The banana plant has long been a source of fiber for high quality textiles. In Japan, banana cultivation for clothing and household use dates back to at least the 13th century. In the Japanese system, leaves and shoots are cut from the plant periodically to ensure softness. Harvested shoots are first boiled in lye to prepare fibers for yarnmaking. These banana shoots produce fibers of varying degrees of softness, yielding yarns and textiles with differing qualities for specific uses.