Places

Silk from Mount Hakusan

Natural Beauty Woven

Crisp edges cut across sky, outlining the fierce beauty of Mount Hakusan. Untouchable for half a year at a time, it is hardly believable that life could thrive in the mountain’s unforgiving shadow. Yet for over eight hundred years, the remote village of Ushikubi has done just that.

One of Japan’s three holy mountains, Mount Hakusan, with its high altitude and fresh mountain water, provides the necessary conditions for mulberry trees to grow and thrive. With crimson berries that contrast the fanning green leaves, these trees are an ideal nesting environment for silkworms. These master silk producers are Ushikubi’s salvation.

Raising the silkworms as their own, Ushikubi villagers have been spinning and weaving silk for centuries. In the same way the silkworms survive off the mulberry leaves, the villagers survive on the silk, and together they have woven an impressive reputation for skilled silk craftsmanship. Known for its durability, beauty, and breathability, Ushikubi silk blossomed from an intricate relationship of mulberry trees and silkworms to sustain life at the base of Hakusan.

Locals today continue to rely on the mountain for silk crafting, braving unforgiving winters to utilize the spectacular elements the mountain provides. The natural features of Mount Hakusan have long lent villagers the ingredients necessary for a full, rewarding lifestyle; in turn, its people have long delivered unparalleled skill in silk artistry, with natural beauty tracing each woven thread.

  • Ushikubi: A small Japanese village nestled at the foot of the Japanese Alps. Preserving time-honored techniques through weaving, this area is designated an Intangible Cultural Property.
  • Doupion cocoons: Where two silkworms spin a single cocoon together; these cocoons are only 2 percent of the yield of a sericulture crop. These rare cocoons produce high-quality thread for exquisite craftsmanship.
  • Reeling: A process too delicate to be handled by machines, this is where the cocoons are boiled in hot water. Each hand movement in reeling helps determine the perfect thread thickness, and combines multiple thin strings into one strong, twisting thread.


“In the same way the silkworms survive off the mulberry leaves, the villagers survive on the silk, and together they have woven an impressive reputation for skilled silk craftsmanship.”

Plan a Visit to Hakusan

Experience Nature’s Raw Form

Visitors to Nishiyama Silk can learn about the elaborate process of the eight-hundred-year-old silk traditions, witness firsthand the reeling of thread, and view the final, breathtaking silk products of Ushikubi, a designated Intangible Cultural Property.

Those who wish to encounter nature’s full power are encouraged to hike the mountain’s spectacular summer peaks. Originally associated with aesthetic rites and religious cleansing, the “White Mountain” provides panoramic views of the surrounding Japanese Alps while calming the often-clouded human heart.

Whether visiting Nishiyama Silk, where time-honored, handmade techniques are still utilized today, or absorbing the beauty of the mountain with every step on a hike, Hakusan provides ample ways to spend a carefree afternoon.