Guide to SKOPJE

Kumihimo Marudai, Kusaki-zome – Japanese Natural Dye Techniques

The Embassy of Japan in Austria accredited to the Republic of Macedonia organized workshops on traditional Japanese handicrafts and natural dyeing techniques at Suli An in Skopje. The workshops were held by Professor Hoko Tokoro from Kyoto, Japan.

Kumihimo 2013 (463)

On the first day Ms. Tokoro presented “kumihimo” a technique of braiding silk fibers into cords on “marudai” – traditional Japanese braiding looms. The cords and belts were traditionally used for tying the “obi” (kimono sash), for fastening katana swords to the holster as well as tying goods for transportation.

Kumihimo (11)  Kumihimo (12)

Kumihimo (14) Kumihimo (15)

On the second day the “kusaki-zome” technique was presented. It is a way of dyeing silk with natural herbal dyes. This year’s workshop attendants used a blue (indigo) dye that is extracted from the Indigofera plant and red dye obtained from Madder root.

Ms. Tahoro is a renowned expert in these techniques and she has been holding workshops and seminars throughout Japan for many years. It is interesting to note that at one point in her teaching career she had 800 students throughout Japan including Empress Kojun the mother of the present Emperor Akihito.


Ms. Tahoro always tells the story of Lydia, the first Christian in Europe. When St. Paul visited Macedonia Lydia offered him hospitality in her home later becoming the first person to accept the Christian faith in Europe. More than 2000 years ago this woman found a way to extract purple colour from Madder root thus making it available to the masses.

Photo: Galina Strackova