‘Some no Komichi’: Fabric-Dyeing Festival in Nakai, Tokyo


Exploring a new area with an old tradition… ❤

For the last 3-4 years I have been living in Setagaya-ku – one of the 23 wards of Tokyo. After spending a good deal of time here, I’ve become somewhat of a Setagaya snob, in that I genuinely think it’s the best place to live – my station of Shimokitazawa being low-key enough yet offering access to both Shibuya and Shinjuku in under ten minutes. The area around Shinjuku station is massive, and pretty grimey. For that reason, I’ve never ever considered living in Shinjuku-ku.

Last weekend, however, I ended up in Nakai in Shinjuku ward – a small station on the Oedo Line, with a little river winding through the area. Despite being labelled as Shinjuku in its address, Nakai is a far cry from the bustle of traditional Shinjuku. It felt more like a station in my own area of Setagaya, and for that reason I look forward to exploring more of the stations in this surrounding area in the future. I guess in hindsight it was stupid of me to assume all of Shinjuku-ku would be as built-up as its main station.

Actually, I wasn’t just in Nakai on a whim. I had read about an interesting festival that was happening there over the weekend. Decades ago, local dressmakers in the area would hang freshly-dyed kimono fabric over the river to dry. So every year, this neighbourhood celebrates its heritage by doing exactly the same – hanging streams of colourful fabric over the river and holding a small festival. I say festival, but it’s more like a village fete, with makeshift stands selling taiyaki (fish-shaped cakes filled with red bean paste) and colourful kakigōri (shaved ice deserts).

Many local visitors get in the spirit of things and dress up in kimonos themselves, so it was nice to walk around a new area and see all the different styles. I must admit that after living in Tokyo for a number of years, it all does start to become normal – so days such as this are good to remind me why I live here.


This is Nakai.


It’s pretty quaint.


Quiet too. Apart from the ding-ding-ding of a train crossing…


And the distant rumblings of an ageing Pachinko parlour.


Last weekend the whole area was filled with locals wearing kimonos.


Walking about the backstreets…


Window shopping…


And generally looking amazing.


They were in Nakai to celebrate ‘Some no Komichi’ – a traditional festival celebrating the dyeing of kimono fabric.


The river that runs through the town was decorated with hundreds of metres of beautiful kimono fabric blowing in the wind.


Even parts of the river that nobody really went to.


At the end of my walk I was feeling hungry. I spotted this shop selling melon pan…


Melon pan is a type of sweet bun covered in a thin layer of crisp cookie dough. (Their appearance resembles a melon but they are not traditionally melon flavoured.) This was the first time I’d ever seen a strawberry one though 🙂 

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