Traditional patterns of tenugui (Hand Towels)No.2 Nakamura goushi
In modern Japan, we often play on words. For instance, June 4th read in Japanese can be played on words as such; “June” can be read as “mu” in Japanese and “four” can also be read as “shi”, which will together read “mushi”. And when adding “ba” after “mushi”, it reads “mushiba” meaning cavity. Hence, June 4th in Japan is the day for preventing cavities. “Nakamura goushi” is also a type of traditional pattern including such play on words with the letter “six” or “mu” in Japanese. The number “six” is included in the Japanese name “Nakamura”, between “Naka” and “ra”, which is “mu”.
During the Edo period, the public were forbidden to enjoy luxurious things and thus, very simple stripe and grid patterns were widely circulated and consumed. Kabuki actors who were also fashion leaders of that period would also use these simple patterns but added their names and house names for originality. This traditional pattern was used for the house of Nakamura family. This particular pattern of “Nakamura goushi” illustrates the house name of “Nakamura” using this simple grid style design. It includes five thin lines and one thick line, which totals six numbers of lines which would read “mu” in Japanese meaning “six” in English. Furthermore, it also includes two other parts of the name “Naka” written as “中” using the Chinese letter and “ra” written as “ら” using the Japanese letter. Combining the three parts together would present the house name “Naka mu ra”, together with “koushi” signifying the grid style pattern.