりたいことありますか?

A. I want to bring Kimono much closer to people. I do not mean I want people to wear it everyday but I want to lower the price to make kimono more affordable. If pure silk, the high price is understandable but there is no transparency in pricing in Kimono industry and I think this may keep young people away from Kimono. There are many high end kimono. Yet, I as a kimono producer, would like to offer something with quality yet not expensive.


6. Tips for kimono wearer overseas how to wash, maintain? (海外の着物愛用者へのアドバイスを!)

A. Friends in overseas tell me that popularity of “Japanese things” are on rise.
In our company including our factory there are several English speaking employees (not strange today’s Japan, but not so common in our industry). We have a patterner who did theater costume for more than 10 years in the US.
So if you have anything with Kimono, please write to us. The shipping cost may be something but we will try our best. I also would like to do Kimono seminar with Anji SALZ in overseas too (!).


6a. What if a drink spills on kimono? What to do first? 着物に飲み物をこぼした場合はどうする?

A. I know many different opinions on this but if you spill on kimono, do not rub or hit by a wet napkin or handkerchief. It can cut the texture on the Kimono surface and the rubbed area sometimes gets strangely shiny.
Do not do too much but just use and press a dry handkerchief at it and let the liquid transfer from kimono to the handkerchief. After this, please bring the kimono to us!


6b. Best way to maintain kimono at home? お家で着物の扱い?オススメ?

A. When you buy kimono from shops, the kimono often comes in a paper wrapping called “Tatoushi”. When you store it, please remove the thin paper in the package. That thin paper is only to keep the Kimono at the same position in the Tatoshi package. If you do not remove it, the thin paper does not let kimono breath and the discoloration and mold may happen. (Anji: I did not know that either!!)
Tomesode and Homongi with gold decoration should not be stored with the thin paper, tissue paper or towel in between. The gold part can be floating over years and if you have a thin paper etc. in between, the gold part may be destroyed. My recommendation is not to do anything when storing. If the gold part of one kimono stuck to the other kimono, you can make gold decoration on the other kimono to make it look nice.



Thank you so much for inviting me and taking so much time showing me around!



For more info ぜひ、会社のページもご覧ください!:
有限会社 安藤孝染工場


Thanks for reading!


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