About "ryukyu i"
琉球藍染工房: ryukyu i (Ryukyu Natural Indigo Dyeing Studio) uses dyes made from Okinawa’s own Ryukyu indigo plant to handcraft a wide variety of products, from traditional Japanese shop curtains (Noren) and working clothes (Samue) to products suited to modern lifestyles such as t-shirts and placemats, each handmade with love and care.
Ryukyu Indigo story
Our studio stands in one corner of a meadow surrounded by nature. Each day we feel the steady change of the seasons as we create our hand-dyed works of art using the clear water of the forest.
In Okinawa prefecture’s Motobu-cho, up in the mountainous slopes at the end of a twisting winding road cut into the red earth, there lies a vast field of Ryukyu indigo.The road is so small that vehicles are unable to pass each other, and during the rainy season when the Ryukyu indigo is harvested, the route over the final steep slope to the field is a difficult maneuver both coming and going.
Ryukyu indigo is a perennial plant belonging to the Acanthaceae family. It’s harvested twice a year, during the rainy season in May and June, and again during the winter months of October and November. On the same mountain local citrus varieties such as Tankan oranges and Taiwanese tangerines are also cultivated, and on clear sunny days the fragrant citrus are harvested, while the rains signal the beginning of the Ryukyu indigo harvest. The indigo plant grows to an average height of 90cm before it’s cut, and after harvest the remaining plants are kept in the shade to prevent withering. Before the cuttings can dry they are carried by truck to the dye-making workshop.
On the steep slopes of the field, dye-master Inoha Seishou is hard at work, taking care of the extremely delicate plants through rain or shine, now as ever devoting himself to the making of dye of unmatched quality.
At the Ryukyu Indigo-dye Studio, our dyes only use the precious indigo from Inoha’s dye workshop.
About the artists
平敷 慶彦 Yoshihiko Heshiki
Born into a family of artists with a father that did stencil dyeing and a mother that tie-dyed using Ryukyu Natural Indigo dye, Yoshihiko from his early childhood was surrounded by the world of dye craftsmanship. His works are known for their true-to-life realistic style, and he strives to create works that convey the feeling of flowing air. When taking a break from his art, Yoshihiko enjoys snowboarding, and is actively involved as a snowboarding coach with the Ski Association of Japan.
平敷 久美 Kumi Heshiki
Raised in the middle of Iwate’s natural environment, Kumi’s designs reflect this natural upbringing to fuse a sense of dynamism with innocent cuteness. In 2007 she built a studio in the middle of her parents’ farm, and has made this location the home base for her work. Her parent’s pioneering spirit can be seen as the starting point for Kumi’s style. Brimming with curiosity, Kumi enjoys surfing, skiing, snowboarding and many other interests.