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Hand-dyed Clothing & Accessories

Mori-san's Laughter Would Cheer Up Any Rainy Day

Nellie Davis

Mori-san's Laughter Would Cheer Up Any Rainy Day

About one year ago on a rainy, dreary day (not much unlike today) I visited Mori-san, a 4th generation indigo-dyer, at his home and studio in Yasu, Shiga Prefecture. Mori-san, his wife, and his son, who will continue the Mori family tradition into the next generation, live their lives in harmony with the life cycle of the indigo plant. They sow the indigo seeds in spring, around the time of the Spring Equinox, harvest the plants, dry and sort the leaves and stems in summer. When all of the leaves are gathered in a pile in the shed, they pour a little bit of sake on the leaves and lower their heads in thanks. From September through December, they repeatedly pour water over the leaves to promote fermentation and decomposition. Only when the leaves eventually become “sukumo,” a dyestuff, in about three months, can they start dyeing with it. Despite the hard, laborious, all-year-long work it takes to keep those indigo dye pots alive and healthy, Mori-san, a man of at least seventy years old, had the spirit of a young boy with a laugh that filled every nook and cranny of the earthy smelling dye-room. March, 2012; Yasu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.