People cultivating the future of Aomori

photo:Mr. Hisayuki Yoshida
Mr. Hisayuki Yoshida
Representative Director of Aomori Ai Industry Cooperative

Promoting all Aomori-made “Aomori Ai (indigo)” to the world

– What made you think doing “Aomori Ai”?

When I joined the Ai study group with my friend at Hirosaki University, I saw Ai flowers for the first time. As the pink flowers on the screen were so beautiful, I thought maybe I could start a business using Ai, by planting them on fallow fields which will also make a beautiful view. So we established “Aomori Ai Industry Cooperative” gathering 4 different industry companies including sewing which I own, printing, electric work, and embroidery, so that we could take advantage of our specialized skills one another.

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– People from various fields got together. What was good about it?

We are specialists of our own fields, but we didn’t know anything about Ai dyeing. Besides, we’ve never done Ai farming and everyone was a beginner about Ai. We know we would never be able to catch up with craft people who have the technique with hundreds of years of tradition. So we decided to forget about the stereotype of Ai dyeing and just tried everything which no one has tried yet, including dyeing leather and dyeing printed clothes or trees, to find something new from anything which seemed like potential. Since we all were the beginners, we could keep the unconventional ideas.

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Concentrating the Powers, and Established the Only-One Technique

– “Aomori Ai” was born from free-thinking and from breaking through the common knowledge. Tell us the feature of “Aomori Ai”.

After going through the trials and tribulations, we invented an original technique, to maintain the same quality no matter who do the work, by data management of all the procedure. It can create the employment of young people, and currently young women staff are working hard with the pride of their hometown.

Also, ”Aomori Ai” can dye 8 colors from indigo white to deep indigo, which helped to break through the stereotype of “Ai dyeing is only deep indigo”. At the exhibition in New York, the works were praised with the word “Beautiful!”, and our story how Aomori Ai was started, the usage of fallow fields and making the traditional culture back on track also received high praise. In the exhibition held at the department store in Tokyo, more than 30 well-known brand companies displayed Aomori Ai-dyed products such as denim, shirts and shoes which made the whole space colored with “Aomori Blue”.

– “Aomori Blue”…obviously beautiful. Can you tell us what’s going on next?

Since we all got together from different industries, we could discuss from our own points of view which created the brand new value. Last year, we visited Europe with the help of people. We had an opportunity to talk to the globally known brand company. We received praise about no pesticide Ai and the usage of fallow fields, but what they praised the most was Aomori Ai’s growth for becoming the project of Aomori, with support from local people and supporters. We would like to keep promoting “Aomori Ai” to the world by collaborating with various fields.

Our ancestors in Aomori utilized Ai various ways including Kogin embroidery, which made the original Aomori culture. By adapting new ideas into tradition, Aomori Ai is establishing Aomori’s value as “Good to buy” with gaining global recognition.

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