tourism

Experience Indigo Dyeing at a Handweaving Studio

The Kurume Kasuri Craft of Ikeda Kasuri Kobo (1.5 hrs)

Indigo vats at Ikeda Kasuri Kobo (photo: Koichiro Fujimoto)
Dyeing cloth in indigo (photo: Koichiro Fujimoto)
Indigo vats at Ikeda Kasuri Kobo (photo: Koichiro Fujimoto)
The open glass-walled workshop of Ikeda Kasuri Kobo (photo: Koichiro Fujimoto)
Before and after dyeing tote bags in indigo

Kurume Kasuri has been woven for over 200 years in the southern part of Fukuoka Prefecture. Ikeda Kasuri Kobo of Chikugo City is one of the few weavers left that continue to use traditional indigo-dyed hand-woven methods to produce this craft. In this program, join fourth-generation owner Daigo Ikeda on a factory tour as he explains the craftmaking techniques and history of Kurume Kasuri. Afterwards, head to the workshop’s dye studio for an indigo dyeing experience. Learn about resist-dyeing techniques such as itajime (clamping fabric between wooden boards) and shibori (tying fabric with bands). Using these skills, dye an original tote bag from the Kyushu-Chikugo regional trading shop Unagi no Nedoko. You can also bring your own fabric and/or clothes to dye (additional fees may apply). We recommend this casual introductory course for those who want to try their hand at indigo dyeing and learn a bit about Kurume Kasuri.

  • Observe the traditional Kurume Kasuri techniques of indigo dyeing and hand weaving
  • Experience the beautiful changes of color that occur through indigo dyeing and fermentation
  • Dye your own Unagi no Nedoko tote bag or fabric/clothes you’ve brought along
  • Gain a deeper understanding of Kurume Kasuri by talking directly with craftmakers
  • Browse and purchase kasuri fabrics and other products made by Ikeda Kasuri Kobo
Daigo IkedaFourth-Generation Owner, Ikeda Kasuri Kobo
Fourth-generation owner of a weaving workshop that has been making indigo-dyed, hand-woven Kurume Kasuri in Chikugo City, Fukuoka Prefecture for over 100 years. After graduating from university, Ikeda worked as a salesman at the mentaiko pollack roe manufacturer Yamaya, before switching jobs and working at a towel manufacturer where he was involved in product development, quality control, and factory management. In order to pass on the craft of Kurume Kasuri onto the next generation, Ikeda also takes on various initiatives not bound by tradition, such as updating the workshop’s production systems and sales mechanisms.photo:Koichiro Fujimoto
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Kurume Kasuri: One of Japan’s Three Major Ikat Textiles

Kasuri is a weaving technique where pre-dyed yarn is used to create patterns in the warp or weft threads, or both. This technique, also known as ikat, is said to have originated in India and spread throughout the world, coming to Japan through Okinawa. Kurume Kasuri was invented around the year 1800 by a young girl named Den Inoue, a weaver from the former Kurume feudal domain (what is now an area in southern Fukuoka Prefecture that contains towns such as Hirokawa, Chikugo, and Yame). Though there used to be over 300 Kurume Kasuri weavers, today less than 20 remain. These makers employ a wide range of techniques, from traditional hand weaving and indigo dyeing, to production that uses power shuttle looms — this diversity in production a defining characteristic of the modern Kurume Kasuri craft.

The Kurume Kasuri of Ikeda Kasuri Kobo

A Glass-Walled Studio, A New Way of Working

Like many other workshops of its kind, Ikeda Kasuri Kobo used to outsource labor to workers called dashibata, who would carry out the weaving process at home during the farming off-season. However, the number of dashibata have declined due to an aging population and the shift to more compact housing arrangements making it increasingly difficult for many to keep a loom at home. In response, Ikeda Kasuri Kobo created an open, glass-walled workshop in 2017, where the production process is visible from the gallery-shop. They also created a system where weavers can drop by at their own convenience and weave as much as they like; Ikeda Kasuri Kobo then buys the woven fabric outright at a piece-rate basis. A diverse group of craftspeople, from veteran weavers to young mothers, come together here to continue the Kurume Kasuri craft.

