Japanese waist apron, Maekake, Anything

Japan Design Store original Japanese waist aprons

Japanese waist apron Maekake for modern life

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Tie a Japanese waist apron like a Japanese artisan!

Japanese traditional waist apron is called “Maekake” in Japanese. It is made of thick cotton canvas, and has thick long belt.

To wear Japanese waist apron, wrap the belt all the way around your waist, and tie the belt in front. When you tie Maekake, you feel that you become motivated. Moreover, Japanese waist apron can prevent lower-back pain.

In this page, we would like to introduce our original Maekake apron.
It is a waist apron. So, you can wear it easily.
By a collaboration with Anything, we realized to make a stylish Japanese waist apron.

A woman is wearing navy Maekake with her hand in the pocket

Japan Design Store original! 4 points

This time, we produce Japan Design Store original waist apron.

  1. Black and white belt

    Usually, the thick belt of Japanese waist apron is reversible color of red and white. However, we designed black and white belt. With this simple color, you can wear Maekake for every style of fashion.

    Black and white belt of gray Maekake apron
  2. Convenient big pocket on the right side

    It is not usual for Japanese Maekake. But our original waist apron has big pocket on the right side. You can put your smartphone, keys, or recipe memo.

    A man is wearing navy Maekake with his hand in the pocket
  3. 3 colors, cream, navy, and gray

    We offer 3 colors of Japanese waist apron. The colors are cream, navy, and gray. Most people imagine navy cotton canvas Maekake. This time, we prepare stylish 3 colors.

    Our Japanese waist apron does not have any patterns. Simple Maekake fits everyone regardless of age or sex.

    3 colors of Japan Design Store original Japanese waist aprons
  4. 2 sizes, short and long

    Our Japanese waist apron has 2 sizes, short and long. Short Maekake is popular for whom look for café aprons. Long Maekake has more artisan atmosphere.

    In this picture, woman wears short apron and man wears long one. However, it does not necessarily mean that short Maekake is for woman and long one is for man.

    In fact, a male craftsman of the studio of Japanese waist apron wore short Maekake, and female craftsman wore long one.
    Please select your favorite one from 2 sizes.

    A couple wears navy Maekake aprons

This is a comment of the representative of Anything, Mr. Kazuhiro Nishimura.

We get many offers from various shops. However, we only wholesale our products to whom understand the features and history of Maekake. Also, we only collaborate with the companies or characters who love our Maekake. I would like Maekake to a long-life product, not a short-lived item.

Therefore, the original Japanese waist apron was born with the wish of Mr. Nishimura and that of Japan Design Store.

Traditional and stylish! What is Maekake?

Maekake is a Japanese traditional waist apron. Many people have the image that the workers of sake shop or vegetable stores.

Japanese waist apron Maekake has long history. It is said that Maekake apron was born in Muromachi era, about 600 years ago. From Edo era (about 400 years ago,) people began to wear the Japanese waist apron when they work. In Meiji era (about 200 years ago,) Maekake became the shape of what we know now.

Maekake was once a sales promotion goods. Some makers distributed the aprons with their name and the shops’ name.
Japanese waist apron was very convenient item for workers. People wear Maekake when they carry heavy luggage. Also, people use the Maekake as shoulder padding.

Toyohashi city in Aichi prefecture was the No. 1 producing area of Japanese waist apron. Originally, textile industry was prosperous in Toyohashi city. During 1950s to 1960s, factories in Toyohashi produced 10 thousand of Maekake in a day, 2 million of Maekake in a year.

As the time passed, few workers need Japanese waist apron. As an advertisement, TV commercial became the mainstream. Then, the quality and demands for Maekake declined.

From this tide of times, Anything revived the high-quality Japanese waist apron.

Workers in Japanese waist apron maker Anything

The passion of Anything

Mr. Kazuhiro Nishimura established “Anything” in 2000. The name of “Anything” originated in “Enishi.” Enishi means “the bond.”

