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What is indigo dyeing?

"Awa Ai"

Speaking of indigo dyeing, I think there are quite a few people who think of Tokushima, the production center of "Awa Ai".

When you go to Tokushima, many indigo dyed products are sold as special products at souvenir shops, and there are tourist attractions related to indigo in the prefecture.

The reason why Tokushima is famous for indigo is that it is a good product of indigo dyeing (Aigusa: there are several varieties, but since Tateai is narrowly defined here, it is expressed as indigo). Because it was a special production area.


It is said that the indigo grass and indigo dyeing technology, which is said to be the oldest dye in humankind, was first introduced to Japan by migrants from China and the Korean Peninsula around the 5th century.

The existence of indigo plants can be seen in the literature in Awa, Tokushima Prefecture, in 1247 (the first year of Houji). It will be transmitted. After that, when Hachisuka Iemasa became the lord of the Awa domain in 1585 (Tensho 13), he made a special product by implementing a generous protection policy for the indigo grass that had already been cultivated. Get the driving force.


A beautiful milky green river called "Yoshinogawa" that runs through the prefecture flows through Tokushima. This Yoshino River was once a rampage river that flooded almost every year just before harvesting crops. While struggling with water control measures, indigo grass, which dislikes continuous cropping and requires a huge amount of expensive fertilizer to grow in good quality, can be harvested before the inundation period, and the inundation brings fertile soil from the upstream to the land. It was a crop with favorable conditions in this area because it was renewed. It was also successful that it was compatible with the climate of Awa.


The harvested indigo grass is made into "Aidama", which is made into a mortar and then crushed with a mortar to make it suitable for transportation and sales. It will be carried to and sold. Among them, the merchant who carries out everything from indigo cultivation to manufacturing of 蒅 and indigo balls, transports them by ship, and manages and sells indigo distribution consistently is said to have been called Daiai-shi in Awa.

The success of their excellent business talent was also a major factor in the prosperity of Awa Ai, who continued to monopolize the market for a long time.

 Furthermore, in the Edo period, cotton spread to the general public, and the demand for indigo dyeing increased. Under such circumstances, the special product Awa Ai was traded at a high price and made its name unwavering.

 Its prosperity continued until the Meiji era when Indian indigo and chemical dyes were imported and they emerged.


After various itineraries, the current situation is that synthetic indigo dyeing, chemical indigo dyeing, and a few natural indigo dyeing are mixed and sold as [indigo dyeing] in the market. Unfortunately, there is no difference in Tokushima, the country of Awa Ai.

 Even so, [Awa Ai] has become rare but still alive, being carefully protected by craftsmen and volunteers during the war and in the rough seas of history.

 In recent years, in order to continue to protect the existence value of Awa Ai, including the master, it is my only hope that there are not a few people who are making efforts.

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