The story behind Imabari Towels

Towels play an important part in Japanese culture. From, o-shibori – the hot hand towels offered to guest before eating – to sentō – traditional, high quality towels that are used in Japanese bath houses – the humble towel is more than a bathroom staple.

It’s no wonder then that Japan is home to some of the world’s best towel producers, with Imabari – a small city in the country’s south – the leader of this industry in quality and design.

Creating some of the world’s finest towels, manufacturers in Imabari, through a collective of the same name, are dedicated to promoting their product to the world, while ensuring that towels produced by members are made to strict standards. In fact, towel manufacturing is such an important industry for the city that there is a museum dedicated to the bathroom item.

Aside from their incredibly strict quality standards, there are four things which make the Imabari Towel one of the best in the world.



Towels are have been manufactured in Imabari for 120 years. Sixty percent of all Japan’s towels are made in the city (which has a museum dedicated to the art), which prides itself on traditional manufacturing methods and generations-old craftsmanship. The towels that are produced there are of such a high quality, that they have been exhibited in design fairs all over the world, including London’s 100% Design in 2014.


Soft Water

Water is extremely important when making towels, and the city of Imabari enjoys excellent water from the mountains which is virtually free of heavy metals. This unusually soft water is creates an extra soft, extra absorbent finish for towels made in the region. The quality and cleanliness of the water also means that the purest whites can be achieved, producing a pristine finish without the use of heavy bleaches.



Imabari towels have an extra-ordinarily high absorbency rate. In fact, disproportionately so. This is tested by placing a towel in a bath of water. If it doesn’t submerge itself within five seconds – an extremely short time – it won’t pass the absorbency test.


Pure & Natural

The colours of the Imabari logo are red, white, and blue, which represent the natural environment that surrounds the city: sun, sea, sky and water. ‘Naturalness’ is an important principle for Imabari towel manufacturers, who do not complicate the product with strong colours or patterns. This way, the quality and skilled manufacturing of Imabari’s craftspeople take centre stage.

Click here to read more about URBANARA's range of Imabari towels, the Mikawa collection.