We don’t use any chemical things at all. We use only “Sukumo” what is fermented raw leaves of indigo plants and other natural materials. So, this way of dyeing is very ecofriendly and healthy. This Japanese indigo dyeing method have been practiced for over 400 years from Edo period mainly that is the golden age.
Making the natural indigo dye liquid is called “Aidate”. We put the five materials－sukumo, lye water, lime powder, wheat bran, and sake into the indigo vat and stir them twice a day. When the indigo liquid show a sign of fermentation, we add the lye water little by little, and it gets ready to dye in a week.
Why we can dye the clothes with our bare hands?
We dye a lot of clothes with our bare hands every day. It’s because we have to do things that required delicate movements of the fingers. The natural indigo is completely safe to the human body, and that’s why we can use our bare hands for dyeing. In addition to that, natural indigo have antibacterial effects and block UV rays. There are many good points for our health like this. Moreover, we throw the old indigo liquid away to our field as fertilizer, and we eat some vegetables growing there. The natural indigo dyeing is totally sustainable and ecofriendly.
Maintaining the Natural Indigo Dyeing by lye fermented
Japanese natural indigo dyeing have the beautiful color and sustainability that can’t be found in any other. We can’t explain this color as just “blue” or “indigo” because the clothes that’re dyed many times with natural indigo become a glossy and reddish-blue color. No one can make this color even though we mix some synthetic dyes or different color paint. We repeat the dyeing work over and over again to make this beautiful color what we can only get here, “Kosoen”. When we’re above selfishness and face the natural indigo seriously, they finally show us their beauty.
Natural Indigo and Synthetic Indigo
Sukumo－the main material for natural indigo dyeing－ is fermented raw leaves of indigo plants. Because of fermentation, “indican” which is in the leaves of indigo plants turn into “indigo” which needs to dye. Sukumo is made by only 5 indigo farmers called “Aishi”. It takes a whole year to make it, and this is really hard work. Every year in February, we get sukumo from Osamu Nii －one of the indigo farmers who was designed as an intangible cultural property in Japan. Nowadays, most indigo dyed clothes are synthetically dyed in short time. So, we are one of the few studios that dye the clothes with natural indigo dyeing by lye fermented. Although it’s necessary that we spend much time and effort on to dye by this way, we never use any chemical things at all. It’s because you would feel calm and satisfied when you put a natural indigo dyed cloth on.
Murata Dying INDUSTRY inc.
President and Representative director
Our business has its origin in dyeing cotton threads. Demand for beddings increased dramatically in the post-war period, and at its peak our Ome area - famous for textile production - provided close to 50% of the national demand. Our company played an important part in this industry, and since then we expanded into the dyeing of such products as towels, clothing, and fabrics for interior decoration. The current kosoen indigo dyeing workshop was established in 1989.