If you’re looking for a really unique souvenir of your time on Japan or maybe a gift for someone back home, why not try your hand at Roketsu dyeing? Roketsu is a traditional Japanese method of dyeing fabric using wax and an indigo coloured dye. It is specifically done in Kyoto so you can try it for yourself and make something to take home!
You need to make a reservation, but their English is good enough that it’s easy to do over the phone. When you arrive at the workshop the first job is deciding what it is you want to make. You can choose from various sizes of cloths or a t-shirt. If you make a t-shirt you can choose a design for both the front and back. They have a big selection of different designs you can choose from and it’s even possible to design your own. They range from traditional Japanese designs and seasonal pictures of Kyoto to popular anime characters.
Once you’ve picked out a design you place it under the cloth you’re going to dye and weigh it down on one of the special lighted tables so you can see the lines through the cloth. In the middle of the table is a pot of hot wax which you paint onto your cloth, thick enough to keep the dye from soaking in. You have to be careful though, to make sure to get enough wax on without it running.
The next step is the dyeing itself. You’re given a heavy apron and big rubber gloves that go up past your elbows. Then you need to put your wax painted cloth into a big bucket filled with a dark blue dye and take turns stirring with a big wooden stick to keep them moving and make sure the dye completely covers what you’ve made. After about twenty minutes they are taken out again and left to dry while you enjoy some Japanese tea and biscuits!
The whole process takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours. It is a well worth experience that is not only fun but can give you the chance to take a really unique souvenir home!