How did Imabari come to be a center of towel production?
Encouraged in production by the lord of the castle, Imabari has been in the cotton industry since the Edo era. The quality of the water of the Sosha River contributed to the ne quality of the products. Finally, Nakamura Chuzaemon, who established Nakachu. Originally, towels were available only in white -until Nakamura Chuzaemon decided to dye the yarn before weaving the towels, which led to the production of striped towels and revolutionized the industry, leading to today's patterned towels. Today, the Imabari towel is known worldwide as a brand that respects the tradition of ne craftsmanship. Nakachu continues in the spirit of its founder, Nakamura Chuzaemon, pursuing innovation in design and in the creation of new products while maintaining its reputation for the highest quality in its products.
THE HISTORY OF THE IMABARI TOWEL
Seeds of raw cotton, which were brought in by the people from Champa, began to be cultivated in the warm western region of Japan.
In the 18th century, Yanase Yoshitatsu established a wholesale dealer system for selling shirakimen (white cotton cloth).
Cotton annel (Iyo annel) began to replace shirakimen. The manufacture of shirakimen declined, while that of cotton annel grew.
Abe Heisuke began to produce towels.
Fumoto Tsunesaburo improved the hand-loom used to weave shirakimen exclusively.
Nakamura Chuzaemon began to experiment with a towel-weaving machine.
And the initial stages of the Imabari towel industry were completed.
Double width cotton cloth (Hirohaba-menpu) replaced cotton annel.
Hirohaba-menpu went into production using the machine that had been used for the production of cotton annel.
Nakamura Chuzaemon succeeded in developing the striped towel, called “Bunka-ori”, which became very popular. And the Industrial Revolution in towel production proceeded rapidly. (In fact, Imabari came to be likened to the famous British manufacturing city of Manchester and was called the Manchester of Shikoku.)
The destruction of factories and machines in war.
Reconstruction. The Jacquard loom was set up.
Development of the towel blanket, and an increase in demand.
Imabari's towel factories and the quantity of its production become the biggest in Japan.
Increased towel imports from China and Vietnam.
Modernization of towel production equipment.
Computerized production line.
The Imabari towel brand comes to be known worldwide for superb Japanese craftsmanship, and the brand is extended into the interior decoration and apparel markets.