Habutae (a kind of woven silk fabric) (羽二重)

"Habutae" (habutae silk in English) is a kind of plain woven cloth with warp and weft yarns alternately interwoven. When the material is silk, it is called Kokinu. While an ordinary plain weave uses warp and weft yarns of the same thickness, habutae is woven using two thinner warp yarns for each one weft yarn so that its texture becomes soft, light and with silky glaze. Because of its whiteness with more than good feeling, habutae is used as the highest class liners for wafuku (Japanese kimono garment) and even as the fabric for formal dresses. Habutae represents all Japanese silk fabrics, as being said "the taste of silk fabric begins with habutae and ends with it."

History

Habutae is a traditional Japanese woven cloth, which is said to have originated in the early-modern times. From around 1877, research to improve looms was promoted in Kyoto and in Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture. In around 1887, production of habutae began in Kawamata-cho in Fukushima Prefecture, Ishikawa Prefecture, Fukui Prefecture and others. During the Meiji period, habutae was the main item among silk fabrics exported from Japan. It was vigorously exported to Europe and America, supporting the growth of Japanese industry. There were two kinds of habutae, one being for domestic market and another for export.
Habutae for export was called 'yushutsu (export) habutae.'