The open, glass-walled workshop of Ikeda Kasuri Kobo

An Introduction to Kurume Kasuri

In this experience, Mr. Ikeda will first give a lecture on the history and craftmaking techniques of Kurume Kasuri. Afterwards, head to the gallery to take a look at kasuri fabric and visit the weaving workshop to see craftspeople at work. Making Kurume Kasuri is an elaborate process that involves over 30 steps and takes about three months to complete, making it fairly difficult to fully grasp in one day. However, weavers themselves will carefully explain each step of the process to help deepen your understanding of this complex craft. Through this introductory course, which offers indigo dyeing and resist-dyeing experiences, gain valuable insights into the rich world of Kurume Kasuri.

Kurume Kasuri fabric

Creating Beautiful Indigo Blue With the Power of Oxygen

First prepare for indigo dyeing. Using samples of Ikeda Kasuri Kobo’s past dye work as inspiration, design your own pattern by combining resist-dyeing techniques such as itajime (clamping fabric between wooden boards), shibori (tying fabric with bands), and folding. After the preparations are finished, move to the dye studio filled with vats of domestically produced Tade Indigo. Try indigo dyeing yourself while learning about the raw materials that go into indigo, the fermentation process, and how thread is tied and dyed to make kasuri yarn. It’s a special sight to watch the colors change from a dark green-brown to a beautiful indigo blue after dyed fabrics are exposed to oxygen. You can bring a piece of fabric/clothing about the size of a hand towel to dye at no additional cost. However, if you bring more than one item or objects larger than hand-towel size, please pay an additional fee on site.photo: Koichiro Fujimoto

Fabric changes from green to blue the moment it is taken out of the indigo and exposed to oxygen

The Steps of Indigo Dyeing

1) Wet with Water
Wet the fabric beforehand to make the indigo adhere better. (If you are bringing in a cloth with glue, please soak it in hot water beforehand to remove the glue.)
2)Resist-Dyeing
Design your own pattern by combining resist-dyeing techniques such as itajime, shibori, and folding. Mr. Ikeda will offer guidance throughout the process.
3)Indigo Dyeing
Take your prepared fabric to the dye studio. After a brief lecture on kasuri yarn tying and indigo fermentation, begin indigo dyeing.
4)Exposing Indigo to Oxygen
Wring out the fabric after removing it from the indigo vat. Its color changes from green to blue the moment it is taken out of the indigo and exposed to oxygen. Dyeing the fabric many times will create a deeper indigo color.
5)Finishing Touches
When you have achieved your desired color, rinse the fabric under running water, wring out the excess water, and hang dry to finish.

\Testimonials From Past Participants/

  • ・I was able to dye a tote bag with my own design — a unique experience that I would normally not have the opportunity to do.
  • ・It was fun to get my hands dirty with the indigo dyeing experience. I was really impressed by how the lecture in the first half of the program flowed well into the indigo dyeing experience of the second half.
Tour Code GFCK01
Dates Monday to Friday 14:00~
※ Please send us your preferred date(s) through the inquiry form. We will confirm availability with the workshop and notify you as soon as possible.
Duration 1.5 hours
Schedule
13:50

Meet at Ikeda Kasuri Kobo

14:00

Gallery, Workshop Tour, and Lecture.

While looking at Kurume Kasuri pieces at the Ikeda Kasuri Kobo gallery, join fourth-generation owner Daigo Ikeda on a factory tour as he explains the craftmaking techniques and history of Kurume Kasuri.
※On weekends, there may be times when there are no craftspeople in the workshop.
※To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the workshop tour will be conducted from the gallery, looking through glass windows into the workshop.

14:20

Indigo Dyeing Preparation

Dye an Unagi no Nedoko tote bag or your own piece of fabric or clothing. You can bring a piece of fabric/clothing about the size of a hand towel to dye at no additional cost. However, if you bring more than one item or objects larger than hand-towel size, please pay an additional fee on site.

