• Magical Power of Sanada Himo

    Arts & Craft_Story

    Magical Power of Sanada Himo


Origin of Sanada himo and the legendary samurai Yukimura Sanada
Japan is a nation that elevated the technique of braiding from a utility to an art form. One of the country’s most iconic braid is the Sanada himo, or Sanada braid.

Unlike a typical braid, the Sanada himo is woven, composed of warp and weft thread, the composition of which is fundamentally different from that of a regular braid, making it a cord distinguished from all others.

According to history, Japanese warlords made good use of Sanada himo. When legendary samurai Yukimura Sanada and his father Masayuki were kept confined in Kishu Kudoyama, vassals weaved and sold the cords to make money for the feudal family. Word of the strength of braid ‘made by Sanada’ spread, and hence the name the 'Sanada himo'.

The cord was durable and multi-functional the Sanada family used it for binding the handles of swords and attaching them their obi, fixing armour and harnesses, and for carrying luggage.

The influential 16th century figure and tea ceremony master Sen no Rikyu adopted the use of the Sanada himo and using it to fasten his paulownia boxes containing ceremonial tools. Women from warrior families started using the braid, as a tasuki, a cord used to hold up kimono sleeves and as obijime, a decorative string that kept the kimono sash in place.

The Sanada himo was eventually adopted as an accessory for samurai to express their style. With the Meiji era’s sword abolishment, the use of swords disappeared, so did the use of Sanada himo in a man’s daily life. However Sen no Rikyu’s, style of binding paulownia boxes remained, centring the braid in the world of ceramics, antiques, and tea ceremony. By binding the paulownia box protecting the object within, the Sanada himo holds a sense of power, adding dignity and reverence to what it holds.

Rediscovering the beauty of the Sanada Himo.
I want to incorporate the magical power of Sanada himo into everyday men’s clothes, so, 10 years ago, I visited the workshop of Tosai Ichimura to learn more. A now 89-year-old Sanada himo craftsman, Ichimura inherited his family’s craft during the Taisho era (1912-1926), and he remains the only Sanada himo artisan in the Kanto region.

Ichimura’s work is highly respected by renowned masters of the tea ceremony or ceramics world, who use his pieces to fasten the paulownia boxes containing tea ceremony wares. His pieces were even delivered to the Imperial family.

Rediscovering the beauty of the Sanada Himo, I don’t feel a sense of sentimentality. I simply want to utilize this brilliant material born from Japanese ingenuity and sensitivity that transcends the times and trends for everyday fashion, thus also paying homage to its heritage.

If today’s clothing industry could show the raison d’être of this woven cord and inspire the contemporary uses, I believe its craft can expand and flourish in modern times, as it once did.

Through my clothing label, I want to showcase Sanada himo as the practical, premium, priceless Japanese material it is. For example, my Pirate Pants utilize Ichimura’s Sanada himo as the second waist belt. It’s not only decoration but to bring the wearer a higher sense of value by sealing the pants with Ichimura’s energy and magic. I want wearers to absorb the virtue of Sanada himo by wearing it closer to their bodies, bringing Sanada himo into modern times and integrating its authentic power into our daily lives.

Yoshiyuki Ogata
Founder & Creative Director

Excerpts taken from

Arts & Craft_