Yoshiharu KONDO: Kondo Dyeworks
"It will take ten years to get the color you want. I want to pass down this technique and culture to young people and foreigners."
Kondo Dyeworks, whose workshop is located along the Onagi River, has a history of 70 years. While the florid Edo Komon (a type of Kimono distinguished by its fine pattern), a traditional pattern, was popular in areas located upstream of Kanda River such as Shinjuku and Nakano, it was also popular in Nihombashi and Fukagawa which were filled with wholesalers of plain dyed textiles. The previous owner, who was originally from Niigata, trained as a blacksmith in Kanda-kajicho and started Kondo Dyeworks in Fukagawa in 1951 after the war. While helping his father in the midst of rapid economic growth, Yoshiharu inherited the family business as its second generation owner.
Red, yellow, blue, purple, black. Yoshiharu mixes these five dyes in a jar, enabling him to create any color he wishes. However, creating an accurate hue is no easy task. Aside from this, silk, hemp and cotton all require different dyes, which means that the dye combination varies depending on the material. It takes ten years before materials can be dyed in the color you want.
During the height of the workshop, 10 craftworkers used to live and work here. But now, the third generation owner, Ichiro manages the workshop with his father. In the past, the workshop used to be very busy during annual events such as New Year, Shichigosan (a festival for children ages 7, 5 ,and 3) as well as entrance and graduation ceremonies. However, as the years went by, less and less people order dyed textile from them. At present, they have added original products such as plant-dyed scarves, book covers and pouches, which are now being sold at department stores and traditional handicraft exhibits. They also host study tours for nearby junior high school students, as they aim to convey the culture and craft of dyed products. Yoshiharu also said that foreigners also come and visit them.
This father-and-son duo is relentless in their pursuit of preserving traditional culture and craft while exploring fresh solutions in tune with modern lifestyle.
ADDRESS：1F 2-15-3 Kiyosumi, Koto, Tokyo, Japan
☎︎ +81 3-3641-2135