Wasai (Japanese clothing manufacture) (和裁)

Wasai is the making of wafuku (Japanese traditional clothing) or the technique that is employed.
Wasai is an abbreviation for 'wafukusaiho.'
Until the Taisho period, "saiho" (sewing) meant wasai, but in order to distinguish between "yosai" (dressmaking), sewing wafuku came to be referred to as 'wafukusaiho' or 'wasai.'
In the present day, the word 'saiho' is a general term that includes wasai and yosai.
Saiho is also referred to as 'shitate.'

Characteristics of wasai
In the case of Western clothing, even if they are ready-made, clothes in different sizes are made according to the wear's particular body shape. Contrastingly, in the case of ready-made wafuku, with the exception of hakama (a formal divided skirt for men) and tabi (split-toe socks), there are only three standard sizes: for children, adult men and adult women. However, various sizes are made for the ready-made hakama and tabi. For special body shapes that do not fit the standard sizes of wafuku, clothes are made by taking measurements. With the exception of hakama and tabi, however, fitting wafuku to an individual is done during the stage of kitsuke (kimono-wearing). For the women's wafuku, the length of the hem can be adjusted by folding the cloth at the waist. The part that has been folded is referred to as "ohashori." Ohashori is not made during kitsuke for men's wafuku. For this characteristic of wafuku, which is not seen in Western clothing, when one is to buy a new wafuku there is less need to verify the sizes than in Western clothing. Also, unless the body shape differs greatly between the parent and the child, it is possible for the daughter to wear her mother's expensive wafuku, such as at her wedding ceremony. However, even if it is a women's wafuku, if a Caucasian women of Europe and America were to wear it the size may not fit, since she would typically be taller than a Japanese woman. For men or women, wafuku formalwear is made in a noble, dignified style; therefore, it is very expensive, and there are times when they bear value as traditional crafts and works of art. Wafuku for everyday use is made in large quantities at factories.

Jo (about 3.79m), Shaku (about 37.9cm) and Sun (about 3.78cm) of Shakkanho (the old Japanese system of weights and measures) is used for the unit of length instead of the metric system.

Tanmono (roll of cloth)
Tanmono is a general term for fabrics that are to become the materials for wafuku. Tanmono is a long, narrow piece of cloth ranging from 36cm to 72cm in width and a length ranging from 4m to 26m. Tanmono that are often used to make nagagi (full-length garments) for adult women are called "namihaba," which are 36cm in width. A length of about 12m of namihaba is necessary to make one nagagi for a woman.

Tools for wasai


Needles including 'tsumugi-erishime' (a needle used for blind-stitching the collar of kimono made with pongee), 'kinu-erishime' (a needle used for blind-stitching the collar of a kimono made with silk), 'momen-erishime' (a needle used for blind-stitching the collar of a kimono made with cotton), 'chabo needle (large)' (a somewhat thick needle for sewing cotton fabric), 'chabo needle (medium),' (chabo needle (short)', 'kinukuke' (a needle for blind-stitching silk), 'okuke' (a long needle used for blind-stitching cotton fabric), 'kokuke' (a short needle used for stitching cotton fabric), 'momen-nui' (a 3.6cm needle used for sewing cotton fabric) 'san no san' (a 3.9cm needle used for sewing cotton fabric), 'yon no san' (a 3.9cm needle used for sewing silk), and 'yon no yon' (a 4.2cm needle used for sewing silk) are used for wasai.


Thread such as 'kinute nui ito' (silk thread for hand-sewing) and 'shitsuke ito' (basting threads) are used for wasai.


A pair of fabric shears and thread clips are used.


There are measures that can measure in shaku, and there are ones that can measure by kujira-jaku.



Tracing spatula

Tailor's chalk


Kimono pattern for a sleeve

Kukedai stand (a wooden stand used for blind-stitching)

Sewing box

Clothes hanger


Official commendation of Technicians by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Once each year since 1967, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare judges technicians who have been recommended, and selects an outstanding technician, commends and presents that individual as a 'contemporary master craftsman.'
There is a classification of occupation called 'wafuku shitate and shuri shoku' (tailoring and mending) under a classified category called 'Profession in Apparel.'
Many of the prominent technicians in the trade related to wafuku, such as tailoring and dying, have been commended.