History of the Matsusaka Coton
In the latter half of the fifth century weaving technologies called "AYAHATORI" and "KUREHATORI" were developed in the present-day city of Matsusaka. Matsusaka became a very important centre in Japan for fabric production due to the introduction of these new technologies. In the year 698 textiles produced in Matsusaka were commissioned as regular offerings to the God Amaterasu.
When Cotton originally from Egypt and India found its way to Japan in the 15th century, it became immediately popular among the public in Japan. It was found that conditions in Matsusaka were very good for production of this new material. This new material and the weaving technologies already in place in Matsusaka led to the birth of "Matsusaka momen" in the early 16th century.
The motif of the Matsusaka Coton
The artistic taste of the women producing this new cloth coupled with the skill of Merchants from Matsusaka led to annual sales in stores in Tokyo of 500,000 units equivalent to half of the population of Edo. The distinctive stripped pattern of Matsusaka momen which also became know as "Matsusaka jima" found its roots in a cloth called "RYUJOUFU" originally from Vietnam. Ryujoufu as the name literally suggests resembles the strong thin pattern of the veins running through the willow tree leaves. The thin striped patterns called "SENSUJI" and "MANSUJI" became the traditional patterns for Matsusaka momen. Even in present day when Kabuki actors wear a stripped kimono they refer to it as wearing a Matsusaka. Such is the powerful association between Matsusaka momen and the stripe.