Paper robes (kamiko)


Paper robes (kamiko)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: All winter
***** Category: Humanity


paper robe, kamiko 紙衣 (かみこ) 紙子(かみこ)
Japanese Paper Clothing, paper coat, paper vest
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..... kamiginu 紙ぎぬ(かみぎぬ)

white paper robe, shirokamiko 白紙子(しろかみこ)
simple paper robe, sugamiko 素紙子(すがみこ)

vendor of paper robes, kamiko uri 紙子売(かみこうり)

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Learn the basics about
WKD : Japanese Paper, washi 和紙

The kozo paper is treated with persimmon tannin and, after drying, it is crumpled thoroughly, and then smoothed and tailored into wearable apparel.
© A Handbook on the Art of Washi:

The tannin would color the paper slightly reddish-brown and keep it impregnated against water for a while.

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Paper war vest (jinbaori 陣羽織) with tannin impregnation


Two kamiko haiku by Matsuo Basho

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

Dresses made of paper, kamiko 紙子,紙衣

Paper clothing was used by poor peasants to keep warm in winter.

Matsuo Basho might have used one of these warm robes from Shiroishi.
CLICK for more photos. Shiraishi paper

kageroo no waga kata ni tatsu kamiko kana

Second year of Genroku, Second Month, at Toozan's lodging
Oku no Hosomichi

heat waves
shimmering from the shoulders
of my paper robe

tr. Barnhill

heat waves shimmer
on the shoulders of my
paper robe

tr. Ueda

Written on the 7th day of the 2nd lunar month, 元禄2年2月7日 at a lodging with とう山 Tozan, a haikai friend of Boku-in 木因 from Ogaki, Sora and others.
One hokku of the collection 七吟歌仙, written at the lodging.

kamiko was a robe to keep Basho warm on the trip, but then he realized it was already warm and heat shimmers were around, so he could take it off and enjoy some warmth.

. Dresses made of paper, kamiko 紙子 - 紙衣 .

Preparing his trip "Oku no Hosomichi"
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

- - - - -

With more photos :
source : fukushoku

tametsukete yuki mi ni makaru kamiko kana

I will fold it properly
and wear it for snow-viewing -
this paper robe

Basho was not carrying much luggage and had to make do with his old paper robe.
All he could do is fold it again to show the proper pleads.
This is a rare glimpse of the man Basho, worrying about his proper outfit for a haikai meeting.

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Ok no Kobumi .


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In Osaka Kabuki, the main actor wears a robe made of paper, kamiko 紙衣. This does not flow naturally around the body and the actor has to make extra efforts to show a natural pose.
Kabuki and Haiku

GOOGLE : kamiko paper japan kimono


kigo for all winter

kamisuki, kami suki 紙漉 かみすき
papermaking, making paper (by hand)
kansuki 寒漉(かんすき)making paper in the cold
kamihoshiba 紙干場(かみほしば)place to dry paper
kamisukime, kamisuki me 紙漉女(かみすきめ)woman who makes paper

koozo sarasu 楮晒す(こうぞさらす)washing the paper mulberry fibers
koozo musu 楮蒸す(こうぞむす)steaming the paper mulberry fibers

mitsumata musu 三椏蒸す(みつまたむす) steaming tridend daphne fibers

Papierschöpfen von Hand

WKD : Trident Daphne, Mitsumata 三叉、三椏
used for making paper

. Tororo Aoi 黄蜀葵 and glue 寒糊 made from it in winter  
Abelmoschus manihot
More paper-related kigo

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


- - - - - Kobayashi Issa - - - - -

niawashi ya onnazaka oriru kamikotachi

well matched!
stylish paper coats
go down the gentler slope

Tr. Chris Drake

This wryly humorous winter hokku was written in the 10th month (November) of 1813, the year Issa returned for good to his hometown. In Issa's time there were two basic types of paper clothing for commoners: utilitarian winter outer robes and coats (mainly for people who couldn't afford expensive thick cloth robes) and fashionable decorated paper coats or cloaks (haori) worn not only for warmth but for display. Paper might seem to be a weak and fragile material, but these paper coats and robes were made from thick, fiber-dense washi paper and coated numerous times with a varnish made of persimmon tannin to make them windproof and waterproof, so they were quite popular in Issa's age.

In this hokku Issa displays his love of personification by writing directly about paper cloaks, not the people wearing them, as if the cloaks were alive and were the most important thing about the wearer. I think he does this to indicate that the wearers are infatuated with the elegant coats they wear and are interested above all in showing them to other people -- at the moment the wearers may almost feel as if they were their clothes. This is interesting, because the coats walk down a "female" slope, that is, the longer, gentler slope path from a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple (or both, since they were often built side by side) at the top of a hill or low mountain. The "male" slope is the shorter route, usually consisting of a long flight of stone steps going straight up the side of the hill. These paired terms are not directly related to the gender of the pilgrims visiting the shrine or temple, so the people in paper coats could be either male or female.

