One day Oyasama instructed:
“Do the dyeing tomorrow morning.”
Kokan immediately began to make preparations. Just that evening, Chushichi Yamanaka in Mamekoshi learned of it through the Invocation of the Fan. His wife, Sono, immediately made preparations, woke up early the next morning before daybreak, and returned to the Residence with some earth* and pieces of cloth in a bundle over her back. She greeted Oyasama and told Her the reason for returning.
“Ah! That’s marvelous! Just last night my daughter, Kokan, and I were talking about the same thing,”
Oyasama said, and was delighted. Similar incidents occurred several times.
“Draw water from the well,”
Oyasama said. So water was drawn from the well. The earth was rubbed on the cloth and the cloth was soaked in water. It was soaked and dried, and dried and soaked two or three times until the dyed material became a beautiful binroji** color. The water from the well had a metallic taste.***
* When Oyasama visited the home of Chushichi Yamanaka in August 1865, She noticed that the earth from the bank of the stream which ran along the east side of the house would be suitable for dyeing. She therefore expressed a desire to have some of it. Thereafter, that earth was brought to the Residence many times. It is said that the earth was from a compost of bamboo leaves in the bamboo forest.
** Binroji refers to the nut of the betel palm tree which grows in India and Malaysia. In Japan, the meat of the nut was dried and used for dyeing, and produced a dark black color which was called ‘the binroji color.’
*** In Yamato Province there were many wells with water that had a metallic taste. However, water from other wells did not produce as beautiful a dye as that from the Residence.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 9–10