Okinawa Tourism Information:DyeingStudio“Karansha”WeavingwithThreadsDyedwithRyukyuIndigoPlantGrowninOkinawanSoil

Dyeing Studio “Karansha” Weaving with Threads Dyed with Ryukyu Indigo Plant Grown in Okinawan Soil

post : 2014.06.12 21:00

Old, beautiful streets still remain in Katsuren Haebaru in Uruma City, on the foot of the world heritage site “Katsuren Gusuku Castle Remains.” 

A sign saying “Karansha” hangs on a hinpun (a freestanding wall located just inside the gate to the garden that serves as a screen and as a charm against evil spirit).

Behind the hinpun stands a red-tile-roofed, old traditional house.  That is the dyeing studio “Karansha.”

I watched how the threads dyed with Ryukyu indigo plant winded onto the beam like a windmill.  I felt like as if I was looking into the world of kaleidoscope.   

When I was looking at old red tiles, old pillars, and well-thumbed handlooms, it felt a bit like slipping into the world of folk tales.

For a while, I soaked up the atmosphere like I slipped back in time.

Ms. Chika Miyara, a weaving artist and owner of “Karansha” grew up at a clothing store in the Kansai Region.  Having been surrounded by cloths since childhood, she was absolutely charmed by Indonesian handwoven kasuri (ikat) in high school, which triggered her to enter the world of weaving.

“When entering university, I, in fact, wanted to go to Indonesia,” said Ms. Miyara.

First, she looked for a university suitable for her in Japan. When she met with folk crafts in Okinawa, it made her heart jump for joy and she decided to go to a university  in Okinawa.  While she was looking for a master in weaving that she was aiming for, she studied under a pottery artist for making yachimun (pottery) for five years.  

Since then, she became conscious of “beauty of user-friendly.” 

During the days off from pottery work, she visited Kohama Island in Yaeyama, where she finally found a master in weaving she had aspired for. 

She moved to Yaeyama to start her world of weaving.

After working hard producing dyed fabrics in Yaeyama for several years, she moved to Uruma City.  She took several trainings at Okinawa Crafts Promotion Center and started her production activities in the red-tile-roofed house in Katsuren Haebaru in 2012.

 “In Yaeyama I cultivated Indigofera suffruticosa (West Indian indigo plants), which is suitable for Sakishima Islands (which include the Miyako Islands and the Yaeyama Islands).  But here in Katsuren it was difficult to cultivate them, so I have been using Ryukyu indigo plants cultivated in Yanbaru ooshittai (the big wetland at the border between Nago City and Higashi Village) for dyeing threads.

For fertilization, I use wood ashes instead of chemical soda.”

As I listened to her, I happened to look up to see a stole gently swinging in wind.   

A stole “Murubushi (Star Clusters)” is produced to create the image of starry sky in Yaeyama. 

It seems as if star clusters were falling in the deep night sky right in front of you.

Even the one single stole shows that the natural scenes which Ms. Miyara has seen in Yaeyama are woven into her works.

The word “Karansha” sounds unfamiliar to you.

She used the sounds of “「花」(“hana” but is also pronounced as “ka”) meaning “flower,” but in this case “trees and plants” and “「藍」(“ai” but is also pronounced as “ran”) as in “aizome (meaning “indigo dyeing”). 

Also when the weft is inserted in the loom, it gives out the sound “Karakaraa Shaan.”

She combined these sounds to name her studio.

The world of “Karansha,” where hemp or cotton threads dyed with Ryukyu indigo plants are woven into fabrics, is absolutely stunning landscapes full of nature that used to be shown on her eyes.     

Still now I remember the sound of her weaving sometimes.

If you would like to ask someone to weave something special for you, her dyed fabric is perfect for you.


Address: 152 Haebaru, Katsuren, Uruma City
TEL: 090-5720-9268 (Please call the shop before your visit.)

* You can purchase Karansha products in the following shops.

Tsunehide Workshop “Utsuwa-ya”

Address: 2748 Zakimi, Yomitan Village
TEL: 098-958-6251

Kudaka Mingeiten (Folk Craft Shop)

Address: 2-3-1 K2 Bldg. 1F, Makishi, Naha


Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer   Tetsumasa and Kozue Kono (monobox)