Chigusa is a greenish light blue color extracted from the small blue petals of spiderwort flowers that bloom in the summer.
Spiderwort is called “tsuyukusa” in Japanese. Tsuyukusa is also known as “tsukikusa” and chigusa is said to derive from the word, tsukikusa.
Spiderwort is a prairie wildflower that grows in fields and by the roadside in summer. The flowers open in the morning, closing again in the afternoon. It is a delicate flower that brings a beautiful touch to the Japanese summer. The color extracted from the flower is very delicate and is easily washed away with water. It is used to draw a rough sketch for Yuuzen style dyeing.
Kimonos which were provided by merchants in Kyoto for their apprentices were lightly dyed with indigo plants and had a pale blue color. After a while the color of the kimono would start to fade so it was dyed again. The color arising from repeated dying of the fabric became known as chigusa color, perhaps because when the indigo plant is used lightly as a dye, it is a light green in color that is similar to the blue of fabric dyed with spiderwort.
The furoshiki (wrapping cloths) made in the Izumo, Matsue and Yonago areas of Shimane Prefecture are designated as traditional hometown handicraft.
Before the Meiji period, there were aizome indigo dyers across the nation, however, around 1917 (Meiji 40), chemical dyeing had become popular. By 1950, of the 59 tsutsugaki aizome dyers in Izumo, only 4 remained. Today, only one tsutsugaki aizome dyer remains in Nagata, which is recognized by the prefecture as an intangible cultural asset.
Tsutsugaki aizome with a family crest were used as trousseau items up untilthe Taisho period. Furoshiki wrapping cloths were also included in trousseaus.
Making the tsutsugaki aizome requires repetition in dyeing. During the dyeing process, the patterns on the aizome are protected by paste, which is later washed off in the Takase River.
Murayama Oshima-Tsumugi is a tough and high-quality fabric woven in Musashi-Murayama City, Tokyo, and has been designated as an Intangible Cultural Asset of Tokyo.
It is said that this fabric was first woven in the mid-Edo period. It is made by combining the cotton Murayama-kongasuri and the silk Sunagawa-futo-ori techniques. In the 1920s, this was further adapted with the addition of crisscross splashed cotton threads and became one of the main products of Oshima-tsumugi.
Murayama Oshima-tsumugi has been woven using the original Murayama and Sunagawa village looms since the mid-Taisho period. The warp and weft threads are dyed separately, and there is no difference between the front and back sides of the cloth.
Over the years, the relentless efforts of the pioneering craftspeople eventually paid off, as testified in the high quality and toughness of this fabric.
In 1975, this fabric was designated by the Minister of International Trade and Industry as a Traditional Handicraft.
Awawashi is a paper made mainly in Oeguyamakawa, in the Aba region (today's Tokushima Prefecture). It is colored using local specialty dyes.
Awawashi originated about 1300 years ago, when the Imi-buzoku (Imi Tribe) serving under the Imperial Court planted and harvested hemp and paper mulberry to make paper and cloth. Records of this were found in archives dating to 807.
In the early Edo period, around the year 1636, the Han (fiefs of feudal lords of Japan) made it a policy to invigorate the paper industry, and encouraged farmers to undertake papermaking as a side job. The dyed Awawashi paper was recognized around Japan due to its color.
It came to be used in several ways, such as for Abahan’s script or as a form of currency called hansatsu, or simply for drawing. Later, Awawashi received wider recognition after it was seen at the Paris International Exhibition in 1890. After that, the number of papermakers making this paper rose to a peak of around 700.
Today, the most widely seen Awawashi is white, and the tradition that the Awawashi built up is slowly fading.
Koginzashi is old needlework technology passed down in Tsugaru district. The origin of this technology is that in the Edo period farmers were forbidden to wear padded garment, so they dressed in several layers of clothing made of linen or ramie that grew in mountains to shut out the cold. In order to make the clothes more durable and warmer, the women began to give embroidering especially to the part of the shoulder, waist and lower sleeve edges with undyed cotton thread. It was the fruits of the women’s wisdom to overcome the severe cold in the northland. Koginzashi is characterized in that hand embroidering with white cotton thread is given along the weave patterns of indigo-dyed linen. At the present day, cotton or wool is also used and there is a variation in color. Its simple and beautiful geometrical patterns represent the strength and sensibility of the women in the northland, who carry on delicate needlework. It was designated as a traditional handicraft by the prefecture.
Wabisuke is a group of handicraftsmen in Kyoto who offer a new type of Japanese brand that matches the modern life style taking traditional Kaga colors (the five colors of Kutani Ware) or traditional handicraft techniques (Kutani Ware, Yamanaka Lacquer ware and Kaga Dyeing) as their motifs. Their first released items are the bengara (iron rust) dyed, indigo dyed and lacquered Converse sneakers, all of which are processed by hand. As the second, they have just released the Kutani Othello Game. Each item reflects the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic of Japanese tradition, creating the feeling of tranquility regardless of the current fashion trend. The characteristic of Wabisuke’s dyeing is that they use Japanese traditional colors and natural dyestuff and pigments so that the color shade in nature is transformed into textile. So, the longer you use it, the more natural the color becomes.