What is aizome?

History of indigo dyeing

Indigo is said to be the oldest plant dye known to man, and only indigo can extract blue among plant dyes.
It is said that indigo dyed cloth was used for the mummies of Tutankhamen around 1300 BC, and it has been used since 2000 BC in India, which is the oldest main production area of ​​indigo dye.

Plants with indigo pigment are legumes, crucifers, and Polygonaceae. In India, indigo is a perennial plant in the legume family. In Europe, cruciferous ward, but later it seems that it was replaced by Indian indigo, which is cheap, easy to dye and easy to develop in Europe, and is no longer used.

In Japan, Tateai, which is native to Indochina, is said to have been introduced from China during the Asuka period (6th century). It seems that the oldest indigo dyeing in Japan was in 752 Buddha's eye-opening memorial service, mainly aristocratic clothing and indigo- dyed silk products.

In the Kamakura period (14th century), samurai called the darkest indigo dye "KACHI-IRO" and wore it under their armour to bring them luck to survive during Samurai wars. Then, in the Edo period (17th century), various things such as kimono, work clothes, japanese half curtains (NOREN) were dyed with indigo, and the city of Edo was full of indigo.

English Scientist Robert William Atkinson, who visited Japan in the Meiji era (19th century), praised Japan, which was all indigo, as "Japan, Blue" and Lafcadio Hearn (Yakumo Koizumi) who was a Japanese writer of Greek-Irish descent, as "Japan is a country full of mysterious blue"...

However, after that, due to the import of cheap Indian indigo and the import of chemically synthesised artificial indigo, Japan's indigo plant was in danger of extinction for a while. Due to Tokushima Prefecture's conservation incentives, Tateai is now produced as a craft crop, and natural indigo products are also produced.

Indigo dyeing chemical reaction

Since indigo is insoluble in water, the dyeing method is different from plant dyeing, and it is made ready for dyeing in the process of fermentation. Tateai contains a colourless substance called indican, and when the leaves are damaged or wither, a blue pigment called indigo is formed.

When indigo dyeing is performed, the indigo is fermented to make it water-soluble soak into the fibre, and when it is exposed to the air and oxidised, it returns to the indigo and develops a blue colour.

Benefits of Aizome

Aizome was imported to ancient Japan as a medicine for treating food poisoning, fever and for nutritional fortification.
It has since been shown to reduce amount of stress related Nitric oxide and Prostaglandin in the body.

Benefits of Aizome products


  • anti- insect properties
  • Anti-bacterial properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties

Fire Protection
Aizome dyeing makes fabrics fire resistant so they used to use as uniforms for fire fighters during EDO period.

Material Strength
Materials dyed with aizome have a 30% increase in strength as opposed to a 10% decrease in strength of fabrics treated with chemical dyeing Beside the sheer beauty of the finished product these are many reasons why people love aizome products so much.