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Kaki Shibu Dyed Textiles

Written on November 28, 2009

Today I am showing some textiles that were “dyed” in the fermented juice extracted from unripe persimmons; this extract, called kaki shibu in Japan, yields a highly recognizable brown color when applied to cloth, paper and wood.

Kaki shibu was very widely utilized in old Japan as it was easy to apply and its benefits were useful: kaki shibu strengthened  the material it saturated, rendered it somewhat waterproof, and was also said to contain anti-bacterial properties.


Here we see a group of antique sakabukuro, or cotton bags that were saturated with green persimmon tannin and were used to filter crude sake.  If cloth is dipped many times in kaki shibu, a leathery look results from the build-up of layers of kaki shibu.

Since sakabukuro were used and re-used many, many times over a period of several years, they required mending.  The mending stitches on sakabukuro are unmistakable, and the more mending there is, the more attractive the bag–in my estimation, that is.


Below is a detail of the resist-dyed  noren or door cover which is shown in full in the photo at the top of the blog.  It is beautifully worn and faded, and it is discussed a bit more in detail, here.


If you are interested in kaki shibu,  have a quick look at this website who supplies the tannin and offers workshops.

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  1. Comment by Kit:

    This is so interesting. I love the warm brown color. The paper used for katazome stencils, shibugami, is also treated with persimmon tannin. It is a delicious brown color, and smells lovely too. I was amazed to learn (and experience) how the stencil is strengthened by soaking in water before use. Thanks for the info and link.

    December 6, 2009 @ 11:58 am

  2. Comment by nat:

    I know this is an old post, but I only discovered kaki shibu andsakabukuro on my last trip to Japan so when I posted about it on my blog I link it to here. I hope it’s ok – Hugs Nat

    June 30, 2011 @ 8:30 pm