I discovered a fascinating tidbit of history regarding Japanese indigo in a recent conversation with Luis Pedroza, founder of Takumi Clothing. In Japan indigo dyeing is an art perfected and mastered through centuries of practice (though not always for denim). The circumstances that proliferated the use of this dye can be attributed to the Tokugawa Shogunate who restricted the clothing of certain Japanese classes to being made of indigo dyed cloth. Pedrosa directs me to Sadako Fukui’s book, "Japanese Indigo Design."
In 1628, the Tokugawa Shogunate regulated the costumes each class could wear and inhibited ordinary people from wearing anything except indigo cotton or hemp. Within this restriction a great variety of patterns was created.
I am sure a great variety of methods and rituals were created as well.
Thanks to Luis Pedroza, who has proven himself to be a great student of indigo and denim history and an artisan in his own way. Please visit his website for the goods.
Takumi Clothing Website
Amazon.com Page for "Japanese Indigo Designs"