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The Link Between Japanese Samurai and Real Indigo

Real indigo-dyed clothing is not like the blue you know. Richer than the chemical blues used on most fabrics today, real indigo dye comes from a plant and has a surprising range of qualities: on fabric it is antibacterial, flame resistant and repels odor and dirt. With roots in Japanese culture dating back to the 1600s, indigo-dyed fabrics were worn under the armor of samurais to help keep bacteria from wounds. Today, five farmers keep the tradition of growing indigo alive in Tokushima, Japan.

Great Big Story shares how these farmers are continuing the craft of dyeing and screenprinting with indigo, known as aizome (藍染め) in Japanese, a centuries-old tradition that might go as far back as the 6th or 7th century.

And for a closer look at the coloring process, check out this hankerchief-video from Nippon.com:

Next, visit Yuasa Town: The Birthplace of Soy Sauce, Kanazawa, where gold leaf is made, Hakone for the art of Japanese marquetry, and many more videos across Japan.

Bonus: The Big Cloth (An Clò-Mòr): Weaving Harris Tweed.

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