Indigo Report from Japan


The traditional art of dyeing indigo threads and weaving the textile is thriving in Japan.

Read the entire article on the Blue and White blog posted on December 6, 2017:

Consider the Lowly Thread

From its humble origins as a cotton boll, its fibers are plucked and stretched and twisted into multi-ply threads that are stripped down to single ply then twisted into strands to make a sturdier thread for weaving and stitching, the cotton thread has been a staple for Japanese cloth for centuries.  Studies vary, but the cotton culture has been actively maintained since the 15th century, having been introduced in the late Nara period or early Heian around the 9th century.

Its fortuitous meeting with indigo in about the 15th century and their dance in the dexterous hands and sensitive minds of Japanese craftsmen has produced a tradition of extraordinary indigo textiles that is unparalleled in the world.  (this report might be biased!)

It is ongoing today in the workplaces of increasing numbers of dedicated dyers, spinners, and weavers throughout Japan.

In this hands-on industry, there are never enough hands to man the dye pots and the loom upwarping, the weavings, the overseeing.  More people are necessary to perpetuate this tenuous industry. Here a man bends to the somewhat mechanized task of wringing out the indigo dyed fibers.

The aibana, indigo flower in the indigo brew needs stirring and tending to each day to maintain its vitality to produce rich tones of indigo.

Tedious bindings of threads produce striking blue and white threads.

The ultimate blue and white thread is one mysteriously blended in alternating shades of indigo.

In Japan a red thread is thought to connect lovers and is often alluded to at wedding ceremonies.  But to my mind, it is an indigo thread that connects people and weaves them together, in Japan and beyond: from blue jeans to uniforms to flags.  You find it everywhere, the indigo thread of destiny.

Spools of indigo thread feed into the clackety looms that operate on programmed design cards at Japan Blue Textile Company.

Tall spindly bobbins of various indigo threads are grooved by time and use in the weaving process.