How to Make Kakishibu (fermented Persimmon Tannin Dye)




Introduction: How to Make Kakishibu (fermented Persimmon Tannin Dye)

About: I am an artist, builder and teacher living in Japan.

Kakishibu is the juice you get from crushing, fermenting and pressing unripe astringent persimmons.

Astringent persimmons contain very high levels of soluble tannins and these add: antiseptic, insecticidal, water resistant, and antibacterial properties to the surface of any material and makes chemicals, such as formalin, harmless.

Non-astringent persimmons are not actually free of tannins, but rather are far less astringent before ripening and lose more of their tannic quality sooner. Don't use these to make kakishibu.

Making kakishibu is easy, but takes at least a year to age. The longer the better too.

We started the kakishibu in this Instructable on September 1, 2018.

There are a lot of different ways to make kakishibu and I will show you what I think is the easiest.

Kakishibu is a Japanese word meaning: Kaki (persimmon) shibu (astringent).

Before we start, do you like eating persimmons? I've read that more than 80% are thrown away in Japan every year! They literally grow everywhere, so maybe there's just too many to eat. I think that the non-astringent persimmons are easy to eat because they can be eaten fresh right from the tree. They have a really light honey-like taste and for me, biting into one feels like bitting into a hard apple with an apricot texture underneath. The astringent ones will burn your face off if you try to eat them green. You need to wait until they're almost too mushy too eat and then eat them. They are super sweet and rich with a heavy maple taste, but the texture feels like you're eating something that's gone bad. I love them dried, but not a fan of eating ripe astringent persimmons.

Step 1: The Astringent Persimmons

So, there are different ways to make kakishibu.

My method is simple:

1. Crush astringent persimmons

2. Ferment in ground water

3. Hand press

4. Age

The traditional method is:

1. Crush using a mortar and wooden hammer

2. Ferment in an open container with no liquid

3. Press with a kakishibu pressing machine

4. Age in an open container

The kakishibu sold in stores:

The persimmons are dropped in a huge machine where they are-

1. Cleaned

2. Crushed

3. Pressed

4. Filtered

5. Sterilized

6. Cooled

7. Fed persimmon yeast

8. Fermented

9. Aged

They are all about the same! We use water, because traditionally made kakishibu needs to be diluted when you paint with it. While kakishibu can be applied undiluted, it is better to dilute it with water since undiluted kakishibu tends to become uneven when applied. It also doesn't have a very long shelf life, because it turns to a gel soon after opening. You can turn it back into a liquid by adding water or heating it.

Step 2: Smashing the Persimmons

Here we go!

After collecting the unripe persimmons, you'll need to remove the leaves on top and smash them. We did this by filling an oversized heavy-duty plastic bag and smashing each persimmon with a wooden mallet.

*These aren't very juicy, so it's not that messy. Far less juice compared to smashing an apple.

The goal in this step isn't getting juice, it's just smashing.

**We like making a lighter kakishibu, because it darkens in the sun. The color of the finished kakishibu depends on how you press.

For a darker kakishibu, you can pulverize the persimmons or use a blender to break them all down and ferment them without the ground water.

*Once smashed-Avoid contact with iron metals. The contact area will react and turn black.

If fermenting in water, the amount of kakishibu you'll get is about half the amount of the container size. If you're not fermenting in water, it's about 25% of the container size.

Step 3: Fermenting

The best water to use for fermenting is groundwater.

*Do not use chlorinated water.

You can also use:

-Distilled water

-Rain water

The container needs to be in a dark place during fermentation.

To ferment in water, fill the bag of smashed persimmons to the top and loosely close the bag so air can escape. These will also ferment without the water.

Why the bag? Kakishibu stinks during this process! It's terrible!! Putting it in a bag like this keeps the stench level down. Again, you can also ferment in an open container, but be prepared for the smell!

*We put a piece of wood on top to keep the tanuki's out.

Step 4: Stirring

Ferment for 10 days, stirring each day after it starts bubbling.

The smell goes away after about 5 days.

Step 5: Pressing and Storing

When the persimmons are finished fermenting, it's time to press and transfer the liquid into bottles for aging.

First strain the persimmons in a net and then press them using a cotton bag.

*It's easy to press them in a cotton bag. Just fill the bag up half way and twist the liquid out.

The color depends on how you dilute the press.


-This is 100% juice. Just press the persimmons and bottle.

*After aging, this has a gel texture, so you'll probably need to dilute it, 1 to 2 parts water or whatever shade you like. It also turns to jelly once opened. Heating it up will bring it back to liquid. If it's cruddy, run it through a cheesecloth.


-This is 100% juice with a some fermenting water. The more water, the lighter the color.

Pressed and aged in water

-This is the persimmon juice added to all of the fermenting water.

After pressing the color of the liquid should be cloudy or creamy looking. Transfer it to plastic bottles and loosely screw on the lids. The liquid will produce gas as it ages, but stop after a while. Let the kakishibu age for at least a year, but longer is better.

*Diluting kakishibu doesn't make it lose any of it's properties.

Also, technically it's not a dye, but a coating. It does not chemically bond to what you put it on the way chemical and natural dyes do. The tannin molecules bind with each other, creating a colored coating around the fiber. Because of the high tannin content, the color matures over time, darkening and developing a depth and complexity not initially apparent. Exposure to sunlight and oxygen causes this change.

Step 6: Three Years

These bottles have been aging for three years.

*When staining with kakishibu, keep in mind that It reacts to sunlight. The color changes slowly with time and sun exposure. One coat of kakishibu will look orange and then a month in the sun will turn it darker.

*If white colored sediment settles at the bottom of the bottle, just leave until the end. Do not mix. It is impurities generated during aging which does not affect the dye. You can also just filter it out with a cheesecloth.

Step 7: After About Three Years of Aging

These are examples of Undiluted, diluted and aged in the water.

*The colors will get darker as they age.

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    2 months ago

    Wow, it reminded me of the way a true indigo dye is made.
    Learned something new, thank you for sharing.


    2 months ago

    Very interesting and informative.
    I would like to see more usage examples.

    bryans workshop
    bryans workshop

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you! I'll do some fabric and paper in the future.


    2 months ago on Step 7

    Wow Thank you for the information. I will have to try this out.


    2 months ago

    So cool! I had no idea about this. I love persimmons :D

    bryans workshop
    bryans workshop

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you very much!