This is a 7 day Ace Camp where you will be introduced to Japanese textiles focused on indigo dyeing and shibori techniques in the beautiful mountain village of Fujino, just outside of TokyoFor those individuals considering setting up an indigo vat at home, this is an excellent opportunity to learn to make and maintain a non-fermented indigo vat. The material covered in the workshop is also a hands-on introduction into Japanese culture in general. The ideas and technical approaches to textile work share the same ethics and standards as Japanese artistic disciplines. 

For inspiration we'll head to Folkcraft Museum in Tokyo, this is the place to get back to the source of where everything Japanese derives. Understanding the origins of Japanese crafts, feeling and absorbing the subtle seasonal nuances will give you further insight into all things Japanese.

Japanese Textiles are fascinating in their precise structures, complex techniques and aesthetic sophistication. At the farmhouse you will have access to hundreds of textile-related books and examples of traditional Japanese textiles. In addition, we will explore the art of textile recycling techniques in old rural Japan, ashiko and akiori, (‘reinforced stitches’ and ‘rag weave,’ respectively). Of particular interest is the Zen Japanese aesthetic of refined poverty (wabi sabi) apparent in every stitch and shuttle pass of these textiles.

photo: textile arts center

photo: textile arts center

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This Ace Camp includes:

  • 7 nights*  (based on shared occupancy)
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 6 lunches
  • 6 dinners
  • 5 days of workshops, lectures and discussions with Bryan Whitehead, Indigo Expert
  • A guided tour of the Tokyo Folk Craft Museum
  • Ikebana flower arranging workshop
  • Shibori Stencil workshop with Stencil Master
  • Admission and tour fees - local museums

*Rooms are shared with one other person.  Unfortunately, there is no opportunity for single rooms. The first 2 nights are hotel accommodation in Tokyo and the remaining 5 nights are farmhouse accommodation in Fujino.

This Ace Camp is limited to 8 people.

You will be sent a list of supplies to bring after registration.

There will be no refunds for this Ace Camp due to the planning and logistics involved. 

Fee:  $2879.00 USD - airfare is not included

Deposit:  $1879.00 - due when place in workshop is confirmed 

Final Payment of $1000.00 due May 7, 2017

Indigo color testing

Indigo color testing

BRYAN WHITEHEAD, indigo expert

Originally from the West Coast of Canada, Bryan has been living in Japan for 27 years, farming and processing indigo for over 20 years, and rearing silkworms for 18 years. 

He runs a small textile school at his 150-year-old farmhouse that focuses on indigo dyeing, natural dyes, shibori, stencil dyeing ( katazome), thread making from silk cocoons, and weaving on traditional Japanese looms. The farmhouse is situated in a serene tea-growing mountain village just outside of Tokyo.

*Please note you will be sent a small package of fun 'homework' to complete before arrival in Japan. This will allow for more experimentation to take place during our time in Fujino. More information will be provided after registration. 

Bryan Whitehead, indigo expert

Bryan Whitehead, indigo expert



Fujino in Japan’s northwestern Kanagawa Prefecture is a peaceful place with a population of about 10,000 people. The village was designated as one of ‘ The Most Scenic One Hundred Mountain Villages in Japan’. Spring and autumn are beautiful times of the year here. Located in a valley and surrounded by abundant nature with mountains and lakes, it is only one hour away from central Tokyo. Fujino is an incubator for sustainable living, and artistic creativity known as an artists’ haven, promoting and displaying art works around town.

From the front of the Farmhouse you can see well-tended tea terraces ascending impossibly upward. The guest rooms on the third floor were completed four years ago. The rooms are comfortable and cozy. There are two bathrooms on the first floor and a two showers/bath on the first floor as well. There is WiFi at the farmhouse. The staircases are not long but relatively steep. There are healthy snacks, drinks and fruit in the kitchen at all times. 

Fujino hillside  (left), Farmhouse (right)

Fujino hillside  (left), Farmhouse (right)

Shibori Techniques – There are an infinite number of ways one can bind, stitch, fold, twist, or compress cloth for shibori, and each way results in very different patterns. Each method is used to achieve a certain result, but each method is also used to work in harmony with the type of cloth used. Therefore, the technique used in shibori depends not only on the desired pattern, but the characteristics of the cloth being dyed. Also, different techniques can be used in conjunction with one another to achieve even more elaborate results.


Foreign visitors wishing to travel to Japan should be in possession of valid national passports valid for at least 190 days. 

Do I Need a Visa to Visit Japan?

Nationals of some countries require a visa to enter Japan. 

Contact your government office to find out particulars. It is best to visit the foreign government office in your area and present your passport.

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ACE CAMPS  will email you when it is time to make your travel arrangements. This email will always be sent 60 days or more before your trip departs unless you book within 60 prior to the camp. If this Ace Camp fills prior to 60 days we will let you know right away so you can plan. 

