BENITAMA, a workshop where visitors can experience traditional Okinawan “Bingata” dyeing, has opened in Itakura-ku, Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture. The workshop is recruiting participants for the hands-on class in hopes of creating a lively community.
Dyeing studio “BENITAMA” was opened by renovating the first floor of a house in Itakura-Ward, Joetsu City.
Courtesy of Tamaki Koizumi
Bingata” is one of the traditional dyeing techniques of Okinawa Prefecture, and is used for a variety of fabrics such as furisode (long-sleeved kimono) and fans. It is dyed using a mixture of pigments and soybean juice for coloring.
The workshop was opened by Tamaki Koizumi, a native of Itakura-ku, Joetsu City, who used to live in this house. Ms. Koizumi is 58 years old. She says she was fascinated by Bingata when she first encountered it 18 years ago in Osaka Prefecture, where she now lives.
I was impressed. It was really nice and beautiful. I was excited and thrilled. Bingata is free in its expression, and it matched my feelings.”
Mr. Koizumi opened his workshop to share the charm of Bingata in his hometown. Funds were raised through crowdfunding and other means.
One more thing, the opening of the workshop is also a reflection of his feelings for his mother, Yoshiko. Her family used to run a tofu shop, “Eshin Tofu,” until about 10 years ago, when her father and brother, who were both skilled tofu makers, died and the business closed down, leaving Yoshiko, now 88 years old, alone. Koizumi says that she would like to open a hands-on dyeing class at Benitama for her mother’s sake and play a role in creating a lively community.
I hope to spice up my mother’s life while I am away. Thanks to the support of the people in the community, my mother is still alive. Thanks to them, I can manage to come home from time to time, so I want to give back to the community.
I’m glad. I can work hard until my daughter comes back. The number of people in the village is decreasing and people are disappearing. I want it to be a place where everyone can come.
Koizumi plans to return home about one week a month from now on.
I want people to know Bingata. （I want people to get to know Bingata and become friends with my mother.
BENITAMA is recruiting participants for a hands-on class. In the class, you can experience “herb dyeing”. For more information, please visit Benitama’s Instagram （＠benitama_craft）