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Kanji, Kana & Pronunciation
Romaji Shibori
Kanji 絞り
Kana しぼり
Audio Coming Soon
(n) Tie-dye

Shibori refers to a very old method of tie-dyeing, most usually in the form of kanoko or "fawn spot" shibori. It is used especially for kimono and formal obiage. It is extremely work-intensive and true shibori is very valuable. Imitations that are not hand-dyed also exist and imitation kanoko shibori pattern is popular.


Due to the method of dyeing, true kanoko shibori items are rarely as smooth as others of similar fabric. Shibori obiage might not be flattened at all and retain a very "bumpy" and stretchy quality to the item.

There are over 100 known shibori techniques, a few of the most common are:

Arashi shibori
(storm shibori) the pattern is likened to rain driven by a strong wind. The entire bolt is wrapped diagonally on a pole and then wound with thread and scrunched down the pole to compress it into pleats.
Itajime shibori
large geometric designs formed by pleating and clamping the fabric between wooden boards. Only the edges of the fabric receive dye.
Kanoko shibori
small to coin-sized square-ish undyed spots with a speckle of dye inside. Usually arranged in neat rows and columns.
Kumo shibori
(spider shibori) characterized by radiating lines which are crossed by an even spiral of lighter white lines made by wrapping thread around finger-sized projections of cloth.
Nui shibori
(also ori nui shibori) stitched shibori. Any kind of linear design can be made by stitching along a design and then pulling the thread tight. The hallmark of this technique are the "doubled" lines created by stitching back and forth over the design's outline.
Tsujihana shibori
(also tsujigahana) especially valuable and prestigious type of shibori that combines intricate tying technique with hand-painting the dye. It was not used for a long time until Itchiku Kubota discovered it in a museum piece and dedicated his career to recreating the technique.


Arimatsu is an area famous for its indigo shibori work.


NOTE: See more relevant images in our corresponding gallery.

Formality & TPO

Items featuring true shibori may rank any level of formality, although due to the value of the technique it would be curious to wear such items to lower-rank TPO.

In obiage, full shibori is the most formal of all and part-shibori comes second.

TPO - Within Japan

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

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