Better to be heard than touched…?

Sensual sound of kinuzure

Let our imagination fly free while listening to this. 

What did you see?

A court lady taking off one of many layers of kimono…? Then you have a superpower!

It was actually Norio Arai, rolling up almost 13-metre-long fine silk fabric around one stick. You may have come across woodblock paintings or pictures of kimono stores, where dozens of rolls of fabric piled up. It’s the best way to preserve a long piece of cloth before tailoring it into kimono. 

This sound was so evocative that the Japanese named it “kinuzure”, which translates as silk friction.

I wonder what it was like 1000 years ago, when a noble lady customarily didn’t show her face. So he, who fell in love with her without actually seeing her, had no choice other than paying painfully acute attention to what was behind the bamboo curtain. He did that by listening to the sound of silk rubbing against the tatami floor; the texture of cloth, the scent of incense she had infused in her kimono, all of that combined could well have been more sensual than having a face-to-face conversation.

Kinuzure can still be heard today. When I’m putting on his kimono, wrapping the cloth around my waist, or walking in it, I hear the unique sound.

When Arai decided to take on his father’s textile factory and to venture into weaving silk kimono, he had a vision he wanted to achieve.

He started from standard silk threads that were available in the market. But soon he found himself unsatisfied. He tried dozens of variations in thicknesses and a number of spins. After countless trials and errors, he now uses his original, custom-ordered silk threads. 

“I wanted to achieve THAT sensation…you know? So I had to try different versions.” He rubs his thumb against his point and middle fingers as if he was feeling the textile in his hand. 

“I told him I couldn’t really feel that much of difference to be honest,” his wife says, laughing.

But he couldn’t be stopped. 

And she respected that.

Norio and Sonoe Arai

With the silk he searched for and came to find satisfactory, he makes kimono. And it sounds and feels good.

This Freedom Cloth, which are remainders after taking the necessary length for kimono. (approx. 13m) He and his wife kindly shared with WIsdom Toolkit.

See Arakei Orimono’s works

Arakei Orimono textile
Arakei Orimono textile

If you’d like kimono custom-tailored for you with Arakei Orimono’s textile, email me at Tomo(at)


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