Japan, has long held the art of all natural indigo dyeing called Aizome 藍染め. Though many other countries have been producing indigo dye around the same time with some even much earlier, the Japanese’s method is unique in the sense that it uses sukumo (fermented Polygonum leaves). This over 1400 years of history art of dyeing involves a lengthy method and the usage of sukumo (fermented Polygonum leaves).
Its shade ranges from aijiro (indigo white) which is the lightest shade closest to white, to noukon (navy blue) which is the darkest shade closest to black. Let’s have a look at some of the products produced by what is labelled as Japan blue.
Garunteed maximum movement, Along with perfectly placed seams for a stylish fit. A modernized touch of technology brings comfort, fit and a smooth touch in one pair.
rinmidskinny #aizome #3in1 #sustainable #ease #comfort #ootd #women #classic #jeans #form #shape pic.twitter.com/FyRnRXoU96
— Aizome (@AizomeJeans) November 10, 2018
Recently, this technique has been applied to Jeans & Denim, giving it a modern touch. One of the clothing brands that produces Aizome Denim is Studio D’Artisan, a denim powerhouse in Japan. They hand dye their fabrics using natural Aizome before weaving them using Okayama old loom which gives a tight, fading feel to the jeans.
Developed in Saitama by the Kojima Senshoku. These plushies called Ai Bear are actually cute indigo bears made with fabrics which have been dyed using the Bushu Indigo Dyeing technique. The fabrics used are all made from threads dyed in different tones of Aizome blue before woven together into cloth. The special thing about this bear is that each bear are handmade and therefore there will never be the two same Ai Bear in the world!
そして、お祭りの出店でまた買ってしまった!プレー特産のスアモーホーム（藍染服）!!こういうモーホームは初めてみた♡かわいいでしょ～ｳﾌﾌ 予想より高かったけど、これ全部手で作ってるんだ、と思えば衝撃的な安さだよな……プレー万歳!! pic.twitter.com/CXgba8eN5y
— ばんちゃん (@bangbang22_bua) September 10, 2015
Shop such as Aizenkobo sells clothes like blouses, scarves, coats and many more. Oh! and also tapestries, all of them dyed using Aizome! The materials used for the clothes include cotton, linen and silk. According to them, materials that have been dyed in Aizome soften with use, while the colour’s richness increases with time. Some of their blues are so dark that they even appear blackish in colour.
If you prefer casual everyday wear, places like Pure Blue Japan by Syoaiya offers a variety of apparels and accessories like T-shirt, coat, knitted cap and etc.
— /\sa mí (@asamiasami81) February 17, 2018
Besides it’s Indigo colour, Aizome also has disinfectant and antibacterial property and is suitable for those with eczema. It is also said that Aizome dye can prevent skin irritations, making it perfect for baby apparels and some of the rare companies that are this are the Aeru Meguro (Japanese only) and Aizome Yano Kojo Hon.
— 手作りおむつポーチのお店 (@kifazimefeba) September 4, 2016
If you are practicing Japanese martial art, this is something for you. Companies such as Seido Co. Ltd. and All Japan Budogu produces the Aizome Hakama. Since the 14th century, Aizome has been used to dye samurai and worker’s garments because of the antibacterial, durability, and odour repelling properties. Sounds like a very good material to wear for when you are sweating out trying to defeat an opponent. So, it definitely isn’t strange for Aizome to be used on martial art apparel such as the Hakama.
— 竹虎四代目(山岸義浩) (@taketoracom) December 12, 2017
Basically, Samue (作務衣) is a type of work clothing worn by Japanese Zen Buddhist monks. However, the wearers are not limited to just Japanese Zen Buddhist monks, nowadays you can see people like the sushi chef and even the Aizome craftsmen themselves wearing it. This is due to Samue being easy to wear and does not constrict any movement. One of the shops that offer Aizome Samue is N Three Co., Ltd. They also have inner wears and socks, all dyed in the traditional Aizome.
— 伝承園 (@tono_densyoen) August 24, 2017
Shibori is basically what you would call Tie and Die in English. There are many places such as the Izome Furusato Museum (website in Japanese), Wanariya, Aizumicho Historical Museum: Ai-no-Yakata and many others that offer you first-hand experience on making Aizome Shibori handkerchief, T- shirt and etc! If you plan to personally make something with your own hands for someone special, Shibori is definitely the most suitable! Guided by the experienced craft masters, you definitely wouldn’t be disappointed by the experience and results.
— W a K a N a 【大 野 わ か な】 (@S2wakanaaS2) September 26, 2017
Tsutsugaki is a type of resist-dyeing technique that uses rice paste to draw a design creating a negative space when dyeing. Furoshiki, on the other hand, is a square-shaped wrapping cloth and most of the time, we see them wrapped around a bento or gifts.
The most common sizes found are 45 cm (17.7 inches) and 68–72 cm (26.7-28.3 inch). Together (technique+cloth), they are Tsusugaki Furoshiki and these cloths are very rare items as Nagata Sen-Koujou Website (in Japanese only) is the only place that still produces it today.
— 城 南海 staff official (@minaminchu) June 29, 2018
If you want to make some Aizome garment of your choice, why not purchase some fabrics? Some company like Kojimasenshoku Co. Ltd produces fabrics that range from lightweight fabrics, which are suitable for shirts to heavier and denser fabrics, which are ideal for making bags and others. Places like Yasuko store also offer a variety of products made from Aizome fabrics such as Yukata textiles, teapot mat and etc.
— いなもと かおり/ちょめ (@tyome_no_heya) August 17, 2015
Since Tokushima is known for famously producing Aizome, I am pretty sure that you will come across these easily. As you should know, dyeing using Aizome is not limited to cloth. Objects such as umbrella, jewelry and many others can also be dyed using Aizome.
— 雑貨屋＊子猫堂＊1月テーマ『光』開催中🎇 (@konekodou) September 2, 2018
Since Aizome contains antibacterial property, it is also suitable to be made into soap for bathing. These chemical-free soaps are gentle to the skin and suitable for those who are prone to rashes and eczema. Not only that! Since they also have insect repellent property, you can keep one or two in places where you do not welcome the insects’ visit.
Aiiro Koubou Co., Ltd. Website (japanese only) is the company well known to produce such soaps. Their soaps are molded into interesting shapes and colours, making them suitable to be given as gifts!
Though famously produced in Tokushima and Saitama, Aizome products can be found all over Japan. Today, although rarely heard of; Aizome also know as the Japan Blue has long been revered as one of the most important arts of Japan. This can be seen in its’ colour usage on Japan’s 2020 Olympic’s official logo. So, the next time you are in Japan, why not bring home some souvenir made of Aizome?
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