Ryukobo-Tradition and Renovation of Japanese braid-making


The meaning of Kumihimo indicated in the film “Your name”


The animated drama film “Your name” (Japanese title “Kimino na wa.” directed by Makoto Shinkai and distributed by Toho) was a big hit in 2016. The film employed Kumihimo (a Japanese braided cords) as a motif, which Ryukobo produced on a commercial basis as a real product later. The story tells the switched life between Taki Tachibana, a high school boy living in Tokyo, and Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school girl living in the middle of the mountains of Hida. I was especially impressed by the words spoken by Mitsuha’s grandmother in the film—“Musubi refers to an ujigami-sama, a guardian god for a particular place.” She continues, “Tying strings together is meant to be musubi, and so is connecting people or the time goes by. Everything is arisen from God’s power. The kumihimo we make is therefore an act of God that embodies a stream of time itself. The strings come together to be formed, twist, tangled, sometimes return, cut, and again connected —That’s musubi, in other words, time.”


Kumihimo shown in the film “Your name”


Musubi derives from “musuhi” that can be spelled in Japanese word as 産霊(musubi), 産日(musubi), or産塊(musubi). ‘Musu’ literally means being generated, while ‘hi’ implies divine spirit, the Sun, or soul. The national song of Japan, kimigayo, has lyrics with ‘musu’ such as ‘koke no musu made’ (until the moss will be generated), implying that this world should be carried peacefully by then. A concept of childbirth can be inclusive in this sense as a life naturally generated.


The cords interlaced by a square braiding tool, kadodai, extends to upward direction.


Takamimusubi and Kamimusubi are the Shinto gods who are said to have created this world and appear in the Kojiki (“Records of Ancient Matters”) and the Nihonshoki (“Chronicles of Japan”). Takamusubi makes Amaterasu return to this world when she hide herself in Cave of heaven. Kamimusubi revives the life of Onamuji (Okuninushi) who were killed by his brothers. Although Onamuji has died after having crushed under a burning giant rock or caught in the cut notch of a big tree, his life is revived by Kamimusubi several times. We can understand through those examples that ‘musuhi’ represents the power to stay alive or the function to reenergize when our spirit is dying.


Turning and Twisting threads


The fire god, Kagutsuchi is also known as “Homusubi” (the god of fire), and the story tells that his mother Izanami gave a birth to him at the cost of burning her parts and lost her life. Her husband, Izanagi, gets angry and stabbed his own child, Kagutsuchi, to death. While Kagutsuchi is facing to death, many other gods are born out of him as if trees and plants were sprouting out after mountain fire followed by wild birds or animals grown with abundant feed. Japanese ‘musuhi’ could be similar to the legend of phoenix in the western world, where the bird dies however it’s born again, or regenerates many lives after death. A phoenix is a symbol of the continuity of life, in other words, a stream of life, as well as “musubi” (musuhi) represents the continued life and time itself.


The lease rod


The film “Your name” has focused on musubi of time, revival of the dead, and musubi between people, in which kumihimo has played an important role to connect the elements, musubi. The term ‘musubi’ can be divided into two meanings; ‘musu’ for being generated and ‘bi’ for beauty, namely the generated beauty has been represented too.


The lease rod is specially ordered by Shigeki Hayashi, who has carefully selected the wood color and so on without compromise.


Takashi Fukuda is quietly interlacing kumihimo on marudai, accordingly people and beauty must be connected together when the cord braiding is finished. After that people who have been fascinated with this beauty would be tied up each other, along with sharing their time each other. Well, the craftsman for kumihimo may, indeed, the artist who is performing the acts commissioned by god on charmed kumihimo.



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