Off-the-Eaten Path Food Experience in Japan. "Meet the People and Places behind your Plates! "

Monday 12 June 2017

Indigo Dyeing, Aizome experience

Japan Blue: Indigo dying experience

"indigo plants fermentation is exactly the same process as making organic fertilizer for agriculture", said 80 years old artisan, Mr. Uenishi, who taught us what he has learnt from his lifework.
Indigo is one of the oldest dyeing material in the world, and it is said that it was transmited from China or Vietnam together with rice plant in 7th century. In Konan city, Indigo dying has been handed down from generations to generations since 16 century in the Edo samurai worrier period. The 4th generation, Mr. Uenishi is over 80 years old, the last artisan of Konki senshoku (indigo dying workshop), and no one else is supposed to take over his job. 
Uenishi san told us his passion towards indigo dying for us.
Sukumo, fermented indigo plant, material for dying, is hard and heavy like puer tea. Sukumo is not dissolved in water and alkaline and glucose solution are added and fermented for 100 days.
Organic fertilizer, puer tea, and sukumo of indigo plant are all fernented plants, and made by the same process of fermentation.  
"It is heating up, while fermentation. It requires water to dry"
 In the cold winter, temperature must be maintained to keep the bacteria alive. Since Uenishi san burn rice bran to heat up the "aigame", indigo vase,  the walls and cealing are all black due to the smoke.
The indigo dying vase we have used had been cherished for long time from generations to generations.
 After dying twice in the first vat, the indigo color is getting deeper.

After dying 4 times...

The blue color is getting more vivid when washed and dried. 


Learning Indigo Dying

There are sevaral indigo dyeing atelier in Kyoto, Shiga, and Nara. It is possible to add indigo dying experience starting from Kyoto or Nara.

Check availability and make a reservation from here