oohara kobo, which is also discussed in the natural dye journal, includes natural indigo dyeing in their workshop. the grow their own japanese indigo (polygonum) too.
oohara kobo 大原工房 おおはらこうぼう
address: 327 Kusao-cho, Ohara, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City 京都府京都市左京区大原草生町327
- hours: 9:00a.m.-5:00p.m; closed: wednesday; no website
- *from 500 yen, you can dye a hankerchief, or you can choose from a variety of silk scarves, etc. it's also posible to bring your own items to dye. since the dying takes place outdoors, it's only possible to do during summer when the weather is mild.
- access: from kyoto JR station, take kyoto city bus number 17 towards oohara (大 原) 57 minutes, alternativiely, you can take kyoto city bus number 19, which leaves from 地下鉄烏丸線国際会館前駅 subway station and takes 22 minutes to reach oohara. when you arrive in oohara, it's a 20 minute walk.
this is the japanese indigo plant, or polygonum. in japanese, it's called tadeai. ai means indigo as in aizome 藍染め (あいぞめ）which means indigo dyeing. this is what it looks like dried. the leaves can be used directly to dye, but this is not really ever done. tadeai is fermented in a big bucket. it's really a huge bucket, the size of an oil drum. with other ingredients added, sort of like food for the fermentation process.and goes into this vat, which is 1 meter deep.dyeing a silk scarf using oxidation to get a deeper color: one minute in the dye, one minute in the air. *repeat.*