Blanket production in Izumiotsu City has a history of over 130 years. It was inspired from the introduction of blankets from overseas, when Japan opened up to the world in the Meiji era (1868-1912) after a long period of isolation. Imported blankets were very expensive, so they sought to make their own.
One origin story posits that the initial techniques used to make blankets was borrowed from the famous warrior Yukimura Sanada (1567-1615), who was on the losing side of the pivotal Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He moved to Koyasan—one of Japan’s most sacred Buddhist areas—and eventually lived a life of solitude, confined to his house in Kudoyama. There he developed a style of weaving to make strings for the purpose of fastening swords and obi (belts for kimonos).
During the Meiji period, western culture and influences spread across the country. Part of the spread included a type of red blanket with black stripes called aka-getto. These blankets were expensive but were very popular. The imported versions were made from wool but the material was not readily available in Japan and local weavers sought to find an alternative, cost-effective method of production.