Koso-en Natural Indigo Dyed Itagime
Based in Ōme, on the outskirts of Tokyo: Koso-en is an outstanding remnant of the indigo dye tradition in the capital. Practicing a technique of dye fermentation developed in the Edo period (pre 1868), a raw material: sukumo is mixed with lime, bran and wood ash. Only natural ingredients are used, and the lead craftsman of the works, Noriyuki Murata, describes the process as somewhat similar to making a good sake. The dye mixture needs to be stirred everyday, a task that falls to Murata, and like a human he says the slowing fermenting dye has its own moods, and ups and downs that he must respond to. The outcome is special kind of blue. Its depth is not achieved by time, but rather by repetition, with multiple dye attempts.