Profile of: Higeta Indigo House, Japan
Text and Images by Lauren K. Lancy
Written for The Kindcraft
Higeta Indigo House is located in Mashiko, a small town in Japan’s Tochiji prefecture. It is a 9th generation family enterprise which has practiced natural dying, dye production, cotton cultivation, yarn-making, yarn-dyeing and hand-weaving since the Edo era. Their products are made using Polygonum Tinctorium with a Japanese dry-leaf process that differs from methods used in India or Thailand. The Indigo dye is made through a long and delicate a process of fermentation using indigo leaves – or sukumo – wheat bran, hardwood ash, lime, and sake. Among the vats are vents where straw and wood burns in cool weather to keep the temperature of the indigo dye between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius, depending on the stage of fermentation. Of the 72 vats, the Higeta family makes about 30 different shades of blue indigo dye. Shibori-zome or shibori and kata-zome stencil-resist dyeing are some of the methods used and which further distinguish this traditional fabric's appearance.