"Asagi" is an ancient Japanese term used to refer to a light indigo color achieved through Japanese Indigo dye. The asagi color was popular during the Edo period, and is famously known as the color of the haori-coats worn by the Shinsengumi police force.
Closer to green than blue, yet lighter in shade than the flower.
We've named this workshop a traditional Japanese name, as we use a traditional Japanese dye "sukumo" for our process.
Asagi is also Aina's second product line.
- Doesn't fade easily, and strengthens the fabric
- Deodorizing and disinfecting effect, with insect repellant properties
- Resistant to heat, and was used for firemen's uniform during the Edo period
- Treasured as attire for farm work ("Nora-gi" or workwear)
- Color does not fade even after extended use. The blue becomes brighter as it goes through washes
- Unlike synthetic indigo, there is elegance and depth to the blue hue
- The color is brighter compared to natural indigo, but lacks depth
- The color fades with use and rubs off onto other materials (which is difficult to wash out)
- Not as resistant against heat and light - Damages fabric during the dyeing process
- Damages fabric during the dyeing process
Indigo "Tade-Ai" (Persicaria tinctoria) Persicaria tinctoria, also known as Japanese Indigo, is the source of indigo dye. It is annual and of the Persicaria genus in the Polygonaceae family. Only seed from the previous year's harvest germinate. While there are many theories, the term "indigo" is said to be derived from Indochina where the plant originated. Indigo leaves have been used as an ingredient for indigo dye, or dried and used as remedies for canker sores, nausea, fever, and as a disinfectant. Common Indigo Species in Japan First class Persicaria tinctoria White --Cultivated in Izumo and Kyoto General class Persicaria tinctoria Red --Used since ancient times
Common Indigo Species in Japan
First class Persicaria tinctoria White --Cultivated in Izumo and Kyoto
General class Persicaria tinctoria Red --Used since ancient times
Indigo is civilization's oldest dye. The dyeing procedure starts with immersing a fabric in an indigo dyebath, letting the dye penetrate the fabric, squeezing out excess liquid, and letting it oxidize for the blue to set in.
Indigo is unlike standard natural dyes as it is not water-soluble. In order to use it as a dye, it must first be reduced to make it soluble.
"Sukumo" (fermented indigo leaves) and lye are used for "hon-date", or the natural indigo lye fermentation reduction method. Mix highly alkaline lye made by running hot water through hardwood ash (from sawtooth or Japanese oaks, or cherry trees), with alcohol, wheat bran, and lime to bait bacteria. Maintain the temperature at 25-30 degrees Celsius for 2-4 days of fermentation. The bacteria prefers a high alkaline balance, but as the fermentation progresses the alkalinity will decrease, yielding hydrogen to ultimately reduce the indigo. Maintain an ideal fermentation environment while paying close attention to progress, and add lye for inflation to complete. A bubble cluster (called "ai-bana" or indigo flower) forms on the surface when this dye is mixed, and once it turns indigo colored it is ready for use.
Sukumo "Sukumo" are fermented Japanese indigo leaves used to create the unique Japanese indigo dye. Preparation takes 75-90 days. The leaves are collected and piled in a warehouse, then repeatedly sprayed with water and turned over.
Indican (a colorless organic compound) turns blue when oxidized. As the color deepens it becomes lumped "sukumo". People who make these fermented indigo leaves are referred to as "ai-shi" (indigo makers), and such makers and their businesses are collectively referred to as "koya".
Growing Indigo(Tade-Ai) Early March on an auspicious day - sow seeds in a seed bed
Early May - plant seedlings in field
Late July - first harvest, 50-70cm (leaves are large and thick, with a deep color)
Additional fertilizing after first harvest
Late August and beyond - second harvest
Making "Sukumo"Early September on an auspicious day - production begins. Dried indigo leaves are piled in a traditional barn with a dirt floor called "nedoko". A mixing procedure is conducted, spraying water on the floor and turning over the pile of leaves to induce fermentation.
The spraying turning is repeated every 4-6 days. Managing the amount of water and temperature is crucial during this time.
Indigo is said to have arrived from China between the Asuka (562-710) and Nara (710-794) periods (the silk road theory is most probable). "Nama-ha" dyeing in which leaves were used as-is developed during this time, and later during the Muromachi period (1336-1573) indigo dyeing using "sukumo" (fermented indigo leaves) became common. During the Edo Period (1603-1868), there was an increase in indigo production in Awa (present day Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku) alongside the spread of cotton cultivation, and the annual turnout of indigo balls peaked during the 19th century. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), cheaper Indian indigo as well as the industrialization of synthetic indigo in Germany led to a rise in imports. Japanese indigo went into decline after its production was prohibited due to The Food Control Laws put in place to increase the production of agriculture during World War II. Indigo was used as a dye all over the world before the common era, but nowadays its production has declined and synthetic indigo has become mainstream. However, the benefits of natural dye are being revisited today.