Chinese Goods Stores

Dear readers, this post is in progress, and is a repository of links and vocabulary for finding affordable fabrics and calligraphy supplies from China, similar to the Japanese Goods Stores post. Please expect it to be fully complete in a month or so, it will slowly grow from today forward.



This is one of the main online shopping malls in China. Some people have managed to ship directly, but for me, somehow my phone number was used by another for account abuse, so I use a shipping proxy.
This is a proxy service for Chinese shopping, it’s also very nice because the search is in Chinese, so you can ask for what you want precisely.
This is probably the most popular proxy service, they have a very sophisticated site. I have used them and been satisfied.

Reliable Stores

These are stores I have personally purchased from.

Forest Fabrics
This is a Hong Kong Fabric store that sells high quality chemical fiber kinran.
This is an etsy store that sells some of the softest, highest quality hemp I’ve ever purchased.
This is an aliexpress store that sells digitally printed ramie. The ramie is soft and light, good for summer. The printing was slightly off grain but still very lovely and in period for song dynasty China.
New Art Silk
This is a silk seller on taobao that I have ordered rinzu from.

Interesting Stores

These are stores that I have not purchased from but look very promising.

This taobao store sells kimono bolts.
Fine ramie/linen store.
Silk broker that sells a lot of traditional silks.

Useful Vocabulary


Hemp: 大麻, 汉麻
Ramie: 苎麻
Silk: 绡,丝
“Real” Silk: 真绡

Bast fibers in particular are hard to distinguish, often something listed as 汉麻 will turn out to be ramie and not hemp. I think there’s a difficulty because 大麻 is a restricted word on taobao and aliexpress, so 汉麻 is often used to “get around” this restriction. Sometimes you will see 汉麻in the title and 苎麻 in the material section.

A lot of chemical fibers get listed under “silk” so please be careful if you are interested in mulberry silk.


These are terms that seem to produce fruitful results in search engines, not necessarily the pinnacle of good grammar or spelling.

Weave: 织
Gauze: 纱布,丝(for silk, see below)
Jacquard: 提花
Brocade: 锦缎
Habotai: 平絹 (flat silk), 真丝电力纺 (electric spun silk tabby)

Silk Gauze: 真丝绡, 真绡纱
Silk Jacquard: 提花真绡
Silk Jacquard Gauze: 提花真丝绡, 提花真绡纱
Silk Brocade: 锦缎真绡

Modern Chinese terms for Ancient Weaves

Han qi汉绮 tabby patterned with warp floats
jialuo假罗open tabby (‘mock leno’)
jin polychrome compound warp-faced tabby or twill
juanplain tabby
qitabby patterned with twill
qirong jin,
rongquan jin
jin patterned with pile warp
qiwen juan畦纹绢warp rep
shaopen tabby
wenluo纹罗patterned gauze
From Pattern and Loom by John Becker

Example Searches

I cannot use taobao itself, because my phone number is somehow tied to someone else’s account abuse, so I use a proxy that allows chinese searches.

Jacquard Gauze Silk
Plain White Cloth (Gives interesting results)
Kimono Fabric

Shibuzumi, Persimmon Ink Paint

I have a bamboo fence in my front yard, and during covid it got pretty gray and worn out looking. Coating it with oil helped it weather the elements, but it did not look very attractive.
I had wondered for a long time about traditional outdoor pigments in Japan. I had seen references to a black paint for castles, and Ishiyama and I had discussed what exactly it might be. There’s a shortage of eco-friendly outdoor paints; most of the worst finishes I use are all outdoor. So I set out to do some research, and discovered shibuzumi / 渋墨、persimmon ink paint.

Shibuzumi was used to paint the castles of Japan in the Edo period, as well as some of the walls and faces of houses and storefronts throughout the cities. It is a mixture of bengala, pine soot, and kakishibu/persimmon tannin.

It is sticky, and comes off a bit when you rub against it, so it is not ideal for something interior like furniture. It was used to paint floors and I did find instructions on how to do it, but it seems like it would be very messy and rustic.

The exact origin of the paint, and how far back it was used, I could not find. This is an area that merits some further research. Many of the existing pre-Edo castles have been renovated if they survived, so one would have to look through era scrolls and paintings to see if the castles were painted black.

Making Shibuzumi

You can actually order shibuzumi from, or the manufacturer’s website directly. However, and I learned this the hard way, Rakuten and other forwarding services cannot ship the paint to the US because of customs restrictions.

But what you can ship are the ingredients to make the paint. I imagine many of these ingredients or their equivalents can be found outside of Japan. At the time, I ordered during the COVID crisis and shipping prices were fluctuating wildly and Rakuten kept sending out 50% off coupons, so I didn’t worry too much about the price for a small project. For a large project, sourcing locally would probably be ideal. Persimmon tannin and persimmon tannin powder are both widely available in the states, and the closest thing to pine soot is probably what we would call “lampblack”. Iron oxide can be found from dyer’s websites if not somewhere else.

