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Sometsukasa Yoshioka 染司よしおか, A Botanical Dyer’s Atelier: Post #1

Written on June 12, 2009

Today’s post is on the Kyoto-based master dyer, Sachio Yoshioka.  Because of Yoshioka’s prominence in the field of botanical dyeing in Japan, and because he is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the history of textiles and color in Japan, I will post 11 postings in all on this renown color master and his studio, Sometsukasa Yoshioka, located in Uji, Japan.  The entrance to the studio is shown below, heralded by a simple noren of indigo dyed ramie.


To call Yoshioka a master dyer is an oversimplification of a very complex person whose expertise resides in many areas.

Dyeing is one area of expertise, but also is his understanding of the cultural history of ancient Japan, specifically the Nara (710-794 CE) and Heian (794-1185 CE) Periods where his incisive knowledge bores into the intricacies and manners of these two glorious periods of Japanese history.

Yoshioka has researched, written on and lectured extensively on topics related to ancient Japanese history.  Before taking over his family’s dyeworks, Yoshioka published countless titles on Japanese culture and textiles at his imprint, Shikosha, which is responsible for producing some of the best sources for studying Japanese cultural history in Japanese and English.


The photos below are various views of and vignettes to be found in the studio’s entrance way and meeting room.


On display in one of the rooms is a selection of historical, botanical dyestuffs, shown below.



Silkworm cocoons, loosely wrapped in newspaper, below.


A beautiful artwork by Yoshioka, a resist dyed indigo cloth scroll, below.



And an informal portait of Sachio Yoshioka, next to of one of his artworks, a screen of gradient yellow-to-red yarns.


This posting on this important man and his work is brief, but it is meant simply as an introduction.  In my next post we’ll go into the dyeworks to see color in action, and to talk more on Yoshioka and his world.

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Comments closed

  1. Comment by marie:

    fabulous! Can’t wait to see more.

    June 16, 2009 @ 8:02 am

  2. Comment by glennis:

    yes, i recently visited another botanical dye master in another area of Japan- his focus was different but his mastery and dedication to the art form similar. he is retired from a chemical dye company and for 20 years or so has been working with natural dyestuffs with an interest in mordanting and dyeing to produce the highest level of UV resistance possible with natural dyeing. he figures he has another 10-20 years to go before he has compiled all the info for publishing-he’s now 82 or so…

    June 16, 2009 @ 10:06 am

  3. Comment by Elena Phipps:

    (my previous comment got sent?before I finished it…)
    Mr. Sachio Yoshioka will be presenting a paper at the upcoming Textile Society of America symposium Lincoln, Nebraska, Oct 6-9, 2010.
    A special panel on colors and dyes.

    Please spread the word– this will be a great opportunity to meet him, along with other master dyers and dye historians.

    Elena Phipps (director at large, TSA)

    August 7, 2010 @ 11:37 am