Japan House in Kensington has brought together a display of something most of us barely think about and probably have no idea is an art form – braided cords. Literally translating as ‘joining threads together’, kumihimo is characterized by its vivid colours and intricate patterns and is created by craftspeople who combine up to 140 hand-dyed threads, often made of silk.

The exhibition is a mix of examples of braids, the hand looms used to create them, and most interesting, the maths behind the designs and some very contemporary approaches to displaying braids.

One thing that surprised me in the showing off how little I know department, was that the heavy decorative braids on old military uniforms aren’t just decorative, they’re actually there to offer protection for the wearer — thicker layers of fabric without being too bulky.

There are a number of examples of the weaving machines, both traditional wood and some modern acrylic to show off the workings, but the main delight is getting to see the braid patterns and craftsmanship up close.

The exhibition is in the basement, although there’s also more of the display on the ground floor

It’s free to visit, and although you don’t need to book tickets, they recommend you do if making a special trip in case their busy.

The exhibition, KUMIHIMO: Japanese Silk Braiding by DOMYO is at Japan House until 11th June 2023.

You can book free tickets here.

The exhibition is produced by Yusoku Kumihimo Domyo (Domyo), a company located in the old shopping and entertainment district of Ueno in central Tokyo, which has been making braided silk cords by hand since 1652.

Exhibition Rating

★★★★☆

Japan House London
101-111 Kensington High Street, London
W8 5SA

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