In the relationship with the craftsmen of Japanese waist apron, he became aware of the facing danger. He thought “if we gave up, Japanese Maekake apron would disappear.” “We should inherit this Japanese tradition to the next generations.”

Then, he started to collaborate with Mr. Masato Haga, who had the skill of producing Maekake with shuttle loom. Mr. Nishimura and Haga made numerous trial items. Finally, they revived the traditional Japanese waist apron.

Now in Japan, Anything is the only one maker which can produce Maekake apron from the weaving. Stylish Japanese waist apron inherited the valuable skill. The Maekake gets high reputation from overseas.

Examples of Maekake aprons in the world
Examples of Maekake aprons in the world

The last shuttle loom to make Japanese waist apron

To make a Japanese waist apron, craftsmen use very classical shuttle loom. To our surprise, the shuttle loom was created 100 years ago. The name is “N style shuttle loom” by Toyota.
Now, this machine works only in the atelier of Anything in Toyohashi city of Aichi prefecture.

Among the countless warp, the shuttle with weft goes and returns. The speed of shuttle is 1 going and returning per 1 second. So, the shuttle goes and returns 120~140 times per minute.

Workers need to exchange the shuttle once in 7 minutes. To make a Japanese waist apron, 2 exchanges of the shuttle are needed.

Classical machine is easy to be broken, but easy to be repaired as well. Therefore, people can use it for a long time. However, workers always need to make fine adjustments. This classical shuttle loom needs the eyes and help of craftsmen. Skilled craftsmen produce a Maekake.

Classical shuttle loom

N style shuttle loom, a continuous story from the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution began in Britain in 19th century. It brought about a revolution in the spinning industry, too. At that time, automatic looms were invented.

Swimming with that tide, Mr. Sakichi Toyoda invented the automatic loom in Japan. Yes, he is the founder of the worldwide car maker TOYOTA.

The Japanese waist aprons are woven by “N style shuttle loom” by Toyota. It was invented by Mr. Sakichi Toyoda in 1914. The working shuttle loom in the atelier was produced in 1949.
A machine invented 100 years ago is still working now. We can see the working loom only in Toyohashi today.

For its rarity, the workers of Toyota motor company come to see it. Craftsmen have saved and inherited the machine and their skill generation to generation.
Maekake has been produced by traditional manufacturing method. Therefore, it is worth to patronage it for a long time.

You can feel the long history and stories since the Industrial Revolution from our original Maekake apron.

Special texture produced by a classical loom

The cotton canvas of the Japanese waist apron is thick, tightly woven, and strong. Whereas, the cloth is very soft. Since the cloth is woven with the air, it is tough but soft. Strong but soft Japanese waist apron helps you in daily scenes.

As the sizes of thickness of Maekake, there are 3 sizes “No. 1” “No. 2” and “No. 3.” No. 1 is the thickest cloth. It is enough thick to suitable for the workers in sake shops or carriers.

Japan Design Store original apron is made of No. 2 cloth. It is middle thick. No. 2 cotton canvas has enough toughness and thickness as well as softness for daily use.

Carefully woven canvas apron is hard to be broken and hard to conduct heat. Therefore, you can use the Japanese waist apron in daily cooking in your kitchen to outdoor cooking.
The more you use the Maekake, the softer the cloth will be.

Selvages of the cloth do not fray. The reason of this is the special shuttle loom. The shuttle loom waves the cloth for Maekake apron in the size of Maekake. The width of fabric is just the same as the width of Japanese waist apron. The latest machine cannot make these selvages.
Please enjoy the original texture woven by the 100-years-old machine.

Selvages of the Maekake apron

The difference of Maekake aprons and usual aprons

Maekake apron has history. There are some reasons why craftsmen have loved the Japanese waist apron for a long time.
Just same as usual aprons, Maekake aprons keep our clothes away from getting dirty. In addition to this, there are some strong point of Maekake.

