You thought your jeans were indigo – THIS is indigo!

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Your blue jeans don’t hold a flame to Japanese indigo. The true-blue plant dye, Persicaria tinctoria, harvested in Japan, makes clothes fire resistant, bacteria resistant, and was once worn under the armor of samurai. It’s a species of flowering plant in the buckwheat family.

Japanese Aizome (indigo dyeing) is characterized by a deep blue color that is also called “Japan blue.”  It has been treasured by Japanese people since ancient times, and it is now used for modern items such as jeans or sweaters. There are records of indigo plant cultivation dating back to the 6th century. Originally, it was used only for aristrocrats or samurai, however, by about the 17th century, it had spread to the common people, and various household items were being dyed with indigo, including kimonos, hand towels, and bedding. Since indigo has antibacterial and insect repellent effects, and is also effective for preventing odors, Aizome clothing was appreciated as a remedy for skin trouble or eczema, while repelling insects.

Watch the video, but beware – the narrator has ‘vocal fry’ – an irritating and affected manner of speech prevalent in young women who weren’t taught any better.