What are Imabari Towels?

Imabari City, located in the northern region of Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku Island, is home to the largest towel producing industry in Japan. Blessed with mild climate and an abundance of soft water, Imabari has thrived as Japan’s leader in fine-quality towel production for 120 years. Imabari Towels are renown throughout Japan as towels of the finest quality.

Authentic Imabari Towels are marked with the red, white and blue Imabari Towel Japan tag, proving certification by the Shikoku Towel Association, which requires all towels to be put through strict 12-point test regarding categories such as absorption, durability, and color-sustainability. The most famous test is the `5-Second Absorbency Rule’ which require towels (prior to first-time wash and after being washed 3 times) to sink completely within 5 seconds when placed in water.

There are over 100 towel factories in Imabari City, and each manufacturer is required to have towel materials meet the rigid standards in order to be authorized as an official Imabari Towel. As a proud Japan-brand, Imabari Towels are a symbol of uncompromised quality, craftsmanship, tradition, and made-in-Japan excellence.

The specialty of the Imabari Towel brand is not the type of cotton used, nor is it a high-tech weaving machine. Cotton is imported from all over the world, as it is difficult to farm cotton in Japan. The Imabari Towel industry excels at spinning (the process of converting cotton into thread) and weaving towels in a process which brings out the best, natural characteristics of cotton.


Translated to English, Saki-Zarash Saki-Zome means ‘pre-bleach, pre-dye’. It refers to the bleaching and dying of thread before the weaving process. Typically, towels are woven, bleached, then dyed, but in the case of (most) Imabari Towels, towels are bleached, dyed, then woven into towels. Saki-Zarashi Saki-Zome takes more time, labor, and water and is less cost-effective, but the meticulous process results in a softer, more absorbent towel. 

Cheaper towels are finished using fabric softeners and other artificial chemicals, and while they may feel soft to the touch, the towels are not as absorbent. 


Another specialty of the Imabari Towel brand is the Jacquard weaving. Designs and patterns are woven into the towels, as opposed to dying and printing designs onto the towels after they have been woven. Towels of lower quality can fade and bleed in color, but Imabari Towels are more durable and color-sustaining, with higher natural softness and absorbency, as a result of Saki-Zarashi Saki-Zome and Jacquard weaving.

It is this expert craftsmanship and the unwillingness to compromise quality to cut costs which make Imabari Towels recognized as a proud Japan Brand. 

There are many fake and imitation Imabari Towels in the marketplace today, but please rest assured that all towel products sold at IORI are carefully selected, 100% authentic Imabari Towels made in Japan. Operating 24 retail store locations nationwide, we are Japan’s most trusted source of Imabari Towels. Please enjoy the quality selection IORI has to offer.

IORI Imabari Towels
Imabari Towel SAKURA PK