How Imabari Towels Can Bring a Little Zen into Your Life

Imabari Tag
The unique Imabari quality label

From Japanese Zen to Marie Kondo, Japan has an image of quiet minimalism and a respect for self-reflection. When it comes to towels, things are no different. Japanese Imabari towels, which get their name from the country’s informal capital of towel making, are natural, practical towels that do exactly what they need to and carry a quality label.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or just need a more reliable partner for your daily washing and cleaning tasks, Imabari towels can help bring a little Japanese Zen into your life.

Here’s how.

A history of excellence

When you practice something for a long time, you generally start to get pretty good at it. The majority of towel manufacturers in Japan are based in the city of Imabari, where they’ve been working for over 120 years. There are more than 200 textile factories in the city, which account for around 60% of Japanese towel production.

A large part of the success of the towel industry in Imabari comes from its geography and warm climate. The area has access to abundant fresh water from the nearby Soja River, as well as the underground water of Mt Ishizuchi. The water from these sources is soft and pure, and contains very few heavy metals. Its unique composition is gentle on the raw materials used in towel production, so Imabari towels are naturally soft and gentle on the skin.

Imabari towel manufacturers have naturally faced challenges over the years, but this has only served to strengthen the industry’s core values. In the 1990s, when cheap towels began flooding the Japanese market from overseas, Imabari towel makers stubbornly refused to compromise on product quality. As a result, Imabari towels became known for having superior quality to foreign imports.

Natural production and traditional expertise

Towel making is a tricky process, and to make a high-quality towel you need to pay attention to small details. In Imabari, towels are produced in smaller batches and with strong attention to detail, and the focus is on giving them a soft finish without added chemicals.

Unlike industrially produced towels, which often use harmful dyes and artificial softeners, most Imabari towels use minimal additives to bring out the natural softness of the fibers. The high-quality threads, often made of Turkish or Egyptian cotton, are only gently twisted. This allows more air to flow between the individual fibers and makes for a softer and lighter feel, even after repeated uses and washing.

Even the make-up of the towel industry in Imabari is a little different. Most manufacturers are small and medium-sized companies, some with family histories stretching back to the beginning of towel production in the area. The long experience preserved in the minds of Imabari towel makers helps ensure that each towel run comes out looking great.

Stylish materials and designs

Imabari TowelsImabari towels come in a wide range of styles


Imabari towels are definitely worth a look if you want to buck the trend of plain white terry towels for something more stylish. They’re often dyed with vibrant colors, and show off both traditional Japanese patterns and new, more playful designs.

As you might expect from the Japanese, each towel is produced for a specific purpose. From bath towels through hand towels to washcloths, each has the perfect size and absorbency for its task.

Imabari towels are also known for using a unique set of fabric weaves. Often they use a gauze weave, which gives them a lightweight feel. Although they can feel thin, the high-quality materials ensure the amazing absorbency you expect from a superior towel.

Want to learn more about the weaves used in towel making? Check out our Fiberologies 101 blog post on common weave types!

Finally, we’ve already written about the advantages of natural bast fibers, and it’s good to note that Imabari towels use fibers that blend cotton with natural materials such as hemp, ramie, and linen. Towel makers use the unique properties of these fibers to create towels tailored for tasks such as soaking up liquids or exfoliating skin.

A unique quality certification

When it comes to quality assurance, the Imabari region has developed its own set of stringent standards for towels that wish to carry the prestigious red, blue and white Imabari label.

As well as meeting or exceeding standards for things such as fiber threading, color fastness, strength, and the quality of raw materials, Imabari towels must pass a unique “five-second rule” absorbency test. To qualify, towels must soak up liquids fast enough to be fully submerged in water after just five seconds. This high absorbency is only possible when a towel uses premium materials and no artificial softeners.

The testing process is designed to make sure that towels perform well both when you first buy them and throughout their lifetime.

Count me in!

If you’re wondering whether those musty, worn terry towels in your bathroom could be replaced with a bit more style and Japanese quality, we recommend giving Imabari towels a closer look. Next time you’re shopping online, be on the lookout for towels that carry the official Imabari label. Keep an eye on the Fiberologies website, too, for some exciting news that will make it easier to find incredible Imabari towels in the USA!

Want to know more? Let us know if you have any questions about Imabari towels in the comments!


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  • I love how you mentioned that Imabari towels come in different vibrant colors, and are used for a variety of purposes, such as bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths. I’m planning to get bath towels as a present for my friend who’s getting married soon. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find Imabari towels of good quality that I can gift her.

    Anna Collins
  • Brilliant! Thanks for doing all of the homework for the rest of us and distilling it into a really compelling story. Can’t wait to get our towels!

    Larry Weiss MD

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