|Shop worker hands|
Located in the Taito district of Tokyo, the Wanariya workshop is tucked away on a small street with a relatively inconspicuous sign written in Japanese. It's actually a little hard to know you're there, but then you smell it - the unmistakable and unique scent that I came to know as Aizome, or Japanese indigo dye.
"Japan blue" was first coined in the 19th century by British chemist R.W. Atkinson to describe the deep shade of blue achieved by Aizome, a process that dates back in Japan almost 1500 years. In fact, there are almost 50 different shades of Japanese indigo, but in modern times we're used to seeing Aizome in Japanese brands like Blue Blue Japan, Japan Blue, Kapital, and other specialists that have come to shine a spotlight on Japan as the premiere manufacturer of indigo dyed clothing in the world.
After poring over Styleforum's trip to Japan trying to map out my own last year, one of the things I knew I had to do the minute I came across it was to visit an Aizome workshop. However, with wife in tow I knew I wouldn't be able to take a long trip out of central Tokyo as the StyFo crew had to the outskirts of the city. After some research I found Wanariya, and it was with a lot of excitement (and a little trepidation) that we made our way to the workshop on one of our last days in Japan.