Awa Ai

Awa Ai Born in Tokushima

The deep color of the indigo style is from Awa Ai.
Among the indigo dyes, Hon Aizome is dyed using traditional techniques supported by the experience and skills of craftsmen.

On Awa Ai

There are two types of indigo dyeing: “fresh leaf dyeing”, which is dyed with fresh leaves, and“SUKUMO” dyeing”, which is dyed with“SUKUMO”made of fermented leaves.
Indigo dyeing in Tokushima Prefecture is called “Awa Ai”. Awa Ai is the most distinctive feature of Awa Ai.
“SUKUMO” is made by drying and then fermenting the cut indigo leaves.
“Aidama” is made from rounded spiders. Indigo is the source of Awa Ai dye.

This indigo dyeing dyed by traditional techniques

In order to dye it with indigo, it is necessary to add lye and further ferment it.
This process, called “indigo”, is a traditional technique that does not use any chemicals.
Among the indigo dyes, Hon Aizome is dyed by this technique.

Craftsmanship that affects the color of indigo

“Ai is a living thing”, so delicate.
The quality of dyeing depends on the craftsman’s experience and politeness.
It is also a job of a craftsman to thoroughly soak the dough in water before dyeing to remove air and impurities.
Dip the well squeezed fabric into the indigo liquid.
The indigo color develops when the soaked fabric is pulled up and brought into contact with the air.
The color changes from ocher to green and then to indigo by washing with water. Because of the beautiful waters of the Yoshino River basin, it is dyed with deep indigo.
This work can be continued even in cold winters like ice, until it is finished in a convincing indigo color. When dyeing in dark colors, soak more than 50 times, pull up, wash with water, soak again and so on, and the craftsmen will dye.

Indigo color

Did you know that the indigo color “brown” is called “KACHIIRO”, a nickname that leads to victory?
At present, it is also known as the color used in the game, such as being used for the uniform of the Japanese national football team.
It is also a Japanese traditional color and was chosen because of its good luck.
It was during the Warring States period that “Ai was the winner”.
It is said that dyeing the armored lower part worn by samurai with indigo was the beginning.
It was thought that indigo dyeing was said to have the effect of hemostasis and disinfection when wounded.
Indigo is used in various scenes as the “color to challenge” and “the color to win”.

History of Awa Ai

It is said that indigenous indigo has been cultivated since the Heian period in the Yoshino River basin, a major production area of indigo dye.
In the Yoshino River, floods often occur due to typhoons in the fall, so the production of indigo plants that sow seeds in March and cut leaves in summer was thriving.
The flooded land was also a good place for an indigo plant that needed nutrients, sometimes called fertilizer eating.
During the Edo era, when cotton began to be widely distributed, the Tokushima Domain encouraged the cultivation and production of indigo and the Yoshino River basin flourished.
Since the Meiji era, the import of inexpensive overseas indigo and the spread of chemical dyes have reduced the number of indigo masters who are responsible for everything from cultivation to processing.

Why “SUKUMO” Dyeing Is Valuable

“SUKUMO” is the source of indigo dye.
Where the indigo leaves are dried, the craftsman’s experience and skills shine.
The process of fermenting dried leaves takes place 100 days a day.
Fermenting a large number of leaves is not easy.
With the advent of chemical dyes and the import of inexpensive indigo, demand for indigo dyes, which are not evenly dyed and are troublesome, has been decreasing.
However, the indigo color, which has a depth that chemical dyes cannot provide, was quietly inherited by the passion of indigo masters who wanted to convey its goodness.
Attention has been paid to the components contained in indigo, and when research began at universities and other places, the goodness of indigo dyeing was once again reviewed.
It has been used as a crude drug since ancient times, and has been said to have various effects such as insect repellent, deodorant, and antibacterial.
Kimono dyed with indigo has been handed down in Tokushima, the hometown of indigo, as it has not been eaten by insects for many years.
Indigo has various possibilities as well as its beautiful texture.
Now, the effects of indigo are attracting attention again, and indigo dyeing is being reviewed along with traditional values.
Focusing on the color of indigo dye and the power of indigo, one of the products made from the heart is “Ai Style”.