※Additional dyeing fee (reference): shirt/shawl + 3000 yen
※Additional dyeing fees vary depending on the thickness, material, and shape of the fabric. Thus fees will be determined on site.

14:45

Indigo Dyeing Experience

Dye fabric in indigo vats.

15:30

Photo Time

If you wish, you can also purchase fabric and other kasuri products (cash, credit card, PayPay, GoTo Travel Coupon accepted).

Languages Japanese
Participants Minimum 2 / Maximum 6
(Groups of 7 or more can be accommodated. Please contact UNA Labs for more details.)
Meeting Place
Ikeda Kasuri Kobo Gallery
1840 Hisadomi, Chikugo-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture
※For those coming by car, please park in the Ikedo Kasuri Kobo parking lot next to the studio, designated by a sign.
※Please note that the gallery and workshop are located across the street from each other, and that the meeting place is the gallery (brown building).
Reservation Deadline Three days before the start of the tour (for example, please apply by October 7th for a tour that begins on October 10th)
Payment Method Advance payment by credit card (VISA, Mastercard, Amex,) through the application form sent upon confirmation of reservation.
Attire Please wear clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty.
Please note that you will be asked to remove all jewelry, watches, and accessories from your arms during the experience.
Tour Conductor None
Note about Tour Conductors There will be no tour conductor from UNA Laboratories accompanying this program. Customers are responsible for managing their own itineraries.
Please Note
  • The tour will be held even in the event of rain, barring cases of inclement weather such as heavy rain or a typhoon.
  • All of the photographs displayed on this website are for illustrative purposes only. Also please note that as the workshop is not a tourist attraction, the processes that visitors can see may change depending on the day, and there may be days when some machines may not be running.
  • Children of elementary school age and younger may participate in the tour with a parent or guardian. However, UNA Laboratories or Ikeda Kasuri Kobo shall not be held responsible for any injuries or accidents that may occur in the parking lot or during the tour. In particular, when touring the factory, please keep an eye on your child/children to make sure that they do not touch the machines.
  • We advise taking out domestic travel insurance when participating in this tour.
  • This tour may be cancelled in the event that its smooth implementation becomes difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the event of cancellation, the tour fee will be fully refunded.
Cancellation Policy 3 to 1 day(s) preceding the tour start date: 50% of the tour fee
Before departure on the tour start date: 100% of the tour fee
After the start of tour or no-show: 100% of the tour fee

UNA Laboratories COVID-19 Policy

UNA Laboratories is committed to ensuring the safety of our customers, staff, and community. In accordance with municipal, national, and industry guidelines for the prevention of infectious diseases, UNA Laboratories is implementing the following measures:

  1. 1. Guides will wear a face shield during tours.
  2. 2. Guests are requested to wear a mask.
  3. 3. Hand-sanitizing alcohol will be provided.
  4. 4. We will check your temperature and general physical condition at the start of the tour. UNA Laboratories reserves the right to refuse tour participation if a customer’s temperature is over 37 degrees Celsius.
  5. 5. We strive to maintain adequate social distance throughout the tour, so the maximum number of participants will be capped at six.

Travel Planning: Implementation

  • UNA Laboratories Inc. (Fukuoka Prefectural Governor Registration #2-951)
  • 3-12-22-302 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0022
  • TEL: 092-982-7956E-MAIL: tour@unalabs.jp
  • Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors:
    Aya Tamura, Noriko Yahata, Rei Watanabe
  • Business Hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays)
  • *Requests received outside of business hours will be processed the following business day.
  • *Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors are responsible for transactions held at the sales office that processes customers’ travel. Please do not hesitate to contact the aforementioned Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors with any questions or concerns regarding the travel contract.

Tour Information

Dates
Monday to Friday 14:00~
※ Please send us your preferred date(s) through the inquiry form. We will confirm availability with the workshop and notify you as soon as possible.
Duration
1.5 hours
Recommended Age
Suitable for All Ages
Price
Fee ¥4,800
(tax and material fee included)

※Participants under 12 years old (workshop tour only): free