Some of you probably seen tons of persimmons in your local farmer’s market this couple of months. Persimmon is an edible fruit that is generally harvested around late summer through October. It’s light yellow-orange to dark red-orange in color depending on the species. The Japanese Persimmon or kaki is the most widely cultivated species. The bright orange persimmons dangling from the branches of a persimmon tree are a familiar fall and winter sight in many parts of Japan. There are about one thousands kinds of persimmon grown in Japan. Their varieties are roughly divided into sweet persimmons and astringent persimmons. Sweet persimmons are consumed as edible fruits, and astringent persimmons are used to make persimmon tannin juice, or kaki-shibu. It is not easy to distinguish whether a fruit of persimmon is sweet or astringent from its appearance. The reason persimmons can be astringent is because of soluble tannin contained in fruits. As the tannin coagulates the viscous protein on the surface of our tongues, we feel its astringency.
Kakishbu dyed fabric. Image via kuonca.net
Kakishibu is a dye produced from fermented persimmon juice. Persimmon juice-dyed was used on a daily basis in the life of ancient people. Back then, it was highly used as a repellent preservatives for fishing nets, staining pattern, furniture, cloth and paper goods. The basic kakishibu color is a brownish burnt pumpkin, and this color may be altered with the addition of modifiers. Colors dyed with persimmon juice and tannin is oxidized by oxygen in the air. A darker tone changes along with the progress of oxidation. Kakishibu was mainly traditional hand-dyed by hand, and now it is beginning to be stained in the manner of industrial production. Persimmon tannin is usually liquid. Since it is a fermented product, special care must be taken to keep it at an appropriate temperature.
The persimmon juice is also known as herbal medicine, blood pressure tannins, burns, and is said to relieve a hangover. Tannin from unripe Japanese persimmons has been employed also in brewing sake and as a wood preservative.
Kakishibu dyed yarn carried by Habu Textiles
AOS-34 fishnet yarn
A-13 402 kakishibu ramie
A-1B 2/17 kusakizome tsumugi silk
A-11 1/8.5 kakishibu cotton viscose
A-15 1/10 kakishibu tokkenshi
A-9 1/2.8 kakishibu cotton cord
Kakishibu waxed cotton and linen, persimmon tannin, gessoed foam and cane by Nancy Moore Bess. Image via Browngrotta.
More reading resources:
Kakishibu dyed textiles from Sri Threads
Kakishibu: Traditional Persimmon Dye of Japan by Chris Conrad
All you want to know about Japanese persimmons