“The Emperor’s Dye”

Japan’s world-class, unique dye dating from 1,200 years ago

“Kôrozen” is the world’s noblest dye along with “Kai-murasaki” (Tyrian purple).  It is characterized by the various changes in color, as are seen in an opal.  It is also called the “dye of the sun” because of its madder red color that appears the moment the light passes through, just like an alexandrite.

It was the Saga Emperor in the Heian period (1,200 years ago) that decided to replace purple with “Kôrozen” as the dye for the primary formal dress for a royal ceremony.  Ever since, “Kôrozen” was passed down from age to age as the color for the emperors to wear on solemn occasions. However, these characteristics remained scarcely known because the knowledge was passed on only to very few people.

Korozen : Color variation

Fluorescent light
Transmitted light

Twenty years ago, Yusai, as a researcher on dye techniques, looked into the Kôryûji temple in Kyoto where generations of “Kôrozen” are conserved, unraveled its features, and finally succeeded in reproducing it. “Yume-kôrozome” or “Dream Kôrozome”, thus created, features a new color which is more appealing to the modern age, while maintaining the dignity of “Kôrozen”.  It changes its color from black to deep red, from dark blue to burgundy, from green to brown, or from brown to reddish brown, each concealing/revealing the dye of the sun.  It is such a unique, exquisite dye that Japan can boast it to the world.

Yusai investigation in Koryu-ji temple

Yume-korozome : color change (fluorescent light >> sunlight)

Dye of the sun: The flaming-red sun appears when penetrated by the light from the backside of the fabric, changing its color from black to madder red.

Color variation:
The color changes from dark blue to burgundy when the light shines on the upper side of the fabric.