The Aizome (Indigo Dyeing) Museum is located in Sumida City, a special ward of Tokyo, where many craftspeople reside. The museum is difficult to find and I get lost on my way. I’m finally pointed in the right direction and I’m surprised to discover that the museum is actually a working studio.
When I arrive Yukihiro Fujisawa is standing in his workshop. He’s rinsing indigo fabrics in a basin filled with water. He’s friendly and I ask him about the museum. He quickly finds Noriko Fujisawa and she gives me a tour.
She takes me to a small room where a few kimono and assorted textiles are hanging. She describes the dyeing process and her English is just good enough for us to understand each other. She explains that she soaks the Indigo plants for fermentation and then dries them. She also shows me the stencil patterns and soy paste that is brushed over the pattern in order to resist the dye.
I ask if I can go back to the studio and look at the process in more detail. She happily gives me a small white handkerchief tied with rubber bands and says that I can dip it in the bubbly blue indigo vats. We walk back to the workshop and Yukihiro says that the Indigo bath is very deep, about 1 meter.
First, I dip my handkerchief in water and once it’s wet, it goes into the dye. It soaks for a few minutes and is lifted out. It’s a greenish color at first but turns blue as it oxidizes. Yukihiro says that it must go in again and the cloth is dipped one more time. It’s then rinsed with water and hung to dry. I’m really excited to have had my first indigo dyeing experience!