⟨ Misc ⟩

Sense of touch passed on by century-old artisanship

SHINTO TOWEL from Izumi region of Osaka

Words / MIDWAY
Photography / MIDWAY & SHINTO TOWEL
Translation / Ian Tsang

除了氣味,我們五感之中的觸感同樣有助勾起回憶。猶記得初接觸到大阪泉州毛巾時,雙手觸碰到紗巾的表面,便有一份莫名的親切感;把大毛巾當作披肩使用時,更有一份安全感,這樣的形容並沒有半點誇張。當還是初生嬰兒時,常用來包裹身體的,大概就是那張軟綿綿的紗巾被了,我們一早就對那觸感留下一個深刻的印象。與此同時,在眾多的日常用品中,除了衫褲鞋襪外,由早上起床到睡前一刻,毛巾都是貼身的必需品;可是,它往往沒有受到應有的重視,更不要說講究造工了。事實上,一塊優質的毛巾蘊含了精湛的工藝和職人的一番心思。

明治20年(西元1887年),大阪西南邊的泉州地區居住的職人開始製造毛巾,是日本毛巾生產的發源地。泉州毛巾具備卓越的吸水性、高級的柔軟感和潔淨的觸感,全都是來自傳統「後晒し」工藝。傳統的毛巾製作會使用到澱粉纖維,以增加其耐用性,但是澱粉會影響毛巾的吸水性。於是,在織造後透過洗滌程序,可以除去纖維中的澱粉、油份及其他雜質,這就是「後晒し」的過程。這不但能保持毛巾的蓬鬆質感,也提供了更好的吸水性,增加獨有觸感。

 

位於泉佐野市的百年品牌神藤毛巾(神藤タオル SHINTO TOWEL),新一代社長神藤貴志先生希望保留泉州毛巾的傳統生產技術,因此充分利用當地職人的豐富知識、經驗及技術,並結合創新的意念來製作全新的泉州毛巾。在緊守傳統之餘,品牌也十分重視原材料對生態環境的影響,故此,在生產過程中採用天然糊劑,不使用化學藥品。神藤毛巾更考慮到現代人使用毛巾的習慣,從而改良設計及增加功能性,以追求更好的產品。例如,毛巾可在浴室使用外,還可以鋪在枕頭上或墊在會接觸到面部的被邊,或是予小朋友當作小毛巾使用,舒適衛生之餘,也方便隨時替換清洗。品牌透過不同的尺寸及剪裁,使毛巾轉型成披肩及領巾,打破大眾對毛巾的固有印象。近年,神藤毛巾在日本以至海外都得到使用者的擁戴,全是品牌對經典毛巾重塑的成果。

 

Apart from smell, the sense of touch, one of our five senses, can also help trigger memories. I still remember my first encounter with towels made in the Izumi region of Osaka. When both of my hands were in contact with the surface of the piece of cloth, I felt a strange sense of familiarity. When used as a blanket, the large towel even gave me a sense of security — a description far from an exaggeration. When we were still infants, our bodies were probably often wrapped by such a soft piece of cloth. Therefore, at such an early stage, that particular touch had already left us a deep impression. At the same time, among the many daily commodities, other than clothing items, towels are necessities we cannot live without in our daily lives, keeping us company from the time we wake up until just before we go to bed. Nevertheless, more often than not, towels have not been given the importance that they merit, not to speak of the pursuit of quality in production. In fact, each piece of top-quality towel embodies the exquisite artisanship as well as the care and thoughts of its artisans. 

In 1887, the 20th year of the Meiji Era, artisans residing in the Izumi district to the southwest of Osaka began to manufacture towels, making the district the birthplace of towel production in Japan. Izumi towels boast outstanding water absorbency, and are clean and elegantly soft to the touch, all thanks to the traditional art of “Atorsarashi”. During the traditional process of towel manufacturing, modified starch is used for improving durability, but it will also affect the towels’ water absorbency. Therefore, following weaving, a washing process is introduced to remove starch, oil content and impurities — a process called “Atosarashi”. Not only can this process maintain the fluffy texture of the towels, it can also enhance their water absorbency, and even give them a unique sense of touch. 

 

SHINTO TOWEL is a century-old brand based in Izumisano city. In the hopes of preserving the traditional manufacturing techniques of Izumi towels, Takashi Shinto, its new president, has made ample use of local artisans’ wealth of knowledge, experience and skills and combined them with innovative ideas to manufacture brand-new Izumi towels. Not only does the brand strive to guard the traditions, it also attaches considerable importance to how their raw materials might affect the environment. Therefore, in the production process, they make use of natural adhesive, without opting for any chemical products. SHINTO TOWEL also takes into consideration modern man’s habit of using towels so as to improve their design and enrich their functionality, in pursuit of even better products. For example, apart from being used in the bathroom, towels can also be laid on the pillow or on the side of the duvet touching the face. They can also be given to children as small towels, as they are both comfortable and hygienic. It is also convenient to change and wash them at any time. Through different sizes and cuttings, towels cross over to the realms of blankets and bow ties, defying people’s regular impressions on towels. In recent years, SHINTO TOWEL has been embraced by users both in Japan and abroad, testifying to the brand’s success in remodeling classic towels. 

MIDWAY  G/F, 132B Keelung Street, Sham Shui Po