Issa says that the paper coats are well-matched, and by this he seems to mean at least four things: 1) the paper coats make their wearers look more attractive, 2) the wearers seem to have chosen the coats because they think it's important to look attractive, 3) the various coats go well together in a group, and 4) the coats are well matched with the path down the gentler slope. I think the fourth meaning may be Issa's main focus in this hokku. Dedicated pilgrims in traditional white pilgrims' robes or in ordinary commoner clothing probably tend to use the shorter and more direct route both going to and coming from the shrine or temple, or at least to use the shorter route when returning downhill, but the wearers of the paper coats use the gentler, easier path even when going downhill. This easygoing attitude seems to indicate they are mainly interested in showing themselves to others and in sightseeing -- especially in viewing the clothes of other visitors to the temple -- rather than in worshiping, praying, or meditating. The personification of the paper coats may be an accurate, shasei-based evocation of the religious atmosphere surrounding many of the visitors to the shrine or temple.

In addition to commenting on varieties of religious behavior, Issa, who linked True Pure Land Buddhism and haikai fairly closely, may also be indirectly referring to differing approaches to haikai. In his time it was common for professional haikai masters in Edo and other cities to wear stylish paper coats in winter, often covered with outstanding calligraphy or famous haikai verses or waka, both for esthetic reasons and to proudly display their status as haikai masters. Issa was not of this persuasion, and in 1816 he humorously wrote:

yo wa shimai kamiko niau to hayasaruru

the end of the world --
they say I'd look good
in a master's paper coat!

Issa's admiring students in his hometown area seem to have told him a stylish paper coat would perfectly match his status as a famous haikai poet, but this kind of praise seems ineffective.

source : kimonohistory.fuyuya.com

This is a picture of a commoner in a stylish paper cloak with calligraphy on it and with cloth around the edges.

Chris Drake

. onna-zaka, onnazaka 女坂 women's slope.

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .


- - - - - Yosa Buson - - - - -

hanken no shayoo kamiko no sode no nishiki kana

the setting sunlight
on the paper kimono sleeve -

Tr. Stephen Addiss

meshitsubu de kamiko no yabure futagikeri

with a grain of cooked rice
I fill the tear
in my paper robe . . .

source : www.rakanneko.jp

老を山へ捨し世も有に紙子哉 - obasuteyama 姨捨伝説
o o yama e suteshi yo mo aru ni kamiko kana

koko fuyu ya kamiko kiyoo to omoikeri

宿老の紙子の肩や朱陳村 - Chinese village of long life

實盛か紙子は夜のにしきかな - Sanemori

Katsuraki no kamiko nugabaya ake no haru - Mount Katsuragi

with a wish to take off
this Katsuraki paper robe
my New Year begins  

Tr. Ueda

source : books.google.co.jp

if I could only take off
the Katsuragi god's paper robe
dawn of spring  

Tr. Crowley

. Katsuragi 葛城 deity Hitokotonushi .   

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


shiwa ashi to onaji iro naru kamiko kana

now the same color
as my wrinkled feet...
paper robe

Kobayashi Issa
Tr. David Lanoue

becoming the same color
as wrinkled feet ...
this paper robe

Tr. Gabi Greve

Related words

***** Warm Things to keep you warm in Winter in Japan

***** Kimono, Traditional Japanese Robes



Anonymous said...

Thank you Gabi san for your study on Kamiko.
It is very precious research and explanation.

Gabi Greve / womens slope said...

niai shi ya onnazaka oriru kamiko-tachi

they really look nice !
so many paper robes coming down
the women's slope

Kobayashi Issa
Tr. Gabi Greve

Anonymous said...

makenu ki mo kamiko niau to iware keri

an indomitable spirit
suits paper robes...
they say

Kobayashi Issa
(Tr. David Lanoue)

Unknown said...

I don't really experience Kamiko robe.
I would like to wear it in my whole life.


Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

kamiginu, kamiko 紙衣

kami ginu no / nuru tomo oran / ame no hana

Matsuo Basho

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

tassha-na wa kuchi bakari naru kamiko kana

now the only vigorous thing
is his mouth...
paper robe

Is this a humorous caricature of someone else or a self-portrait of the poet? I prefer to think the latter. Paper robe (kamiko) is a winter season word: a thin, wind-resistant outer kimono.

David Lanoue

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

sono ki kara nara ka yo kamiko kiru onna

"From this tree on
am I in Nara?"
woman in a paper robe

Tr. David Lanoue