Chizu Blue is a cooperative set up and run by local women, making indigo-dyed products the traditional way. At their bright studio, located in Chizu-cho, a post town deep in the Chizu Mountains, the members of the cooperative carefully grow indigo plants from seeds, separate indigo leaves and stems, make indigo dye, and dye fabric by hand. Japanese indigo is renowned for its rich crafting traditions and quality. The dye is fermented in vats over several months. When fabric is pulled from the dye it changes to deep brown and is then immersed in water, changing again to a vivid indigo blue almost instantaneously. This indigo blue, which is all-natural and completely plant-based, has been treasured by cultures all over the world since ancient times. To wear it is to wear the color of nature.
Chizu-cho was once home to indigo dyeing workshops in the old days, but they had long ceased to exist. That is until a group of local women began reviving the craft in 2005. They began growing indigo plants from Tokushima seeds, employing traditional harvesting processes.Indigo dye itself is environmentally friendly, so it is safe for the waters of the Sendai River which begins in the mountains where Chizu Blue is located, and runs through Tottori. The original members of the Chizu Blue eventually aged out of the cooperative. The torch was taken up by six women in their 20s - 50’s who currently run Chizu Blue, working comfortably according to their own lifestyles.