I was surprised to know that Kusaki zome (草木染め, a method of dyeing with plants' roots, flowers and seeds), is actually not only with plants, but also with vegetable skins and insects.
Ever since the Heian (平安) period, Kusaki zome method has been traditionally employed for creating gorgeous Kimono (着物) such as Juni-hitoe (十二単, 12 layered kimono for noble women). It is said to be impossible to reproduce exactly the same color by this method, because the color tones are very unstable with this method in comparison with chemical dyes. Therefore, the production process is truly time consuming and the products are very expensive.
In the Heian period, learning the sense of seasonal transition and wearing suitable Kimono was considered as an very important manner. However, considering the fact that ordinary people had no choice other than wearing clothes made of raw material as is, it could have been a refined manner only for noble people.
Today, now that we can wear any color as we like, I would like to try as many colors as possible. Since Kusaki Zome Kimono and Obi are still very expensive, it would be nice to start with accessories such as Obiage (帯揚げ, a sash between Kimono and Obi to hide strings). Please enjoy the world of soft colors of Kusaki Zome.
Click here to see a Blog by a Former Maiko, "Do You Know?"