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Shimaai Plantation, A Slow, Serious Indigo Dyeing Workshop on Ishigaki Island
post : 2014.11.22 16:00
Shimaai Plantation on Ishigaki Island took the indigo dyeing that has been passed down on the island and redesigned it to make simple unique bags that could be used in city living.
It has a deep, rich expression but it is place importance on not making it to dark. The blue from Shimaai Plantation that gives a refreshing feeling with canvas material is taken from the Chinese indigo plant like it was in the old days of Ishigaki and it is dyed and redyed by hand to give it a true indigo color.
Based on how many times it is dyed will have an effect on the tint of indigo and the brilliant yellow was dyed from the plant garcinia. According the owners Go and Yuki Ohama the four stripe pattern with the white is what they normal use and is an original design.
As the name states, the workshop/shop is in the fields where they grow their own indigo and is 10 minutes by car away from their satellite shop in Euglena Mall in the center of town. It is differ from the Ryukyu indigo grown on Okinawa Island, the Chinese indigo called Hokugen can grow without being weak towards strong sunlight and sea breeze.
Taking the indigo and letting it ferment to become a dye is called “building indigo”. It is a nice way of calling it, but it is very labor intensive work. Especially at Shimaai Plantation, they use natural ingredients like flour, wood ash and rice bran to fuel the fermentation of the dye and have to mix the indigo once a day because if they use chemical agents the dye would hold longer and it would be cheaper and easier to dye but then you take the industrial waste out of the fields.
Ten years ago when the Ohamas started to build indigo there was no one who remembered how to do it. From then they used trial and error to build indigo.
Like salted bran, if you don’t put salt on indigo it will not decomposed. According to Masashige Takahashi who moved to Ishigaki to become indigo craftsman “Based on the temperature and humidity the qualities of the indigo and way of dying changes.” To get the deeper blue it needs to be dyed close to 30 times and they only dye two sheet of canvas a day. So Takahashi does the hand-dyeing and drying over and over to get the canvas same indigo color.
The bags and accessories made at Shimaai Plantation are an extremely slow product, from the setting up of the field to building the indigo to the dyeing and sewing all of which are by hand with great labor.
The Ohamas and Takahashi are making indigo in so that people in the inorganic cities can the feel the natural beauty of the island. If you are on a trip to Ishigaki Island, how about getting something that is authentic and handmade by the people of the island with the blessings of nature?
Address: 1493 Ishigaki, Ishigaki-shi
Operating Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm
Euglena Mall Shop Shimaai
Address: 205 Ogawa, Ishigaki-shi
Operating Hours: 11:00am-7:00pm
TEL: 0980-87-5580 (Both Shops)
Okinawa Clip Photowriter Aya Asakura