top of page

On the Map 2022, #3 Aibatake (琉球藍染め 藍ばたけ) in Okinawa, Japan

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

This is a story about Aibatake Studio which is a Ryukyu indigo dyeing & farming studio located in Okinawa, Japan.

1. Location & Environment

Our region has a subtropical climate, and our field is surrounded by trees in the mountains. The indigo plants we are growing need damp and shade conditions, and can’t stand cold and sea wind. We shade our field with trees or shading nets, and take care not to dry the soil.

This type of indigo plant can grow naturally under banana trees or in the thicket, if conditions are right.





All photos were submitted by Yumiko Fuji from Aibatake

2. Indigo plants & practices

We are growing indigo plants called Ryukyu-ai(琉球藍) in Japanese.

Ryukyu-ai means Assam-indigo in English.

The scientific name is Strobilanthes Cusia. It is a plant of the Acanthaceae family.

This plant is mainly cultivated in subtropical regions and in highlands in tropical regions.



学名は Strobilanthes Cusia、キツネノマゴ科の植物です。



When Ryukyu-ai grows about 60cm tall, we cut the roots of the stem and harvest.

The harvest season happens twice a year, around June and October. Harvested stumps regenerate and are harvested again in the next season.

We harvest around 40 - 50kg at one time, and 15 or more times in one season if it's a bumper crop.





Making indigo paste / 泥藍づくり

Harvested indigo plants are immersed in water and fermented.

Fermentation is carried out over 1 to 3 days, depending on water temperat