Gonohe’s Handmade Straw Hats

The baori is a woven hat that was developed by the people of Gonohe during the latter half of the Edo era (17th -19th century). The hat is made from straw so that when woven into shape it would begin to retain moisture. This would cause the straws of the hat to slightly expand, tighten, and ensure that rain would not pass through making it essentially waterproof.

The baori hat was used by the people of Gonohe for protection from both harsh sun and rain and thus were greatly treasured items. The hats were all hand made, a feat completed by workers carefully weaving them stitch by stitch. The frame of the hat is made using thin pieces of bamboo core, which is then bent to make a curve at the front and back of the hat. This curve was both aesthetically pleasing in shape while also providing the practical use of allowing a better field of vision.

Around 1965, other styles of hats and plastic products became more prevalent in rural Japan, causing demand for the baori to decline. But the art of making baori has continued to be passed down within the community even to this day, and in 2012 it was designated as a prefectural traditional art product.

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