City of water ・ Gujo Hachiman Traditional Ai-zome “Gujo Honzome, Shokichi Watanabe”

City of water ・ Gujo Hachiman Traditional Ai-zome
"Gujo Honzome, Shokichi Watanabe"


The 14th Anpei Hishiya

Gujo Hachiman, the region located on the upstream of Nagara River. It is the city blessed with clear streams where rivers flowing from the Okumino mountains come together.
Yoshida River is one of such rivers, and its water is drawn to canals stretched all over the city. The water is stored in water tanks called “”mizubune””, and is still used in people’s daily lives today.
Because of its location with the blessings of water, Gujo Honzome “”ai-zome”” is a culture which has been rooted in the region for a long time.
Shokichi Watanabe has devotedly worked on “”ai-zome”” for 50 years since 1954, and succeeded the legendary name of Anpei Hishiya. He is still keeping the traditional techniques passed on from the Edo period as the 14th generation.

Nothing but deep, deep indigo

Watanabe dyes his fabrics at least 10 or more times for his “”ai-zome””. Therefore, the indigo color is deeper than typical fabrics, and the more you use it the deeper and tasteful the color becomes. It is the type of fabric that you want to cherish and use for a long time.

Watanabe is a man of great achievement who succeeded the tradition of Gujo Honzome, and in 1977 was designated Important Intangible Cultural Property. However, he told us, “”I can’t do anything that great. I’m just proud to be able to continue the family business.”” Perhaps tradition is derived from this true dedication.


Gujo Honzome Watanabe Somemono Traditional indigo dye
737 Shimadani Hachimancho, Gujo, Gifu Prefecture