Traditional Indigo Dyeing Workshop at Nihon Minka-en

Traditional Indigo Dyeing Workshop at Nihon Minka-en

Sally Chow

Want to own a unique handkerchief, bandana or T-shirt? Here comes a chance! By joining the traditional Japanese indigo dyeing workshop in the Japan Open-air Folk House Museum (Nihon Minka-en), you can have this fabulous experience. Even beginners can try indigo dyeing and make their own unique designs.

What is Indigo Dyeing?

Indigo, which is a natural dye extracted from the leaves of certain plants, is commonly known as the oldest dye used for coloring fabrics and jeans. And in this workshop, you can use indigo dyeing to create a handkerchief or bandana with unique patterns.

How Indigo Dyeing Works

Step 1: Create the pattern
Several utensils are provided in the workshop, such as rubber bands, strings, film tubes, etc. Before designing your own patterns, a brief introduction and demonstration will be shown by the organizers. Visitors can design their patterns afterwards.
Items for making patterns in the dyed material The fabric before dyeing
If you want to make dotted patterns, film tubes should be used. For people who would like to create multifarious patterns, just develop your own imagination! But you can never imagine what your work will be like until you see it in the final step.
Step 2: Submerge your handkerchief or bandana into the vat
The indigo is held in large vats. The vats are the ones with covers in this picture.
Indigo vats in floor
Submerge your designed handkerchief or bandana into the vat slowly. Make sure you put on your gloves first before doing so. Once it’s submerged in the dye, continue moving the fabric gently for several times so as to let the unbound parts dye evenly.
Step 3: Let the fabric oxidize
Take out your fabric from the vat and let it oxidize for a while. The fabric should be a green colour. Once the fabric is exposed to air, it will turn into blue gradually. Remember not to remove your gloves.
Step 4: Repeat Step 2 and Step 3 twice.
It is okay for you to remove some of your designs like strings, film tubes, rubber bands, etc. during the indigo dyeing process. By doing so, the patterns will have different colour changes. Some will be navy blue while some will be light blue.
Step 5: Remove all the utensils
Step 6: Remove the fabric from the vat and squeeze it in water for five to ten seconds
Step 7: Put the fabric into the drying machineAfter getting it dry, you can see your fabric! Unbelievable though it is, multifarious unexpected patterns can be demonstrated in the end!
Handkerchief dyed with indigo
This is the handkerchief I made!
Don’t hesitate to join this wonderful workshop and make your own fabric!

Points to Note:

  • Remember to bring a pair of plastic gloves to prevent your hands from getting stained
  • Bring a plastic bag for the finished fabric
  • If possible, wear dark-colored clothes and trousers as well as a pair of unwanted shoes

Opening Hours:

9:00-17:00 (From November to February: 9:30-16:30) *Closed on Mondays (Open when a national holiday falls on a Monday) *Closed from 29 Dec to 3 Jan

Admission Fee:

Free (If you enter Nihon Minkaen, you have to pay an admission fee.)

Prices for Hands-on Workshop on Handkerchief-Dyeing:

  • Handkerchief: ¥620
  • Bandanna (meaning “Kerchief” in English): ¥820
* Please make a reservation in advance * Reservation is required for 5 or more than 5 participants

Transportation:

  • 20-minute walk from Mukogaoka-yuen station of Odakyu line South Exit
  • 5-minute walk from Senshudaigaku-mae after 10-minute bus ride from Mukogaoka-yuen station

Address:

7-1-3 Masugata, Tama Ward, Kawasaki City, 214-0032 Tel: 044-900-1101 If you want further information, please see the Dento Kogeikan website.