Liberate the kimono (Published: March 11, 2011)
Kumiko Makihara (“Kimono Lessons,” Meanwhile, March 4) described the typical point of view regarding kimonos in Japan: Most Japanese people believe that the kimono is only a ceremonial dress and that there are strict rules on how and when to wear it.
And as Ms. Makihara writes, many Japanese people don’t know how to properly put on a kimono because they lack basic knowledge of the traditional culture.
Indeed, the kimono has a long history — more than 1,000 years — but most of the rules that the Japanese rely on today were established just 150 years ago, or less. The kimono has been worn much more freely for most of its history.
Unfortunately, the kimono market has been dramatically shrinking, in part because the Japanese seem attached to the rules that prevent wider use of the dress.
As a kimono fashion stylist, I would like the kimono to be recognized as a fashionable garment, not just a traditional or ceremonial dress. Today’s rules for kimono wearing certainly should be taught, and I teach them to my students, but the kimono should be worn without any inhibition.
The kimono should be recognized as a garment that is beyond cultural and ethnic boundaries. It is my hope that people will learn to enjoy wearing the kimono in a more relaxed manner.
Hiromi Asai, New York