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Kanji, Kana & Pronunciation
Romaji Meisen
Kanji 銘仙, 銘撰
Kana めいせん
Audio Coming Soon
(n) Meisen silk

Meisen is method of flat weaving silk which began in the late Edo period, reached its height in the Taisho period, and completely ceased production by 1955. [1] Meisen is associated with a method of kasuri (ikat) dyeing which can produce complex figures quickly and cheaply. Meisen was favored as everyday wear by urban and lower class young women in the 1920s and has seen a resurgence in popularity due to such retro inspired movements as Kimono-hime.


Meisen is a crisp and shiny silk flat weave. Both sides of the fabric show the dyed design.

There are three main kinds of meisen, based on which threads are dyed.[2]

  • Hogushi-moyō - warp threads only are dyed in pattern
  • Yokoso-moyō - weft threads only are dyed in pattern
  • Heiyō-moyō (併用模様, lit. combined pattern) - both warp and weft are dyed in pattern


Meisen production began in the Kanto region in the Meiji period. Meisen developed from combining previous weaving techniques for futo-ori (太織 , thick weaving) with advances in semi-mechanization.[3] Instead of tying and dyeing the individual threads before weaving as in kasuri, the warp threads were stretched out roughly where they would be woven, stabilized with a few temporary weft threads, and then dyed with a stencil resist paste method known as hogushi-nassen (ほぐし捺染).[4] Soichiro Sakamoto patented the hogushi-nassen dyeing method in 1908.[5] This method was developed in Chichibu (Saitama Prefecture) and spread to the other three main sites of production in the Kanto region: Ashikaga (Tochigi Prefecture), Isesaki (Gunma Prefecture), and Hachioji (Tokyo Prefecture).

Meisen was originally made with silk considered too poor quality for export, similar to tsumugi.[6] Unlike tsumugi which uses the short silk filaments left clinging to the cocoon after the main filaments are reeled off, meisen was mainly made from deformed or double cocoons. Initial patterns were stripes and checks and it was marketed as a sturdy cloth suitable for household goods like futon covers or zabuton. After advances in hogushi-nassen, the introduction of new chemical dyes, and changes in taste in the Taisho period, it became fashionable as town-wear. Its cheap price compared to kasuri and the relative speed at which new designs could be introduced lead to a Meisen boom during the late 1920s despite the economic depression.


Formality & TPO

TPO - Within Japan

Occasion Acceptable
Hotel Wedding Reception No
Restaurant Wedding Reception No
Formal Party No
Casual Party OK
Dinner No
Lunch OK
Tea Gathering No
Graduation Ceremony No
Practice No
Theatre, Concert No
Exhibition No
Travel OK
Yes - Acceptable to wear.
OK - OK to wear if no suitable alternatives.
No - Unacceptable to wear.

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions


  1. The Unabridged Dictionary of Colors, Dyes, and Weaves (原色染織り大辞典・談交社・昭和五十二年), 1987. Translation by John Marshall.
  2. Dees, Jan. Taishō Kimono: Speaking of Past and Present. Skira Editore S.p.A. Italy. 2009. p.287.
  3. Cliffe, Sheila. The Social Life of Kimono: Japanese Fashion Past and Present. Bloomsbury Academic, London. 2017. p.51.
  4. Marshall, John. Meisen-gasuri. Published May 10, 2012.
  5. Kogei Japan Article on Chichibu Meisen. Accessed April 25, 2017.
  6. Cliffe, Sheila. The Social Life of Kimono: Japanese Fashion Past and Present. Bloomsbury Academic, London. 2017. p.51.