October 13, 2020

The World of Chirimen Hand-Sewing Craft by Nobuko Naito

Written by Kumiko Toya

Nobuko Naitoa popular creator of Chirimen crafts, lives in a quaint traditional-Japanese style home in Himeji, Hyogo. The annex to the main building is her spacious atelier which Naito fills with Chirimen art of dolls, animals, flowers, ornaments and decorations.

house and atellieHer home and the entrance to the atelier 

What is Chirimen?

"Chirimen" is traditional Japanese silk fabric with a slightly creped structure for Kimono. The craft of Chirimen transforms mere scraps of fabric into adorable, hand-sewn dolls and ornaments. Genuine Chirimen is made of silk, but today, Chirimen of rayon and nylon is more common. 

Her art is known for its charming designs that look full of life and make your heart warm. She explains,  "I love cute things. And I enjoy making those around me smile. That’s why I’m a stickler for creating cute things that provide happiness to those around me." 

When something inspires her, she takes time to study the item thoroughly before she starts cutting fabric to create the Chirimen art. "Designing the parts that you cannot see is the most difficult, such as inside of a flower," she says. "So I try to study things daily.  Because p
aying attention to parts that are hidden will add delicacy and subtle sophistication to your pieces."


flowers closeup

Before retiring recently, Nobuko Naito had been a popular teacher of Chirimen craft. She had her own love of learning and inspired students with her passion for the art of Chirimen. Her class was always packed with students who were attracted by the art and the amicable character of her.


Some former students told us that they went to class just to talk with Mrs. Naito, not getting any work done in class!  (Their defense is that they would make the Chirimen project at home later.) 

Mrs NaitoNobuko Naito at her atelier

fabric 6

She designs fabric to make her Chirimen arts

Naito's commitment to fabric is strong. She purchases old silk kimonos from brokers to use the fabric. She also works with silk-dye craftsmen to have them create the fabric of specific colors and textures. 

original fabricSilk fabric designed by Naito

old kimono 2
Old silk kimonos

We are sharing some of her Chirimen arts from her atelier.

A girl in red kimono

Flower buds

Carp shaped drawstring bags

Babies in a baby carriage


tiger and bunny
A tiger and a bunny

dog and boyA Komainu (guardian dog) and a little boy on its back.

dream catcher"Dreamcatcher"
Naito once had a chance to look at a Dreamcatcher created by a Native American and got inspired. Her design was highly regarded and the dreamcatcher is now included in her instruction books.

kids playingChildren playing with a ball

boy and girlA girl and a boy of Shichi-Go-San (a day for three- and seven-year-old girls and five-year-old boys to celebrate the growth and well-being.)

Tai (sea bream) is associated with the Japanese word medetai, which means “celebratory.”

catDecorations on a shelf in the entryway to her atelier

Hinamatsuri ornament
(Hinamatsuri, or Doll Festival, is celebrated on March 3 to celebrate girls' happiness, growth, and good health.)

catsCat Hinamatsuri dolls


In her 50 year career as Chirimen creator, Nobuko Naito has worked to recover traditional techniques and designs while also proactively seeking to create pieces that are more rooted in modern culture. Along with holding many exhibitions in Japan, the exhibitions she had held in the United Kingdom have also proven to be successful. She has also had numerous TV appearances and writing credits to her name, and also held the "Nobuko Naito Chirimen Classroom" across Japan.

Learn Chirimen with Nobuko Naito!

course contents chirimen

Japanese Creations' Chirimen Course is designed by Nobuko Naito. Learn Chirimen through making five motifs that are practical and elegant.LEARN CHIRIMEN


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