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."
Wisdom of making Japanese traditional "beni" color more brilliantBenibana (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).
After pounding benibana flowers like mochi, it is dried and solidified, which is called mochi bana.
Thread from karamushi plant is called "aoso". benibana dye will be more red colored after mixing benibana with karamushi
The ash of akaza plant is considered to be a good resource of strong alkaline content. It is added with banimochi.
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.
This landscape can be seen from 1st week of July to August.
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