Kyoto Indigo - Aizen Kobo & Gallery KeiMay 30, 2013
by Jessica Warner
While we were traveling in Japan I read in the Wall Street Journal that "shibori is the next ikat" in home furnishings. Shibori is certainly having a moment when you see the designs at West Elm, but these mass-produced knock-offs are far from the enduring Japanese tradition practiced by Kenichi Utsuki at Aizen Kobo. Aizen Kobo specializes in indigo dyeing and we were fortunate to spend an afternoon there during our Kyoto visit. At the back of the shop you can smell the pungent indigo vat, which requires constant tending! Its easy to appreciate the price of these naturally- and hand-dyed fabrics. Below are examples of shibori-dyed and sashiko-embroidered fabrics. The brilliant red is dyed with madder.
One afternoon we also raced down Teramachi Street to get to Gallery Kei before closing. Kei Kawasaki -- who is so friendly and knowledgeable -- specializes in Japanese bast-fiber textiles (made from plants and grasses). She has an excellent selection, including vintage indigo-dyed fabrics and katazome stencils. This neighborhood is also great for browsing.