Arimatsu: 400 years of tie-dye tradition

The town of Arimatsu is located about 20 minutes by train from the center of Nagoya, in the Midori-ku district. During the Edo Period the Tokaido route passed through the middle of the town, leaving merchant buildings that are still preserved today and have been designated as Tangible Cultural Heritage.

Arimatsu is also well known for being the “home” of the traditional technique of “Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori”, a technique of fabric dyeing that has been developed for more than 400 years, and today is the main center of dyeing in Japan making around 90% of the national market.

Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori goods

A brief history of Arimatsu

With the change of the capital of Japan to Edo (Tokyo), the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered that all the Daimyos (feudal lords) where to travel to Edo (Tokyo) every two years to pay tribute to him. Thus, 53 stations were established on the road that connected Osaka and Edo to rest during the trip. Also, he encouraged the founding of towns around these stations, one of which was Arimatsu.

The town of Arimatsu was founded by official decree of the feudal clan Owari Tokugawa. The decree was issued in 1608 (year 13 of Keichō (慶長)). Arimatsu was located between Chiryu-Shuku (知立宿 Chiryu Station) and Narumi-Shuku (鳴 海 宿 Narumi Station) of the Tokaido route and was a post town. At the beginning it had only eight families as inhabitants.

The origins of Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori

The technique of fabric dyeing entered in Japan about 1300 years ago from China, along with the Chinese style of dressing, and was interpreted in a particularly way when it entered Japan.

The Shibori was originally an art of the poor. In feudal Japan, many people could not buy expensive fabrics such as cotton or silk, so clothes were often made from cheap hemp fabrics. People also could not afford to replace clothes regularly, so repairing and dyeing cloth was commonplace, and Shibori’s art evolved as a means to make old clothes look new. During the long period of peace under the Tokugawa shogunate, various arts flourished, and many different local Shibori techniques and forms emerged. Shibori developed along two separate paths.
One, as a method of decorating the silk used to produce kimonos for the aristocracy of Japan (largely made in Kyoto) and another, as popular art that differs from one region to another.

The history of Arimatsu’s success in the shibori dyeing industry dates back to the construction of Nagoya Castle (1610-1614). Tokugawa Ieyasu used workers from all over Japan. A group of workers from Bungo (豊後, actually Oita Prefecture) brought with them the techniques of Shibori, with the technique known as “Kukurizome” (くくり染め).
These workers began to teach local families, who developed the technique to create and sell hand towels and other products. As the traffic increased along the Tokaido road during the beginning of the Edo period, travelers would buy towels and fabrics made by the people of Arimatsu, becoming a staple along the road.

Shokuro Takeda memorial stone
Shokuro Takeda memorial stone, the founder of the Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori technique.

Demand for Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori products has continued to theses days, and local dyers,  who have inherited the techniques, continue to manufacture kimonos, yukatas and other traditional items.
Currently, there are more than one hundred types of Shibori techniques, and among them we can highlight: Nui Shibori (縫い絞り, sew and tie before dyeing), Kumo Shibori (くも絞り, pattern in the form of a spider web), Sekka Shibori (雪花絞り, flower pattern), Miura Shibori (三浦絞り, dyeing method invented by the wife of a Bungo doctor) and Kanoko Shibori (鹿の子絞り, mottled pattern).

Visit the old town of Arimatsu

The old town of Arimatsu stretches about 1 km along the Tokaido road. On the main street, called Tokaido, there are a series of old well-preserved merchant houses that are well worth the visit.

We have prepared a detailed route with the best places to visit in Arimatsu, as well as several places that we recommend to experience the Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori dyeing technique.

Arimatsu Town Map



1. Arimatsu Tenmansha Shrine 有松天満社

Shinto shrine where the annual spring and autumn festivals are held. During the autumn festival there are three floats called Dashi (山 車): Hoteisha (布袋車), Karakosha (唐子車) and Jingu Kogosha (神功皇后車). The three floats are taken from their respective warehouses in different points of Arimatsu to the sanctuary. Each of the floats carries on the upper part mechanical puppets called Karakuri (からくり人形), each performing different representations. The three floats are designated as Tangible Folkloric Cultural Goods.

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2. Gionji (祇園寺)

Small Buddhist sanctuary built in 1755. It contains 33 stone Buddhas.

3. Nishimachi Float House (西町山車庫)

Building built in 1873, which houses the Jingo Kogosha float (神功 皇后 車).
This float was manufactured in Nagoya in 1873. On the chariot are three mechanical puppets (Karakuri Ningyo からくり人形) modeled by image of the Empress Jingu (a legendary figure), Takenouchi-no-Sukune (a legendary hero who helped the Empress), and a Shinto priest.

4. Kozuka House (小塚家)

Kozuka House - Arimatsu
Designated as a Cultural Treasure, this beautiful and well-preserved building was the residence of the merchant Kozuka, built in 1784. It consists of a main house, two warehouses and a tea house.
* This house is not open to the public.

5. Oka House (岡家)

Oka House
Designated as Cultural Treasure and “Important building of the urban landscape”.
This large building was built at the end of the Edo period and is the largest residence of Arimatsu. It consists of a main building, a workshop and two warehouses.

