off-the-beaten Kyoto (6) landscape for producing "ubai", carbonized plum fruit

by Chisato - Japan Licensed Guide
(10) Reviews

A hidden village of plum, Tsukigase, Nara prefecture

Taking train for an hour from Kyoto city, the hidden valley of Tsukigase village is known as a village of plum trees. However, it is hardly known that the plum tree was originally planted for processing "Ubai", carbonized plum fruit, used as a color fixing mordant. 

"Most residents here were producing ubai, approximately 400 producers."

 
Said the last producer of ubai, Mr. Nakanishi.
 
Once, ubai had been a main industry in this area, since Edo samurai period. To make good plum, village people planted Joshuhaku, a variety of plum tree, which is bigger and easier to process.
 
After the Meiji revolution, ubai producers have been forced to close their business, due to the introduction of chemical dye.
off-the-beaten Kyoto (6) landscape for producing "ubai", carbonized plum fruit

Wisdom of making Japanese traditional "beni" color more brilliant

Benibana (safflower, Carthamus tinctorius) is one of the oldest dye in Japan, and it is found out that benibana was used in 6th century in Nara.

Benibana has two pigment colors; yellow and red. To extract red color, called "beni" in Japanese, people used ash of akaza plant (Chenopodium album var. centrorubrum), and karamushi plant (Boehmeria nivea var. nipononivea).
 
○mochi bana 
After pounding benibana flowers like mochi, it is dried and solidified, which is called mochi bana.
 off-the-beaten Kyoto (6) landscape for producing "ubai", carbonized plum fruit
○karamushi
Thread from karamushi plant is called "aoso". benibana dye will be more red colored after mixing benibana with karamushi
 off-the-beaten Kyoto (6) landscape for producing "ubai", carbonized plum fruit
○akaza 
The ash of akaza plant is considered to be a good resource of strong alkaline content. It is added with banimochi.

○ubai 
The last component is ubai. It contains high acid content, and mitigate strong alkaline water. After added with banibana dye, the beni color will be more vivid.
 off-the-beaten Kyoto (6) landscape for producing "ubai", carbonized plum fruit
 

Making ubai

1. First, plum tree is covered with soot, called susu in Japanese. Nakanishi san get susu from neighbors, who are still burning wood for cooking.
 off-the-beaten Kyoto (6) landscape for producing "ubai", carbonized plum fruit
2. fumigate plum fruits for 24 hours
off-the-beaten Kyoto (6) landscape for producing "ubai", carbonized plum fruit 
3. dry under the sun for 1 month
 off-the-beaten Kyoto (6) landscape for producing "ubai", carbonized plum fruit
 

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08 Jul 2017

Chisato

Licensed Guide
(10) Reviews

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