One popular attraction in Yamagata are the Safflower (jp.: Benibana) fields. From these bright orange flowers, you can extract the red coloring pigment carthamin, as well as the yellow pigment called carthamidin. In fact, you can create colors like light pink, cherry red, brown red and brown yellow with these pigments. In the past, Benibana used to be valued only for its colorful dyes. However, since the world learned of the petals’ numerous health benefits, people started adding the flowers to several dishes. Luckily, we had the chance to try safflower dyeing in Yamagata.
Our first coloring experiment was to dye a scarf in ikat style. With a white scarf and created a pattern using rubber bands and wooden sticks. Areas with tight knots and folds remain white after putting the scarf into the dye.
The result of our safflower dyeing turned out very well.
Second we created a safflower picture while rubbing the petals over a vignette which was laid on a piece of silk.
You need quite a lot of force to create the deep yellow-orange color. After doing the same procedure for about 20min we separated the vignette from the piece of silk and put the silk into an alkaline solution to separate the yellow color from the red color.
The yellow color fades away and the red color remains. The end product was put into a picture frame and is now a nice decoration. However, the petals don’t just brighten up the house. In fact, they appear in many healthy dishes like pickled radish or sweet desserts.
Shinrin Joho-kan “Morina Tendo”
Hours: 9am – 6pm (Closed on January first)
Access: A 35-min walk or 10-min car ride from Tendo Station (JR Yamagata Shinkansen)
Address: 2-3-41 Kuwanomachi, Tendo-shi, 994-0022 Yamagata-ken