Behind the Scenes at a Dreamy Japanese Farm and Weaving House
The sprawling, ever-growing Tamaki Niime studio in central Japan.
Niime Tamaki didn’t have to move to central Japan to start her line of wispy, striped scarves, but it tells you a whole lot about her that she chose to launch her line in the geographic region where similar textiles were made historically. That’s because Niime doesn’t do anything halfway—including founding a factory. Since she opened the doors in the early aughts, the Tamaki Niime studio in Nishiwaki (about a three-hour train trip from Kyoto) has become a hub for the local community, where employees grow everything from cotton they’ll eventually weave to the fresh vegetables they serve in the on-site restaurant. Scroll on for a tour that will make you both wanderlusty and hungry.
Tamaki Niime and her furry studio assistant.
Not everything used in Tamaki Niime’s studio in central Japan is grown and woven onsite, but they’re getting there, says Niime: “We began to grow cotton organically in early 2014 with the aim of sourcing materials with 100% traceability in the future. Since the summer of 2014, a louët megado hand-weaving loom from Holland and a circular knitting machine were added to our studio.”
Tamaki Niime’s colorful textiles are made based on a style of cloth known as banshu-ori, but their version leaves more space between thread for a soft, fluffy texture. “We are a creative collective now. We dye yarns, weave shawls and fabrics, design, and sew everything ourselves at our lab and shop everyday. We think it’s a pretty unique way, and it's not like a normal apparel brand,” says Niime.
“With our vintage looms and knitting machines, we produce original fabrics by ourselves, which then are used to create shawls as well as other works,” says Niime, who has collected early versions of looms from around Japan and restored them.
But maybe the most charming part of this factory? The 50-seat onsite cafe, which sells tea and daily meals made from veggies in the gardens outside. “Our designs get inspiration from nature. We opened the Tabe Room to share the joy of food in early 2018 after we began cultivating our own organic rice and vegetables, like winter squashes and herbs.”
A stew and rice platter from Tabe Room’s seasonal menu.