Ivar and me decided not to make any solid plans for our three month trip to Japan, we were going to let things happen and be driven by the moment. However, I was determined to find a real indigo dyeing experience, that was something I was not going to leave the country without!
When we got to Okinawa and understood the uniqueness of the island and its cultural background and traditions, I believed it was a very interesting place to look into their crafts. Okinawa, which is formed by several islands, sandy beaches and wild jungles; was not that long ago a separate kingdom called Ryukyu that had also a big influence from China and Korea.
After a day of using Google translator on every site related to Bingata (a traditional stencil based technique) and Ryukyu Aizome (Indigo dyeing), I found Aikaze, a beautiful remote Indigo workshop on the north of the island in the middle of the jungle. I asked Taka and Ivar if they were up for taking one of their workshops, and off were on the adventure.
Aikaze was not easy to find as it felt like a hidden gem in the middle of the jungle. When we got there a small dog greeted us and we got to meet a few of the members from the team. Kato-san’s assistant gave us a quick introduction while Katon-san himself was using the workshop to work on his own pieces. The three of us got to choose one item we wanted to dye and were introduced to different ways to create the patterns. I couldn’t hold my excitement! I knew about most of the techniques, but not the little details which not only make the results look much better, but also make the process much easier to work with.
Both Kato-san and his assistant were so kind and gave us so much attention and time. I deeply appreciate the patience they had with me asking lots of questions that then our friend Taka had to manage to translate for them and then vice versa!
Their way of working with the medium felt so natural and traditional yet from a young perspective. Thank you Aikaze and Kato-san for the opportunity, I will always remember that day <3
If you find yourself in Okinawa and are looking for a Ryukyu aizome / indigo dyeing workshop, we suggest that you get in contact with the people over at Aikaze (Japanese only)