Shopping List

  1. Pine Soot / Matsu Kemuri /松煙 (Pine Soot)
  2. Bengala / ベンガラ 弁柄 (Iron Oxide)
  3. Kakishibu / 柿渋
  4. Perilla, linseed or another plant oil. I used Tried & True’s Danish Oil, which is hydrogenated to keep it from going rancid, but still nontoxic. I remember reading that the Japanese use perillia oil mainly because of the lack of availability of other finishing oils like linseed, which has a superior chemical composition but is not cultivated in Japan as much.
  5. Clear Alcohol, of some form. The traditional recipe uses shochu, because it’s cheap. I had everclear on hand for dissolving wood finishes, so I used that. I don’t remember exactly how much I used, because I used it reactively to dissolve the pine soot.


I really recommend you mix this outside, somewhere black or dirt, like your driveway or lawn. Wear a mask, there’s a lot of fine powders, and gloves.
The container you use to mix the paint is is going to be permanently covered in ink soot that won’t come out, so something cheap and disposable is recommended for that as well.

I got my recipe from here, and the author has pictures of their own process as well.


  • 750g Pine Soot
  • 300g Bengala
  • 50ml Linseed/Perillia Oil
  • 700ml Water
  • 1 cup of cheap clear alcohol, dilute if high proof


  • Dissolve the pine soot in the alcohol (diluted if high proof). Basically, you want a thick paste. Try adding a bit gradually and stirring, then adding some more. The alcohol should dissolve the clumps of pine soot.
  • Add the kakishibu. You may need to add more water if you just bought kakishibu powder.
  • Add the bengala. The amount of bengala you add determines how red your paint is, so if you want a more brown paint, then you need to add more.
  • Add the oil. Mix thoroughly.
  • Your paint is ready! Take it out to your surface and apply it. Because of the alcohol in the paint, you may want to use a natural hair brush. Get a cheap brush, because it will not wash out.


This was a very messy process, so I’m glad I mixed it outside. I also noticed that my paint, which I mixed in batches, was slightly unevenly colored, with more brown in some places than others. With a few coats, it evened out, but if I was doing this on a something more important than a garden fence, I might have been alarmed.

Eventually, I got a very black fence, which is what I wanted. Once it dried, I covered it in a few layers of danish oil. The paint held up decently for one winter, but clearly needed to be repainted. Because I was ill, I didn’t have the chance to repaint it, and after two years, it really did not look very good at all, and I took the fence down because it had deteriorated. It seems like the kind of coating that needs a lot of upkeep, but if you have a castle, that’s probably not a big deal.

Overall, I didn’t think it was worth the cost and trouble for my application, but it was fun to try a historical method.

References & Further Reading

Japanese Goods Stores

Japanese goods are hard to find in the US, though they are increasingly becoming more available. When I was starting my kit, I had no idea where to purchase many items I needed. I set up a forwarding service and used my meager command of the japanese language, along with google translate, to get started. 

I have personally purchased from most of these stores, so I can recommend them with confidence. However, not all of these stores sell exclusively pre-1600 items, so do your research before buying.

What I learned, bought, and used started a practice of integrating traditional tools and garments into my everyday life. While not all of these items are useful to the re-enactor, most are of at least passing interest. 

I have found many traditional items are wonderful in daily living, such as the brooms, futons, and tabi shoes. Many are a great compromise for camping, with modern materials and a traditional design. And some haven’t changed a bit in over 400 years. So many things just make sense, and are more durable and easy to use than their modern counterparts. 

Japanese Goods Stores

Sugegasa: Function, Form, History

A few years ago I purchased a palm leaf hat at T’gger’s Toggs at Pennsic. It served me well for three years, and I wore it religiously to summer events. It shaded my face, kept me from being sunburned, and made the hot days much more pleasant. I was grateful for its presence, and felt an appreciation for why such a hat was so ubiquitous among Japanese farmers.

Sugegasa: Function, Form, History

Woodworking II: Planing Board

Once the sawhorses were completed, I needed a place to chisel and plane my work. I based my design off of Covington & Son’s atedai, [当て台], which is a traditional japanese design for small spaces. I didn’t have access to a large wood slab like he did, as I constructed my board during COVID lockdown. However, a narrower board allows one to squat/sit on the board itself more easily if it is placed on sawhorses, almost like a cooper’s mare. Since my garage floor is very cold, and also because my board is a soft, light wood (port orford cedar), I decided to make a 9.5″ x 60″ atedai instead of Campbell’s 17″ wide board.

Woodworking II: Planing Board