Famous “Aizome,” the indigo dye is commonly known as, “Japan Blue or “Hiroshige Blue,” is produced from the Japanese Indigo plant using an extraction process called “Tade.” The process produces a blue dye that can imprint silk, cotton and hemp with a beautiful spectrum of hues and tints. The process was discovered during the 6th-7th, century or Nara era. The dye is used in coloring work clothes as well as fine apparel due to its richness, homeopathic and fades resistance qualities. Indigo has antibacterial, insect repellent effects, prevents odors, and is used in the treatment of eczema.
The production of “Aizome,” is a time-honored process. Plant leaves are dried and fermented for 100 days, then combined with wheat bran, lime, and sake and allowed to age for another week. Finally the dye mixture is ready. The concentrated dye solution only takes on the famous blue color when exposed to air and placed on absorbent fabrics or surfaces. The “Aizome” blue coloring is fantastic. The technique can create a range of tints (“aijiro indigo white”), to deep blue hues. The blue color is deepened and heightened by repeated dye coatings. “Aijiro” was also used for the body of “Tokyo Skytree,” a new landmark in Tokyo.
There are many places in and near Tokyo to you can that find “Aizome” work shops or classes. Bring your natural fabric handkerchief, bandanas, t-shirt, create a design and try this beautiful technique. Some locations have exhibitions of “Aizome’s” history and “Aizome Kinomo” or Fabric Art.
Learn Japanese History
Learn Japanese Culture