BUAISOU ブルックリンで見つけた日本人の姿 BUAISOU Brooklyn on their Japanese roots, creativity and passions

知り合い曰く、僕は方向感覚が全くないみたい。BUAISOUの工場に向かったときでも、すごく迷っちゃった。やっと田舎のどこかに着いて、ブルーの制服を着た人が一服している姿を見かけ、ほっとした。そしてようやくBUAISOUに着いた。BUAISOUは渡邉健太氏と楮覚郎氏が2012年に作ったブランド。デニムを染めるため、加工藍染めではなくて、蒅(すくも)という天然の藍染めに憧れ、藍作で有名な徳島県上板町に移住した。そのあと、上板町の農家さんの下で勉強し、その技術をアメリカに持って行った。

Now anyone that knows me knows that if I am given directions, I can either do very well finding my way, or do very awful finding my way. When I met up with the crew of BUAISOU, the latter happened. In a rustic area, I had finally stumbled upon the building that houses the brand. Luckily, I saw a man with a blue work coat and blue hands taking a smoke break, and that’s when I knew I was in the right place. BUAISOU started with Kenta Watanabe and Kaji Kakuo in 2012. They were both searching for a place of inspiration to begin their journey for natural indigo dye, and they found a town famous for exactly that, named ‘Kamiita’ in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan. The duo set out right away to study under the native indigo farmers.

工場に入り、スタジオ・ディレクターの遠山清香さんに会う。「渡邉さんとは2年前に初めて会いました。仲間と一緒に四国のものづくりをプロモーションしにきていました。私は当時、Airbnbでアパートを借りてて、渡邉さんがお客さんでした。最初の夜、蒅のワークショップをやりましょう!って渡邉さんが言いましたが、あまりに急すぎて、人が絶対来ないと思いました。しかし驚いたことに、70人も来ました。なので渡邉さんが帰国したあとでも、教えてくれたやり方でワークショップをやり続けて、どんどん人気が出ました。そして去年の4月からここのスペースを借りることになりました。」と遠山さんが語った。

As I had walked into the industrialized labyrinth, I had a surge of excitement, interest and pure curiosity about the world of indigo and the process of BUAISOU’s famous ‘Japan Blue’ color. I walked in shyly and met Sayaka Toyama, one of the helping hands of BUAISOU and the director at their Brooklyn branch. “I met Kenta two years ago and things just sort of happened organically,” Sayaka recalls. “He had just come to New York with another group of young people who were promoting local craft in Shikoku. I was letting out my apartment through Airbnb, so I let him stay there. He turned up with an indigo vat saying he wanted to do a workshop, but it was such short notice! So I said “okay we can do it in my living room”. I only had two days to promote, but somehow seventy people showed up in just two days.” To her dismay, the workshop was a huge hit, “After that I kept the vat, and since he taught me all the methods I kept doing workshops by myself. Press and brands started to turn up, so then we decided to make a go of it big time and started renting this space out last April.”

果たして、蒅の歴史は?昔は徳島県で約1,800軒の蒅の農家さんがいた。現在は、5軒しか残ってなくて、BUAISOUは6軒目。BUAISOUのチームは、新居修という6代目の名人先生の下で勉強した。普通だと、蒅を作る人と実際に生地を染める人は違うがBUAISOUは全部する。地獄建という伝統的なやり方で、まずは、木灰にお湯を入れて一晩置いた灰汁(あく)をつくる。蒅に灰汁、石灰、ふすまを入れると、バクテリアが活性化し発酵が始まる。トータルでだいたい10日ぐらいかかる作業だ。

With much eagerness in my mind, I wondered how this vat process worked and where the idea of Japanese blue originates from. Back in the heyday two hundred years ago there used to be 1,800 ‘Sukumo’ farmers in Tokushima, but now only five farmers are now left in the town, with the sixth farmer BUAISOU being located in Tokushima and New York. Watanabe and Kaji learnt from a master by the name of Osamu Nii, who is a sixth generation family farmer. Normally indigo dyers buy the Sukumo dye directly from the farmers, but with BUAISOU they do everything in-house. They use a traditional method called ‘Jigokudate’, which means “hell vat”. The recipe comprises of wood ash water (burned wood with hot water poured over it) - a highly alkalized solution that is left to sit overnight. This is then poured into the vat containing sukumo (fermented indigo leaves), and calcium hydroxide and wheat bran is added in to finish. The calcium hydroxide gives a boost of alkaline and the wheat bran works as a source of sugar to feed bacteria. The mixture is then stirred, which activates the bacteria and re-ferments, leaving the vat of dye ready to use. The process takes roughly 10 days.

