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Living colours

Naturally dyed Japanese fabric

Yoshioka Sachio inherited his family business, the Yoshioka Dyeing Workshop in Kyoto, and decided to remove everything synthetic and return to natural dyes. Much research and investigation, has resulted in the most wonderful colours, though the dyeing task is arduous and time-consuming. His daughter, Sarasa, is now taking over the running of the workshop, as a 6th-generation Yoshioka.

An exhibition at Japan House in Kensington, London, explored the work of this family. The Japanese have long had a deep appreciation of colour and a close relationship with their natural surroundings and the changing of the seasons, which is shown clearly in the work of these people.

This exhibition cleverly demonstrated this colour culture, using the careful creation of delicate colour combinations to bring the fabric to life.

Colours of Spring

Fabrics are draped from on high, grouped together to match the seasons and the plants that flourish at that time of year.

The layering of the colours is intended to recreate the language of kasane, a traditional Japanese concept of layering colour. This trend was visible in Japanese fashion as long ago as the Heian-period Japan 794-1185 CE).

The exhibition included a video showing the intense work required in the dyeing process, the beauties created and also the role of colour and nature in Buddhist ceremonies.

Peony and safflower colours


Copyright Debbie Smyth,  21 May 2019

Posted as part of Lens-Artists

12 replies »

  1. Oh my Deb, I just wanted to climb into your post to see and feel those luscious colors! Did they talk about prices? I’m sure they’re off the charts!


  2. The Japanese are highly sensitive to beauty and delicate deco. Be it gardening or …anything! This is a most delicious exhibition, beautifully photographed. Thank you so much for taking us!

    Liked by 1 person

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