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Entries in plant dyes (3)


a note on plant names in japanese

the japanese language uses three writing systems, the pictorial kanji, and 2 phonetic syllabaries: hiragana and katakana.  japanese is primarily the combination of kanji and hiragana. katakana is used for emphasis and foreign loan words. it's also used for scientific names, including plant species, so the words for dye plants are written with kanji or katakana. in an effort to make it easier to look up further information, i've tried to include all the ways of writing plant names whenever possible.


isbn 9784766204292 plant dye book 草木の染色工房

this book is a comprehensive reference of plants used for natural dyeing. it includes photos of the plants growing, the flowers, and the results of dyeing with a variety of mordants.

128 pages.


natural plant dying at oohara kobo 大原工房(おおはらこぼう)

this is the view of oohara kobo, 大原工房(おおはらこぼう) a plant dye workshop in oohara, 大原(おおはら) which is a small town an hour north of kyoto. they offer both natural plant dyeing and natural indigo dying, which i've included in the indigo workshop journal.

oohara kobo 大原工房 おおはらこうぼう

address: 327 Kusao-cho, Ohara, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City 京都府京都市左京区大原草生町327

phone: 075-744-3138

hours: 9:00a.m.-5:00p.m; closed: wednesday; no website

*from 500 yen, you can dye a hankerchief, or you can choose from a variety of silk scarves, etc. it's also posible to bring your own items to dye. since the dying takes place outdoors, it's only possible to do during summer when the weather is mild.

access: from kyoto JR station, take kyoto city bus number 17 towards oohara (大原) 57 minutes, alternativiely, you can take kyoto city bus number 19, which leaves from 地下鉄烏丸線国際会館前駅 subway station and takes 22 minutes to reach oohara. when you arrive in oohara, it's a 20 minute walk.

i was really excited to try their dye course (summer 2007). my mom and i stayed overnight at a nearby traditional japanese onsen ryokan, and went here on sunday morning. it was great. the owner spoke some english, and gave us lots of information (more so when we kept asking detailed questions!).

this is the view from their back porch, with dyed cotton hanging.
inside the shop/example area of the workshop, showing all the scarves and colors available.
in the dye shed, with the proprietor at the stove. he was a very entertaining fellow.

yarn dyed with loquat, or japanese medlar, or biwa びわ in japanese.
madder plant (grown very very locally). in japanese akane.

traditional cotton spinning wheel in use. they grow a small amount of their own cotton.

oohara is an easy day trip from kyoto, with beautiful scenery and a very lovely temple.