Types of Kumihimo

The Three Main Types of Kumihimo

There are three major types of Kumihimo (traditional Japanese braided cords): Kakugumi, Hiragumi, and Marugumi.

  1. Kakugumi has a square cross-section and is often used for obi cords and straps of kimonos.
  2. Hiragumi has a flat cross-section like a ribbon and is used for shoelaces and necklaces.
  3. Marugumi has a round cross-section like a rope and is often used for drawstring bags and bracelets.

The finished Kumihimo is tied to form a shape such as a flower, called a "decorative knot," and is used for various purposes such as Mizuhiki (knots used to decorate gift envelopes), accessories, and hair ornaments.

Braiding Stands

The main types of braiding stands (Kumidai) used today are square stands, round stands, twilled bamboo stands, heavy-duty stands, and high stands. Other specialized stands are also available.

Marudai (Round Stand)

Marudai is a Kumidai consisting of a circular mirror (upper board), a foot, and a baseboard. A string is suspended from a hole in the center of the mirror. This Kumidai can be used for simple or complex braiding such as the following.

  • Kanagumi: Cords used for crowns.
  • Marugenjigumi: Cords with different colored threads to express arrow feather patterns.
  • Hiragenjigumi: Flattened Marugenjigumi.
  • Yokakugumi: Cords with a core of octagonal cords braided like a cedar leaf.
  • Ontakegumi: Cords braided with a core of octagonal or Yokakugumi.
  • Karagumi: A variation of Sasanagumi to express arrow feather patterns.
  • Karagumi: A variant of Sasanami Kumigumi, which represents an arrow-feather pattern.

Kakudai (Twilled Bamboo Stand)

Kakudai is a braiding stand with a square mirror (top board), a baseboard, and a pulley to suspend the braided cord. It is used for cord braiding with a small number of balls. Still, it can be used in a variety of ways as follows.

  • Yotsukumi: Basic braid with 4 balls.
  • Hachitsugumi: Round cord with 8 balls.
  • Marukarakumi: Round cord with crossed braids.
  • Hirakarakumi: Flat cord using the same braid as Marukarakumi.
  • Kamogawakumi: Unique Japanese braid that produces strong twists.

Omodadai (Heavy-Duty Stand)

These are simple stands for braiding small numbers of flat braids. For example, when tying hair, braids are generally used. This is called Mitsugumi Kumihimo, which is made by crossing three strands of threads. The more complicated Kumihimo with more balls is Jyuuchigumi.

Takadai (High Stand)

In this style of braiding, the balls are hung on the frames attached to a large wooden frame in two tiers on the left and right and braided with a bamboo spatula in twill writing. The color of the threads on the top and bottom rows can be changed to create patterns such as the following.

  • Koraikumi: A dense pattern with a tight grain.
  • Yamatokumi: A pattern with different colors and patterns on the front and back sides.
  • Sasanamikumi: A pattern with a wavy pattern of bamboo grass and waves).
  • Kainokuchikumi: A pattern with a wavy pattern of bamboo grass and waves.
  • Kainokuchi Kumihimo: A Kumihimo with an open shell-like pattern.
  • Anda Kumihimo: A Kumihimo with a lattice-like pattern.
  • Uchiki Kumihimo: A Kumihimo with two sides of Yasuda Kumihimo.
  • Undachi Kumihimo: A Kumihimo with a Kora Kumihimo), among many other types of Kumihimo. It is used together with the Marudai (round stand).

Naikidai (Internal Stand)

A leaf-shaped board on which threads are hung is assembled by rotating it on a gear wheel. It is said to have been developed in the latter half of the Edo period (1603–1868). It is rarely used today due to its complicated structure.

Ayatakedai (Elaborate Stand)

A wooden frame is hung with arrow feather-shaped rods, on which warp threads (weft) are hung, and weft threads (warp) are inserted between the upper and lower warp threads. This flat braid is suitable for making a variety of patterns.