In the mid-80's I lived in Osaka, Japan for about two years. During my time there, I would often take the train on weekends to Kyoto. There was a family - Mr. and Mrs. Takeda, whom I got to know, and they kindly took me 'under their wing'. Mrs. Takeda knew that I had a passion for indigo fabric and so, one day she took me to a shop in Kyoto that specialized in collectable fabrics. Indigo fabric was and still is a big part of Japanese culture. Traditionally and historically there was much indigo dying in Japan. There has also been a world-wide revival of indigo dying.
Here we are in Kyoto at the collector's shop. In the background you can see several woven cotton pieces that are dyed with indigo. Mrs. Takeda (in the floral dress) explaining to me some of the intricacies of the fabric.
The shop owner showing us a prized piece of indigo fabric.
A close-up of a small section of the fabric that has been repaired. There is a name for this in Japanese called boro, which means to patch a worn piece of fabric using another piece of fabric. Boro came about out of necessity in the nineteenth and early twentieth century as cotton fabric was hard to find in Japan. Rural workers would use pieces of fabric to patch their kimono and pants worn in the rice fields.
A larger piece of this very special fabric. I don't know what the reddish dye is, but it may be madder root. This piece is woven with cotton, and I assume is dyed with natural dyes, but am not certain. Nonetheless, it is a collector's piece.
A close-up of another specialty piece in a more delicate weave. Delicate colours, from natural dyes.
A close-up of a cushion cover. Delicate colours in natural dyes with alternating indigo.