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INDIGO BLUE - who called "JAPAN BLUE" first ?

INDIGO BLUE - who called "JAPAN BLUE" first ?

Indigo Dyeing

My favorite color is blue. I like everything from pale blue to navy blue.
The other day, a friend of mine invited me to dye indigo with her, and we dyed some old t-shirts.
As a result, the one I liked best was the one with the RED logo on it, and only the shoulders were dyed indigo blue.
The RED logo was also silk-screened by myself before.


What is the most attractive thing about indigo dyeing? It is the color itself!

KAMENOZOKI,USUAI, ASAGI-IRO,HANADA-IRO, AI-IRO, KATSHI-Iro etc...There are various names for the color of indigo, and the beauty of its diverse colors lies in the fact that it can be dyed.

Indigo has a long history, with dyed fabrics being excavated at Anatolian sites in Turkey around 3000 BC. Mummie cloth, a mummy wrapping cloth dating from 2500-1200 B.C., was discovered in the tomb of Thebes, Egypt, and is the oldest indigo-dyed cloth in the world. Around 300 B.C., the exchange of civilizations through the Silk Road began, and indigo-dyed fabric products came and went. Around 600, the cultivation of "Ward" begins in Europe.

300 B.C.,The blue pigment called indigo is a generic name for the different types of plants that are cultivated in different areas of the world.

Southeast Asia is a legume, Formosan Landlocked Willow,On the east coasts of Central America and central Africa, the Nanban cornut willow, also in the Fabaceae family, is found.

Ryukyu indigo, a member of the foxglove family, is found in Taiwan, southern China, and northern Southeast Asia.In Europe, the cruciferous family Ward is the most common.And In eastern China, the Korean Peninsula, and the central Japanese archipelago, the Tade-ai.

In Europe, the cruciferous family Ward is the most common.And In eastern China, the Korean Peninsula, and the central Japanese archipelago, the Tade-ai.

Indigo has a variety of benefits, including antibacterial action, insect repellency,antisepsis, odor control, heat retention, moisture retention, and UV shielding. In addition, indigo dyeing, which does not use any chemicals, can be used for baby clothes, and is said to be effective in preventing and alleviating atopic dermatitis in small children.

Indigo culture in Japan began in Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku. Tokushima is the home of indigo dye and  It is called Awa Indigo. The tradition is still carried on today.


Udatsu district -Tokushima

The origin of Awa indigo is said to date back to the Heian period (794-1185), when its cultivation began in the mountainous region of Tokushima to dye cloth called " Aratae" woven by the Awa Inbe clan.Aratae is a general word for coarse-textured cloth woven with tree bark fibers, but since the Heian period (794-1185), it has come to refer to hemp fabrics.

From ancient times, they were a prestigious clan in charge of court rituals, ritual equipment production, and palace construction for the Yamato kingdom. The group developed its power around the Yoshino River basin in Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku from at least the 3rd to 4th century, cultivated the Awa region, planted hemp and kaji (straw weeds) throughout Japan, and propagated life culture, including agriculture, sericulture, textiles, paper manufacturing, construction, fishing, clothing, food, and shelter. They planted hemp and kaja in the Awa region and spread their technologies of agriculture, sericulture, weaving, papermaking, construction, fishing, food, clothing, and housing, industrial technology, and tomb construction technology (agricultural and civil engineering technology).

Why did indigo cultivation flourish in Tokushima? There is a reason why indigo production flourished in the Yoshino River basin in Tokushima Prefecture. That reason is the Yoshino River. In the past, the Yoshino River, a clear stream running east to west through the prefecture, was a "raging river" that repeatedly flooded every time a typhoon hit.

By the Edo period (1603-1867), indigo dyeing had spread to clothing and sundry goods for the general public. Ai Indigo was used for everything from kimonos to obis, work clothes, noren (curtains), and yukata (summer kimonos). In 1903, the scale of production reached the highest level.

Tokushima Prefecture, in particular, accounted for the majority of the nation's production in terms of both area planted and volume produced. Later, however, good quality and inexpensive Indian indigo began to be imported from India, and imports of chemically synthesized artificial indigo increased rapidly from the late Meiji period, leading to the decline of Japanese indigo production.

In 1966, cultivation was reduced to 4 hectares, but the appeal of Awa indigo never stopped attracting people. And with the beauty and texture of natural indigo being reevaluated, indigo has become a quiet boom throughout Japan.

The art and culture of indigo developed not only in clothing, but also in painting.
Aizuri is a style of painting that can be found in many Ukiyo-e prints from the Edo period (1603-1868). Aizuri is a style of painting in which only shades of indigo, or a small amount of red or yellow, are added to the indigo.

What is "JAPAN BLUE" that globally recognized hue?

It is said that Atkinson, an English chemist who came to Japan in 1875, was the first to call the deep blue dyed by Japanese indigo, including Awa indigo, "Japan blue. Atkinson saw the kimonos worn by Japanese people at the time and called them "Japan blue" and praised them, while Koizumi Yakumo (Lafcadio Hearn), who came to Japan in 1890, praised Japan as "a country full of mysterious blue.

 Blessings from Tradition Today

As mentioned above, the production of indigo dye reached its peak during the Meiji Era (1868-1912), and declined in proportion to the increase in free trade, imports of inexpensive substitutes from India, and the gradual introduction of Western culture and lifestyles. Recently, however, there has been an increase in demand as more and more people become aware of the importance of preserving the tradition and the original high quality of the indigo. Nowadays, most people do not wear Japanese kimonos in their daily lives.
However, there are many brands that have taken over the good old Japan and transformed it into the modern age to carry on the tradition in a new way.

OKURA is an apparel store that has gained the support of young people in Daikanyama, an area known as the living room of fashion in Tokyo, and as the flagship store of "BLUE  BLUE JAPAN", it offers products with a Japanese feel centering on "indigo". Since its opening in 1993, OKURA has been a reliable presence that has kept the neighborhood colorful and colorful without losing its coolness.

Shop link to the Blue Blue Japan info:

Traditions, when they are discontinued, they are no longer of this world.
There are many things in life that you realize after you have loss them, such as a healthy body or the gratitude of your parents.
I think it is the same with traditional culture. Especially these days, when you find a product in a store or hear new music, even the time to look at a single image or the emotion to savor it is not durable. In this age where everything seems to be vanishing like the wind, I have often wondered, ''What is civilization for us?
It seems that the time will soon come when people will no longer be moved by thinking about the future based on ''scientific evidence''.

It is a miracle, I think, that after the world wars of the 20th century, a country that entered the forefront of science and technology and became a world leader in technology and consumption has, on the other hand, people who have been carrying on the art of craft for hundreds of years.
And it is inspiring. The excitement of encountering such treasures of civilization and their craftsmanship and personalities is one of the charms of Japan Blue and indeed of Japan itself. I will be introducing many more from now on, so please look forward to it!













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