Katagami is the Japanese craft of making paper stencils for dyeing textiles.
It has been used as an elegant way to make decorative patterns on kimono, and designated as one of the Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Japan. (Mie Prefecture)
Multiple layers of thin washi paper are bonded with a glue extracted from persimmon, which makes a strong flexible brown coloured paper. Making the paper itself requires a high degree of technical skill from artisans. After drying, the paper is smoked for 10 days then set aside for a year. The papers are then ready for the cutting artisans who cut each one by hand, with a free-hand knife or a punch tool.
As the kimono is no longer our usual mode of dress, the katagami industry is facing a serious decline in demand. Since the Ise-Katagami is primarily a component in the process of dyeing kimono, this decline hasn’t attracted a great deal of attention. However, nowadays artists are recognising the creativity and charm of Ise-Katagami in itself, as something beyond its traditional use. As well, people are now beginning to make innovative use of Ise-Katagami for interior decorations.