One of the ancient arts of Kyoto is dyeing raw silk with indigo, and we were fortunate to spend a morning with one of its few remaining masters.
This man, a fourth-generation practitioner of the art form, had recently been selected to create uniquely colored dyed silk for The Emperor. His work is considered to be a national treasure.
Upon our arrival at his home, he ushered us into the workplace his family has used for generations and demonstrated this ancient process. Using raw silk that had been woven by his wife and daughter, he immersed it into vats of indigo dye specially created from a crop grown on his land. Between each immersion, the raw silk was hung for 24 hours to air dry. This painstaking process was repeated 18 times to achieve the deep color necessary for his work, thus taking many days to accomplish.