In a land renowned for its craft culture, the Kanai Kougei studio has been perfecting the ancient art of mud dyeing which has existed for over 1,300 years. Located on Amami Ōshima, the largest of southern Japan’s Satsunan islands, there are only a handful of skilled artisans who still practice Kanai Kougei’s distinctive vegetable and mud-dyeing process.
Dorozome is a two-part dyeing process that starts by cutting Yeddo branches down to be boiled over a fire, creating a brown natural dye called Sharinbai. Textiles are repeatedly dunked in the Sharinbai, rinsed and then dunked in a mud pit, where the iron-rich soil creates a unique colour that can only be produced in Amami. This process is often repeated up to 80 times to create the final product.
The combinations of mud-dyed grey and vegetable-dyed colors including indigo give textiles an expressive depth.
The dedication to tradition and passion of these artisans is inspiring people around the world to rediscover these ancient techniques.