Crude prices strain traditional Kyoto dyeing industry

Rising crude prices are hitting Kyoto's traditional kimono dyeing industry hard. Firms in the centuries-old business are now barely turning a profit.

The stencil dyeing technique of Kyo-yuzen is said to date back more than 300 years. It is known for its elaborate designs and a lengthy production process that requires lots of fuel.

Hiroumi is a firm that specializes in stabilizing the colors of the dye. It uses gas-powered boilers to steam and dry fabrics.

The company has seen its monthly gas bill soar to nearly 35,000 dollars. That's over double what it was a year ago.

Hiroumi's president, Shibuya Minoru, says he is unsure if the company can continue doing business. But he adds they hope to make it through the difficult times.

Kyo-yuzen makers have been struggling with declining demand for decades. Total production across the industry is now just 1.6 percent of what it was at its peak in 1971.