Transportation to central Tokyo can be made from either Haneda Airport or Narita Airport via airport bus, train and private shuttle. More detailed travel arrival information will be sent after your registration.


Autumn is from September to November, and is generally cooler with less humidity. Fall is always a welcome relief with clear blue skies and beautiful flowers. Average temperatures range from 13°C to 26°C (56°F to 78°F). Daytime temperatures are almost always moderate, but the evenings are often cooler in the hillside towns.


The ACE CAMP TOUR LEADER is a part of your group and are there to look out for your safety, to help resolve issues, and to make sure you get what you want from your vacation. The Tour Leader will make sure that everyone who wants company has it, including dinners when no group meal is scheduled.




Travel Day - Arrival in Tokyo

Check-in at 3 pm.
7:00  Welcome dinner, meet + greet


Breakfast at the hotel

This morning we meet with our host Bryan, in Tokyo, he will lead us on a guided tour of the Japanese Folkcraft Museum. The collection of the museum consists of approximately 17,000 craft works. Among them, ceramics of Joseon Dynasty, wood works, paintings, Japanese old ceramics of Tamba, Karatsu, Imari and Seto, katsugi and sashiko kimonos of the Tohoku region, costumes and glass beads of the Ainu, Otsu-e, Mokujiki sculptures, ceramics and woven/dyed textiles of Okinawa.

Lunch - Noodle Shop

This afternoon is free for you to explore Tokyo. We can help assist you with directions for specifics places, or suggest a list of shops + neighbourhoods you might be interested in. Wander and explore this amazing city!

Dinner - On your own


Breakfast at the hotel

Today we are picked up in a private bus and and from there we will drive to the quietness of the mountain village only an hour and a half away. After unpacking you will be welcomed by a typical Japanese lunch.

This afternoon we will have a special Japanese flower arrangement lesson. First we will go for a walk around the village and collect branches and mossy rocks. Then Hiro sensei will guide you through the elementary principles of design. Bryan will also give a small lecture on the history of Ikebana. 

Dinner - local grilled-chicken restaurant

If the weather is good, a campfire and beer and wine etc are waiting for us back at the farmhouse. There is also a traditional wood bath next to a small stream in the garden, if anyone would like a proper Japanese bath before bed.


Breakfast is simply served on the kitchen island. Lots of fruit and yoghurt and cereals, bread and pancakes, bacon and eggs.

After breakfast Bryan will give a one hour talk on Shibori and indigo this morning. It is a round the table talk and questions and comments are encouraged. We will check the homework and start pulling the stitches to prepare for indigo dyeing.

Lunch will be local Japanese food.

After lunch we head straight for the indigo. The first step will be to set up an indigo vat and get a clear idea of the variety of processes involved. We might try our hand at dyeing Japanese tenugui towels and cotton thread to familiarize you with the dyeing properties of indigo. We will try to make small indigo bucket vats everyday to understand the process and give you confidence to try it on your own when you are back in your home countries. The small bucket vats are then added to the large ceramic vats.

Later in the afternoon, Bryan will take those in the group interested to the local Onsen - a Japanese hot spring. 

Dinner - TBD 

If the weather is good, a campfire and traditional wood bath will be set up and available in the garden of the farmhouse. 


Breakfast at farmhouse

The morning talk will be on stencil dyeing and a short talk on local history and local food customs. We will spend the day working on indigo projects. If the weather is clear, we will experiment with leaf stencilling to get a better feel for it.

Later in the afternoon we will visit a local potter who makes beautiful pieces and is generally inexpensive. The pottery can be boxed and shipped from the local post office if necessary.

Lunch will be hand made udon noodles. Bryan's 98 year old textile student comes and makes them for us. 

Dinner - at the farmhouse

If the weather is good, a campfire and traditional wood bath will be set up and available in the garden of the farmhouse. 


Breakfast at farmhouse

Today we have a special outing planned to the stencil master who lives a short train trip away. We will spend the day at the doyen master's house. We will use the stencils we cut for the homework to make some simple table runners and tenugui scarves. It is a very interesting and fun day.

Lunch - Bento Box

Dinner - at the farmhouse

If the weather is good, a campfire and traditional wood bath will be set up and available in the garden of the farmhouse. 


Breakfast at farmhouse

We will spend the majority of the day dyeing our final pieces with indigo, later on we have the opportunity to visit with other local artisan; potters, glass blowers, basket makers etc. all located close by in Fujino. We can make decisions about where to visit together.

Dinner - Final group dinner at the farmhouse


Breakfast at farmhouse

This morning we take the train back to Tokyo and say Sayōnara! さようなら


Nota Bene: this is a prospective itinerary. It is subject to modest modifications, dependent on local weather, new opportunities and the desires of the group.