  1. Prevent lower-back pain

    Pelvis is an important part for human body. It keeps our body balance. Maekake apron wraps our pelvis all the way around. Therefore, it prevents lower-back pain. When we lift or carry heavy items, or repeat standing and sitting, the Japanese waist apron support our pelvis.

  2. Enough strong against heat and protect you from injury

    Maekake apron is enough thick. Even though it does not have flame-retardant finish, the thickness protects you from heat and injury.

    Camp, barbeque, pottery, gardening… your time becomes happier with Japanese waist apron.
    In addition, thick cotton canvas is warm in winter.

    A woman enjoys gardening with Japanese waist apron
  3. Easy to move! The exact width

    The width of this Japanese waist apron is superb! It is not too long, nor too short. So, we easily move with wearing Maekake. You can even dash!
    Therefore, Maekake aprons are not only recommended for women, but also for men.

As for its care, it is as same as usual aprons. You can wash Japanese waist apron in a washing machine. This cotton canvas is hard to lose its color.
If the belt become worn out by long use, the maker will repair the belt.

Pair of Japanese waist aprons can be a great gift for couples. It becomes more happy time for couples to cook at the kitchen with Maekake.
Also, simple Japanese aprons are good for costume of Japanese restaurants.

A couple wears cream Maekake aprons

“Fringe” Fabric of Japan and the world

  • Do you know that woven fabric is originally holy?
    From ancient times, fabric has been woven as a gift presented to God. For that noble article, people should not work on it to the utmost.

    This spirit is inherited to the manufacturing of Japanese waist apron. Both sides of the apron are just selvages. Also, the hem of the apron is called “fusa” or fringe.

    We can see the decoration of fringe in various Japanese fabrics. In fact, this fringe fabric is common way of decoration in the world.
    It is interesting to know the culture of fabric of the world through fringe.

Comment from buyer

This Japanese waist apron is unusual item in our shop. Most items are tableware or kitchen ware.

In fact, these Maekake aprons are produced in an atelier near my house in Toyohashi city of Aichi prefecture. A staff of Toyohashi city hall introduced me the atelier. Then, this collaboration was realized.

Toyohashi city had been prosperous for sericulture or spinning and weaving during the end of Edo era to after WWⅡ(about 200~70 years ago). At that time, many people around Japan came to Toyohashi to get stable job.

However, the textile industry gradually declined by cheap fabrics from overseas. Numerous fabric factories closed their factories.

In such a hard time, the father of Mr. Haga had an eye on the production of Maekake. Tough, soft, and strong Maekake got great reputations from carriers, sake shops, or lumber shops. In those days, they produced a hundred thousand aprons per a day.

By the way, the greatest customer was Kikkoman, the worldwide famous soy sauce maker.

So, the Japanese waist apron is woven the history of Japanese industry. I, as a buyer became a big fan of Maekake apron. Therefore, I decided to make our original Maekake.

Originally, Japanese waist apron is an item for workers. So, we designed simple and natural apron for daily use.

My most recommended color is cream. You can feel the texture of cotton canvas directly. Cream color apron is easier to get dirty than other colors. However, you can enjoy dyeing and make your own history.
(If you really would like to avoid getting it dirty, you can wear the backside of Maekake.)

Please remember and feel the romantic history woven in a Japanese waist apron. With the history, please make your new record on the Maekake.
That is my delight.

Caring tips of Maekake

You can wash this Japanese waist apron in a washing machine as same as usual aprons. However, please be advised the followings.

  • * Please avoid using softener when you wash.
  • * The Japanese waist aprons may lose their colors a little. Dark color aprons should wash separately with white clothes.
  • * As the nature of cotton canvas, the cloth may be shrink a little.
  • * 1 minute spinning can save wrinkle.
  • * Please avoid using tumbling dryer.
  • * All the products are handmade by traditional craftsmen. Please enjoy different individualities of each product.