The banners of “Konpira Kabuki” can be turned into a stylish bag! The one and the only “KONBAG” / Somesho Yoshino-ya (Nakatado-gun, Kagawa)

Do you know “Shikoku Konpira Kabuki” at Kanamaru-za Theater? It’s located near the well-known shrine “Kotohira-gu Shrine,” a.k.a. “Konpira-san.”
Kabuki plays are held here every spring, and many kabuki fans come to this theater from all over Japan.

Sanuki Nori-zome “Somesho Yoshino-ya”

“Somesho Yoshino-ya” is known as a traditional dying shop which uses glue made from glutinous rice.
This shop is located on Shinmachi shopping street (also known as “Konpira Retro Street”) which is west of Konpira-san, leading to the front approach to the shrine.
You can find this building close to the big Torii gate.
“Yoshino-ya” has a long history and has been making the banners for “Shikoku Konpira Kabuki” since its first performance in 1985.

What a colorful interior this shop has!
“KONBAGS,” which are made from the same fabric as the banners from “Shikoku Konpira Kabuki,” are sold here.
The fabrics for the bags are dyed especially for these KONBAGS, and cut for each one.
That means that each bag is one of a kind.
Also, you can make your own using your favorite combination of fabric at the workshop!

KONBAG Workshop!

Go and experience the workshop!
This time, let’s try to make a tote bag.
At first, you choose the base of the bag.
Every fabric is so colorful that it is hard to choose just one…, but this is the best part, isn’t it?

The parts for the bag handles…, so many different patterns to choose from!
You will get excited by just looking at them!
Please choose whatever pattern especially appeals to you.

I have chosen a pink base and blue handles.
“OK, I’ll go for this combination! This tote bag will be for my lunch box…”
Actually, the total ambience of the bag would be vague if you choose similar colors for both the base and handles.
Therefore, it’s important to keep a balance when making the choice of the handle’s color.
Opposite colors will often make a good match!

Are you worried that you do not have any experience using sewing machine, or have not touched one for a long time?
Do not worry!
The saleslady will teach you how to make the bag, give you all possible help, and 20 minutes later……???

The one and only! My own KONBAG!

DONE! I have just made my own KONBAG!
So my vivid and colorful tote bag has just been made!
This will look so attractive with simple clothes, and lunchtime should be great with it!

The solid technique of traditional craftsman

The banners, Tairyo-bata (fishing boat flags), Japanese curtains, Happi coat, oil-cloth covering for shishimai (traditional lion dance)……
All the products produced at Yoshino-ya are 100 percent hand-made.
Hitoshi Ono, a third-generation, certificated traditional craftsman, and Atsuhiko Ono, a fourth-generation craftsman, make each product one by one.
The technique is called “Sanuki Nori-zome (Dyeing with glue).”

I was allowed a special chance to watch the work of “putting on the glue” at this time.
The process is so amazing and breathtaking…!
The craftsmen put glue on the banners so quickly even though the patterns are very complicated.
This craftsmanship has been cultivated through years of devotion and training.
The portions covered with glue cannot be dyed, so this technique prevents the mixing of the dye colors.

This banner is being dried after the dyeing process.
The colors of the banners are so vivid under the sun!
After the drying, they are washed in water and completed.
Although most things are easily produced with machineries nowadays, this place is different.
The whole process is done by hand, from the beginning to the end.

So, KONBAG is not only a unique bag in the world, but also is special because of the traditional Kagawa craftwork that goes into making it.
Why don’t you make one for yourself, and feel the history and tradition?

Somesho Yoshino-ya
Address/286, Asahi-machi, Kotohira-cho, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa
Open/9:00 – 17:00
Parking lot/available
Fee/KONBAG workshop from 4,000 yen(tax excluded)※Advance reservations required.
Nearest Station/JR Kotohira Station on Dosan Line/Kotoden Kotohira Station on Kotoden Kotohira Line

Photographs and text by Megumi Yamada

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Written by

Megumi Yamada

Megumi Yamada

Megumi Yamada Although I was born in Kagawa, after graduating high school I spent time in America, Kyoto, and East Timor, and now live in Kagawa again. I’m currently rediscovering the beauty of my hometown. I love to draw and take pictures.


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