September 1, 2019
by Saki Hirota
Kyoto has been the center of Japanese culture since ancient times. Long ago, it needed to produce clothing for the royal court. Using water from the Kamogawa River, dyeing colors were vivid and of high quality. In Kyoto, there are different methods of dyeing fabrics. One style of dyeing in Kyoto is tie-dye.
There are many countries that do tie-dye. Japan, however, is famous for its own style, called Kyo-dye. Kyo dye is generic name to dyeing in Kyoto. One form of Kyo dye is Shikanoko dye, which was connected with nobility in ancient times.
Tie-dye is created by making knuckles, or knots, in a cloth before dyeing begins. This prevents the penetration of dye for that part for the cloth. Also, this results in a unique pattern on the cloth after dyeing is finished.
There are actually many different tie-dye methods. Some say there are over 100 types in Japan. This includes some that create an uneven and three-dimensional effect on fabric’s surface. What makes tie-dye special is the unique bleeding and blurring that occurs. For example, if you tie-dye 100 different cloths, each one will be different from all the rest. This is particular and unique result of tie-dye.
History of Tie-Dye
The history of tie-dye is very long. Originating in India, tie-dye was transmitted through the Silk Road to Japan in the 6th and 7th centuries. From that point, dyeing technology evolved in Japan. In the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568~1600) stitch-resist dyeing was employed. It is a dyeing technique called Tsujigahana, which means “flowers at the crossroads.” There is also a method of dyeing called dappled. It was popular in the Edo period and became highly developed. It is a type of dyeing common in Kyoto in which the cloth is wrung or twisted during the dyeing process, which produces a cloth that has dappled spots.
This shop was built in 1929, and does traditional tie-dye, or Kyo-dye. Mr. Keiji Nishimura is the owner. This shop name is Workshop Nishimura. This shop is very old and small, as it is a family-run business. They make and sell tie dye products. For example, we can buy scarves, T-shirts, handkerchiefs, etc. Furthermore, we can experience a making our own tie die. It is very easy and enjoyable.
Preferences of Nishimura Tie-dye
Many customers wonder if it is possible to use vegetable dyes in the tie-dye process. The method of dyeing in which dye is made or taken from vegetation is called kusakizome. The answer is no. Basically, Nishimura uses chemically synthetic dyes. This is the most famous and popular method, so Nishimura tie-dye uses this method.
We can experience making our own tie dye at Nishimura Workshop. This is especially popular with Japanese children and foreigners. Along the way, customers learn the techniques of tie dye while making their own tie dye item. Afterwards, the items are mailed to the customer’s house when the items are finally dry. So it takes several days to receive them.
The name of the experience is Kyoto Shikanoko Dyeing. It takes 40 minutes ~ 2 hours.
There are four types of items you can make:
『Large format handkerchief』1500〜
Up Gojo-cho 392, Omiya Tori Matsubara, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto city in Kyoto
Open: AM10:00- PM7:00
Closed: Irregular holidays