6. Takeda House (竹田庄九郎碑)

Takeda House - Arimatsu
Designated as Cultural Treasure and “Important building of the urban landscape”.
This was the residence of Shoukuro Takeda, the founder of Arimatsu shibori, and is one of the landmarks along Arimatsu Tokaido Street. The building is a typical merchants house, and consists of a main house, three warehouses, a tea house and the Shoin-zukuri style residence (書院造). It is currently a fabric and textile store manufactured using the Arimatsu shibori dyeing technique. The house is open to public for free during events such as the Arimatsu Shibori Festival.

7. Nakamachi Float House (中町山車庫)

Nakamachi Float House
Building that houses the Karako-sha (唐 子 車) carriage built around 1875.

8. Hattori House (服部家)

Hattori House - Arimatsu
Designated as Cultural Treasure and “Important building of the urban landscape”.
Built at the end of the Edo period, it consists of a main house, a guest house, a semi-detached house, a well and six warehouses. In this building you can see the fireproof construction techniques, one ofArimatsu’s badges.

9. Arimatsu-Narumi Shiborikaikan (有松・鳴海絞会館)

In this museum you will learn about the history and the process of Arimatsu Shibori.
The first floor is a store that offers various products made with Arimatsu shibori. On the second floor there is an exhibition hall where you can see fabrics with different patterns of Arimatsu Shibori, and where you will discover the history and cultural background of Arimatsu.
9:30 – 5:00
From December to March: Wednesday (Thursday, if Wednesday is a holiday).
From April to November: Open every day except certain dates specified.

10. Arimatsu Dashi Kaikan Museum (有松山車会館)

The museum provides detailed information about the Dashi floats used during the Autumn Festival: Jingu Kogosha (神功 皇后 車), Karakosha (唐 子 車), Hoteisha (布袋 車).
After the festival, one of the three Dashi floats are exhibited here in the museum by turns. A video of the festival can be seen on the 1st floor. Materials and other displays related to the festival are shown on the 2nd floor. You can also observe the Dashi float from the top.
Hours: Open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10:00 – 16:00
Prices: Adult 200 yen, Children 6 to 18 years 100 yen

The best places to experience Arimatsu Shibori

1. Susuzan (スズサン)

Susuzan - Arimatsu
Family business that has been cultivating its knowledge of handmade fabrics for more than 100 years. In addition to having the factory and the store where they sell their Arimatsu Shibori products, they also carry out different workshops. For more details check out this PDF.

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2. Arimatsu Kogei (有松工芸)
Arimatsu Kogei is a small workshop that offers the experience of making handkerchiefs with the Arimatsu Shibori technique. The workshops that are offered are mainly aimed at schools and small groups (max 10 people).

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3. Narumi Konsei
In Narumi Konsei you can create your own yukata with the technique Sekka Shibori (雪花絞り).

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Shops where to buy Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori goods

1. Marimomen

In marimomen you can find accessories and clothing with the technique of Sekka Shibori (雪花絞り).

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2. Arimatsu Shibori Hisada (有松しぼり久田)

Arimatsu Shibori Hisada
Towels, kimonos and yukatas (man and woman), Noren curtains, etc.

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3. Kobo Yuhataya (工房ゆはたや)

Kobo Yuhataya
Small shop with articles made with the technique of Arimatsu Shibori.

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4. aigaeshi (あいがえし)
Subsidiary store of Suzusan that was opened in April of this year.

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5. Yamagami Shouten (絞りのやまがみ)
Small shop that offers articles of clothing and accessories made by hand with the traditional techniques of Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori and the characteristic modern and creative touch of the artist Aya Osuka.

Visit the website of the shop

Visit the Aya Osuka website

Mejores lugares para comer

1. Mado Cafe – Guest House MADO (ゲストハウスMADO)

A guesthouse and a cafe where you can have a delicious midday menu.

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2. Bakery Dasenka Kura (ダーシェンカ・蔵)

Bakery Dasenka Kura
A bakery which sells handmade bread and pastries baked in a stone oven. The shop is located in one of the old Shibori merchant houses.
The “Arimatsu Shibori Bread” is a specialty of Arimatsu. It was proposed by a local high school student, inspired by the dyeing culture of Arimatsu Shibori, and has become very popular.

Shibori pan - Arimatsu

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3. Yamato Japanese Restaurant (日本料理 やまと)

Yamato Japanese Restaurant
Creative Japanese cuisine made with local ingredients.

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4.Jugemu-chaya (手打ちうどん 寿限無茶屋)

Restaurant founded in 1959 where you can savor traditional Japanese cuisine with a unique flavor. It offers udon and soba made by hand. The specialty of the house is Ume Oroshi Udon (梅おろしうどん) udon pasta with plum sauce and daikon (radish).

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Getting Here

By train
Arimatsu Station is about 20 minutes away on the Meitetsu Honsen Line from the Meitetsu Nagoya Station. You can also access the Meitetsu Honsen line at the Kanayama station (also on the JR and Meijo subway lines) or the Horita station. The Horita Meitetsu (堀田駅) station is a short walk from the Horita metro station (Meijo line).

General Information

1804 Arimatsu, Midori-ku, Nagoya, Aichi
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