THE JAPANESE DIFFERENCE
Towels play an integral part in Japanese culture. From oshibori- the hand towels offered to guests before eating- to their longstanding bath house (sento or onsen) culture the humble towel is a symbol of civility and cleanliness. Today, Japanese towels are known for their superior absorbency, compact size, and lightweight hand feel. These towels are consistently rated among the best in the world and lend themselves well to minimalist and small space living. Like Turkish towels, Japanese towels are generally lightweight and thin, but unlike the long, shawl-like Turkish styles, Japanese towels are traditionally compact. Because of their amazing absorbency, you’ll find you won’t need as much towel as you may think.
Our Japanese towels are made in the famous towel-making region of Imabari, which is home to over 100 textile factories that produce approximately 60% of Japan’s towels. At Rikumo, we work with manufacturers whose slow weaving looms still produce Japanese towels the traditional way.
HOW IT'S MADE
The natural softness of Japanese towels is the result of their environmentally friendly manufacturing process. Each Yoshii towel is made from 100% hand-picked "Shankar 6" cotton that is cultivated using minimal agricultural chemicals. This process allows the seeds to naturally separate from the cotton to avoid tearing any fibers. The cotton is then gently massaged down, puffed by patting and combed twice before being twisted into thread. To maintain its natural properties, the cotton is slowly and carefully bleached under normal temperature and pressure.
Because of the exceptional care taken with materials, you'll find these towels are fast drying and incredibly absorbent. Yoshii towels are available in fresh proportions that pack tightly––making them perfectly fitted for gym bags and luggage.
Kontex has been crafting high-quality towels since 1934. Incredibly soft and uniquely textured, each towel is made from fine, garment-quality thread that’s loosely twisted into a fluffy terry pile.
The delicate threads are then gently woven on traditional, low-speed machines to maintain the integrity of the thread. This process results in a level of softness that modern machines cannot produce. The resulting textiles are carefully washed with large quantities of fresh spring water from the melted snow of Mt. Ishizuchi, ensuring every thread is free from impurities.
See our tour of the Kontex factory here.
THE RIGHT SIZE
Washcloth - A small, typically square towel, used in and out of the shower for washing and drying hands, body, and face.
Hand Towel - An elongated everyday towel that is ideal for the kitchen or to dry hands and hair.
Compact Bath Towel - A universal all-purpose towel to dry the body after a shower or a bath. The compact construction of Japanese towels is designed to dry off the body and pair with a bathrobe.
Bath Towel - A large towel to dry and cover the body; in Japanese towel standards this is the closest size to the typical American towel.
FINDING THE PERFECT TOWEL FOR YOU
The perfect towel means different things to different people and may depend on your personal preferences and aesthetic taste. Regardless, there are some standards a high-quality towel should adhere to. A high-quality towel should always:
- Wick water away from your body and unto itself without becoming excessively wet and heavy (Japanese standards require that a towel sink completely in five seconds or less when placed in water, both when new and after 3 washes).
- Feel comfortable on the skin (whatever that means to you).
- Dry quickly so it’s ready to perform the next time you need it.
- Pack away easily without taking up too much room.
- Fit seamlessly with your decor and last for years to come.
- A good-quality towel should never: dry so slowly that it develops a mildewy scent, unravel or snag, shrink in the wash, or tear at the edges.
CARING FOR YOUR TOWELS
With the proper care, you can make these high-quality towels last you a lifetime. To clean, hand or machine-wash in cold water, using mild detergent or soaps. Avoid washing with bleach and using with certain soaps, facial creams, or acne medicinal creams, as their ingredients may cause discoloring.
To dry, hang in a dry place- their characteristic absorbency makes Japanese towels especially quick to dry. You can also tumble dry them on low or gentle cycle, making sure that there are no other articles of clothing with zippers or anything that may catch onto the pile threads.
The good news-the more you use them, the softer, fluffier, and gentler they become. Great for gently drying your hair or your body, Japanese towels are meant to be used and loved.