Eirakuya Hosotsuji Ihei Shoten, Byodoin Temple shop
Text: A. Sasaki
Photo: Naoki Matsuda
Looking into the history of 14-generation of business devoting to cotton cloth
There is a cloth shop at the entrance of main street leading to Byodoin Temple. Eirakuya Hososuji Iheiei Shote's Byodoin Temple shop is has been selling cotton products such as tenugui (washcloth) and furoshiki (wrapping cloth) since 1615. Before they came to do business publicly, they were a dedicated merchant for Nobunaga Oda, a major warrior in the late 16th century. This was when they received a trade name of 'Eirakuya' and a family name 'Hososuji'. Since then, they have spread out to having 10 shops around Kyoto with many products full of unique ideas.
Eirakuya produced items mainly under 2 brands: Eirakuya-brand that is based on the classic design used in the Meiji and early Showa period (1868-around 1940s), and RAAK-brand that has been launched by the 14th owner with more casual and sweet designs. Uji Byodoin Temple shop has the most variety of products from both the brands.
In addition to tenugui and furoshiki, there are collaborated items with artists and various cloth items.
The number one popular item here is a collaboration tenugui of Byodoin Kumo (cloud, 1728 yen incl. tax) that had been made to commemorate the restoration of Byodoin's Hoodo (Phoenix Hall). It is beautiful art piece that can be put up in a frame instead of using it as a washcloth.
Machiya Tenugui from the Maiko series is popular throughout all the shops. They launch new design every year. The latest is Maiko's summer and Maiko's athletic meetings (each 1728 yen incl. tax). A new design will be coming out soon in the spring.
The best selling of large size furoshiki is Cha-dougu mon (design of tea ceremony tools, 3,996 yen incl. tax) proving that Uji is a city of tea. These large furoshiki will quickly become a convenient bag just by tying few knots.
There are many other ways to use furoshiki which is displayed inside the shop as an example. The shop chief is wearing one as a scarf, book cover, bottle case, tissue box cover, etc.
Daruma series with small daruma doll and Eedaruma with big daruma dolls has established its popularity among the RAAK products. Bonno Daruma (3,780 yen incl. tax) has a charming expression that brings out people's smile.
Even with new contemporary designs, their process in cloth making and dying techniques are kept to the traditional ways. The proficiency is still there to be admired.
Eirakuya Hososuji Iheiei Shoten, Uji Byodoin Temple shop