In 2009, UNESCO intangible cultural heritage objects added Ojiya Chiijimi fabric, which was the first time Japanese textiles had been given this status. This fabric technique had been classified as an intangible cultural heritage object by Japan since 1955.
The production of this fabric must meet specific conditions, including hand picking the ramie plant stalks, picking the fibers apart with fingernails, fastening the threads together, and hand weaving the fabric on back-tension looms. After the fabric is taken off the looms, it is washed in hot water and massaged with the feet. Finally, the fabric is laid out on the snow for ten to twenty days, where the sun and snow bleach it.
All of this takes place in the Ojiya region of Niigata Prefecture, known for its heavy snowfall and wide open spaces. This tradition of fabric making goes back to the 17th century and is used today to make summer kimonos.