Denim facts & MOMOTARO

The history of the industrial development of Japanese denim is shared between the artisans in Okayama. The local industry has been developing it from the Edo period (beginning in the early 15th century) until today.

Admiration of American culture 
During the 1960s Japan experienced a period of high growth highlighted by the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964. At the same time, the younger generations who were able to support themselves began admiring the American lifestyle and especially fashion statements such as jeans. As the desire to look cool by wearing jeans, just like their on-screen heroes James Dean or Keiichiro Akagi did, the youngsters invaded second hand shops looking for their very own pair of jeans. Meanwhile, the Japanese clothing industry began producing domestic jeans in order to capitalize on the increasing demand of denim. Yet, Japanese jeans still lacked the status of what was considered to be the genuine American denim.

Industrial foundation 
The word denim is almost synonymous to jeans. For a long time the capital of denim industry was the United States. The jeans manufacturers in Japan, whose numbers had risen rapidly until 1975 (especially in Kojima and Ibara areas in Okayama), were crazy about purchasing denim fabrics from the United States. While others were ordering their fabrics from abroad, a local weaver looked within and noted that Okayama had been the capital of Japanese cotton weaves since the Edo period. He realized the best denim in the world could be produced locally.

The origins 
In 1967, a dyeing factory in Okayama successfully developed a continuous dyeing process which improved the industrial production which was based on a traditional technique of dyeing natural indigo. In 1970, a dyeing factory in Hiroshima further analyzed the production of high quality American denim, developing the first domestic rope dyeing machine and improving the rope dyeing process of the time. The artisan spirit of the traditional techniques had been introduced into the modern world of jeans manufacturing.

Acceleration of domestic denim development 
Major cotton mills in Japan intensified their production to assure the denim material would keep up with the modern denim production.  A major spinning mill in Kurashiki expanded their spinning facilities to create a thick yarn count, building the first sample of domestic heavy ounce denim. This was followed by a garment manufacturer in Kojima producing the first model of genuine domestic jeans in 1973. After that, the demand for domestic jeans increased and several denim production sites were formed around Western Japan, especially at Bit-Tyu and Binngo areas due to the improving infrastructure of the textile industry.

After the 1980s the process of ring-spun yarn combined with rope-dyeing, which had largely been omitted by the majority of denim producers around the world, was still being used by the Japanese denim industry. The consumers’ preference had again turned towards the traditional genuine denim and the perfection oriented minds of the Japanese craftsmen would not settle for any less.

Momotaro’s story 
Momotaro’s story is one of the five major stories in the Japanese folklore. Loved by people of all ages it has been passed down from generation to generation. Generally it is thought that the roots of the story spark the fires of imagination linking it to U-ra’s Legend, which is also a myth around the Kibi area in Okayama – the area which has always been shrouded in mysteries.

In the present version of the story, Momotaro is delivered from a great peach that drifted down the river to be the son of an elderly couple. In the older version before the early Meiji period (1868 – 1912), Momotaro’s story used to be a story of rejuvenation. It tells the tale of an elderly couple who ate a giant peach they found and were rejuvenated regaining their youth. Their youthful vigor resulted in a baby boy, whom they named Momotaro.

The story of dreams 
The rejuvenation version the story of Momotaro was created to express the dreams and the vitality of the small island. This was a folk tale not only for children. Momotaro Jeans is also a story of dreamers who have been standing fast with their dream of spreading genuine jeans from Okayama to the world.

Momotaro Jeans Movie

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