I will voice my wish.

I visited Los Angels last week. During my stay in Los Angels, I met wonderful people of LA kimono club, the former chairman, Mr. Takase, the present chairman, Mr. Tsurukame, and the treasurer, Ms. Kobayashi. LA kimono club started 10 years ago. In 1999, Mr. Takase, Mr. Tsurukame, and some friends decided to form a club "KIMONO O KIYOU KAI ("Club to Encourage the Wearing of Kimono"). On New Year's Day at 1PM (1-1-1), 2000, seven gentlemen and twelve ladies wearing Kimono gathered and took photos in front of the sculpture by the famous artist , Isamu Noguchi, in JACCC Plaza in Little Tokyo, Los Angels. Gradually club members increased including non-Japanese people and on March 15, 2003, many kimono lovers met to form LA kimono club with the agreed objective of promoting mutual understanding and cultural exchanges between the US and Japan through kimonos.

I contacted people of LA kimono club to ask to meet them in Los Angels. Although I suddenly contacted them at the last minute to go, they kindly arranged an opportunity to meet with me. Furthermore, they generously invited me to attend the annual meeting on February 15, if I could prolong my stay in Los Angels. But I had to leave Los Angels early in the morning on February 15; I should regrettably decline their kind invitation this time.

I met them at Kyoto Grand Hotel in Little Tokyo, where Mr. Takase designed. When I arrived, Mr. Takase and Ms. Kobayashi sat on the lobby. Ms. Kobayashi wore a wonderful kimono and obi with beautiful white and green color. Her beauty reminded me the budding season, when setting-in of spring passed and Japanese bush warblers began to sing. I took her picture forthwith.

I enjoyed speaking with them very much. I was ashamed to talk about my dream on kimono. They listened intently to me.

I said, “My dream is to make a network of kimono in America, but I could not make my come true, if only I desire it in the corner of New York. Mr. Tsurukame said, “At first, one person raises an issue. Just around the same time, many people notice the same issue. Once one person stands up for the issue, other people can stand up and gather for resolving the issue.” He told me that one action of one African American women, Rosa Parks, who refused to obey bus driver’s order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger in 1955, led to change of the American society. Indeed, anybody could propose the issue and start to act at first; but somebody should raise the issue. So, I decide to act for my dream.

Mr. Takase said with smile, “The network would spread, the general meeting in USA would be held, and more than one thousands of kimono-wearing people would gather.”
I will voice my wish!
That would be the first step to make my dream come true.
I am deeply touched with connections through kimonos. I appreciate the member of LA kimono club for their kindness and cordial advises.

* This photo shows the members of LA kimono club and me in Kyoto Grand Hotel, Los Angels.

LA kimono club http://www.lakimonoclub.com/eMain.htm


Anonymous claw789 said...

What a lovely dream! I admire your sentiment and all your efforts. Thank you for having such an informative blog and sharing so much of your hard-earned knowledge. If you ever return to LA, I hope you get to see more people wearing kimono.

September 5, 2009 at 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Gion Shoja said...

To be honest, I think this is fetishistic and orientalist. I've lived and studied in Japan and so I know that wearing a kimono is not a big deal. A prime example is when I was on a train heading for the National Archives of Japanese Literature a gentleman wearing kimono was on the train reading his horse racing papers preparing to go to the track. To him, wearing a kimono was just like going to the track to play the ponies: an everyday thing.

It's only outside of Japan that Japanese seem to make kimono out to be something it is not. Japanese will often say that kimono are an representation of traditional Japanese culture; I say that is an exaggeration (and a major one IMO). I think Japanese place too much emphasis on traditional Japanese culture (a term I don't think even most Japanese really understand what it means) and have forgotten the ordinary nature of kimono as clothing.

Furthermore Japanese people (women in particular) do not see the gender imbalance when it comes to their current presentation of kimono. Women have a number of different kinds of kimono while men only have montsuki. So why should men get dressed up in kimono if they only have one choice while women have a variety? This is something that Japanese never consider in their displays of kimono as "tradition Japanese culture."

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkenheimer said that "all reification is a forgetting"; I think that is true of the displays of kimono outside of Japan. And as such I think Japanese poeple need to take a good hard look at their displays of kimono and what's really involved in them.

February 20, 2010 at 6:35 PM  

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