こういった難しいやり方を誇りにしているBUAISOUのクリエイターの結城研さんは、「ナチュラルな藍染めは加工のものより歴史が長いし、めちゃくちゃ強い。本当に何千年の豊かな歴史を持ってる。例えばもし人間が絶えても、蒅はたぶん大丈夫。それって、すごくかっこいいと思う。」と言う。話でチームがよく熱くなる。「岡山はデニムの故郷かもしれないですけど、インディゴといえば徳島ですよ!皆さんもっと徳島県に行ってほしいです。」と遠山さんが言った。

There is a strong sense of pride, in part thanks to these lengthy steps. Ken Yuki, who makes up a quarter of the BUAISOU brand boasts, “Natural dye has a much longer history than synthetic dye – I’m talking thousands of years. I feel like we’re making something that can live forever, even if humans become extinct”. One thing these artisans do not want you to get mixed up at all is where indigo originates from. “Okayama is the city of jeans and we appreciate what they do, but Tokushima is the home of indigo!” Sayaka explains. “We are hoping that people will go to visit Tokushima - that’s where indigo color is born.”

アメリカでも日本でも、最近の若者たちはDIYの考え方に注目している。BUAISOUでも、生地を染めてみたい人からのメールが毎日入る。ただ、そんな簡単ではない。「生地を染めるのは、本当に最後の最後でやることです。その前はいろんなステップがあって、みんなが想像する以上にタフ。藍の葉を刈り取ることから、インディゴの発酵まですごく時間や努力が必要なんです。」と遠山さんが説明してくれた。結城さんも「本当に長いです」と頷く。「本当にハングリーなら、必死に努力して、夢を自分で叶えることが必要だと思う」とさらに強調した。僕は、どうやって夢を叶えればいいかと聞くと、「周りの人に、どんだけ本気なのかをちゃんと伝える。俺は自分の将来のプランを親に伝えたときに、親としてじゃなく同じ大人として話した。俺の人生だし、やりたいよって。落ち着いて周りの人に話すことが大事。ただ、言葉より実際に見せたほうが大事だから、頑張ってください」と結城さんが言ってくれた。

Young Americans and Japanese alike are becoming more interested in the DIY ethic of the BUIAISOU brand. Even if this is so, Sayaka comments, “Dyeing is a very small process of what the indigo farmers do. We receive a lot of enquiries from people wanting to try dyeing for themselves, but BUIAISOU is not just about the end process. There is a whole line of work before that that has to be completed.” With similar sentiments, Ken chimes in, “It’s more than just about dyeing fabric – there’s a whole process from farming the leaves to making the dye. It’s really hard-going. I think if young Japanese people really are hungry to create something, then they should work hard by all means to make their own dreams reality.” When I asked how, Ken replied, “Tell the people around you how serious you are. When I talked to my parents about my future, I made sure to view them on equal ground as human beings rather than parents. I told them it’s my life and I want to do this. Just tell those important to you how committed you are and make sure to follow through.”

工場で夕方を迎え太陽が下がり始めた。思い浮かんだのは、今の若者たちの半分はBUAISOUほど熱烈なら、ものすごい世界になってるんだなって。

As the afternoon was winding down and the sun sank in sky, the thought came to mind that if half of the modern day young generation were as passionate as the BUAISOU crew, there would be a lot of amazing accomplishments in this world.

アンディー ジャクソン ANDY JACKSON

アンディー ジャクソン
ブロガー/大学生

日々、都会を探検しているデラウェア州大学に通う現役大学生。ブログ「Le Homme Journal」にて定期的に配信。日本の文化やアメリカのライフスタイルを自身のフィルターを通して国際的な「おしゃれ」を世界に発信している。

ANDY JACKSON
blogger/university student

Andy Jackson is a man about town. he is writing for his blog 'Le Homme Journal' or heading to class at Delaware State University. Andy's biggest hope is to bring more of a unique approach to introducing American culture to the Japanese, through his own love of Japan providing a window into both worlds.

Tokyo by way of New York

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