The color red has deep cultural significance for the Japanese. Even today, children wear red at shrine rituals to ward off evil spirits, and brides paint their lips crimson to protect against misfortune. Of all red dyes beni, made from safflower, is considered the most precious. The Mogami River area in Yamagata has grown safflowers since the 16th century and is now Japan’s largest producer. Petals are dried and pressed by hand into flat ovals called benimochi for dyeing high-quality kimonos.There’s also a traditional beni lipstick that instead of red, produces a shimmering green effect loved for centuries by fashionable Japanese ladies.
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