Wakan: The Colourful Life of Japanese Herbs From Organic Dyeing to Bath Salts

Japanese herbalism, or wakan, has an intricate origin and development story. Extracted from organic flora, the natural benefits of plants and roots native to Japan have long been applied to medicine, food as well as fragrance. More recently, as contemporary interest in harnessing the power of nature is on the up rise, herbs have also started to be utilised in spheres ranging from cosmetics and bath salts to fashion, revitalising people’s life in Japan. Another fact that is not as well-acknowledged, however, is that such contemporary applications share their indigenous herbal ingredients with the Japanese tradition of textile dyeing which had contributed to the aesthetic beauty of the country’s culture for many centuries.

Following the event focused on native colours of Japan on 8 April, in this special talk, Kakuro Sugimoto, a dyer as well as a third generation chemist of the Sugimoto wakan pharmacy, will delineate the development and philosophy of Japanese herbs, referring to some of the most representative plants – in particular those of which use is shared by the health and dyeing cultures. He will also illustrate the great versatility of Japanese herbs and their potential effect on our body and life.

This talk provides a rare opportunity to obtain a first-hand glimpse into the hidden world of Japan’s rich and colourful health culture from one of Japan’s most progressive herbalists. Together with Tetsuo Sugimoto, he will also hold a small demonstration to showcase the close relationship between dyeing and Japanese herbs.

Date: 10 April 2019 from 6.45pm
Venue: Royal Society of Arts (RSA) | Durham House Street – off The Strand | WC2N 6HG London

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