Kyo Yuzen kosode kimono designated as the Japanese important cultural property

Previously I wrote the blog entry about the article of Kyo-Yuzen dyeing published in the New York Times. 

Let me introduce Yuzen dyeing a little more. I show you the wonderful Yuzen kimono this time. 
The exhibition “Kyoto Kimono: Inspired Grace and Elegance from Momoyama to Edo” was held in the Museum of Kyoto from October 29 to December 11, 2011. One hundred eighty kosode (literally, small sleeve), the prototype of the kimono, were displayed. Those kosode were mainly produced in the Edo period(1603–1868).

A friend of mine living in Kyoto sent me a colorful catalogue of the exhibition. This catalogue demonstrates all the kimono photos along with the precise comments. The photo shows the cover of this catalogue.
This catalogue gave me goose bumps. All the kosode kimonos look brilliant and marvelous. I think it would be impossible to see all these wonderful kosode kimonos at the same time in the future. I regret that I was not able to visit this exhibition.

This is the furisode (long-sleeved kimono) with auspicious noshi bundles designated as the Japanese important cultural property. It was made in the Edo period (18th century), owned by Yuzen Shikai.

Because kimono fabrics become severely deteriorated, not many kimonos are designated as the Japanese important cultural properties. 

I am interested in the episode how this kosode kimono was owned by Yuzen Shikai. 
Originally, this kosode was owned by Shojiro Nomura, an antique dealer and researcher based in Kyoto before WWII. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. visited Japan in 1921 and mediated the donation of this kosode from Shojiro Nomura to Yuzen Shikai.
He actually provided Shojiro proportionate amount of money and asked him to donate it to Yuzen Shikai. When he mediated this donation, he said “I donate this kosode to beloved Kyoto.” I am very impressed by his kindness to leave this kosode in Kyoto. I think this kosode should be too brilliant to move from Japan.

This episode could imply that kimono is located best in Japan, which seems contradictory to my activity, but I always think that kimono will spread to all over the world when kimono is recognized as “art” or “fashion”. Actually, many fashion designers in the world have gotten inspired by kimono and applied kimono fabrics and/or forms to their dresses.

Ken Kirihata wrote a note for viewers of this exhibition in this catalogue as follows: 
“National costumes in the world, intimately connected to the local area, touch our hearts by their designs and techniques, but I thought that Japanese kimonos, especially ones which we can see in this exhibition, would be something different. I was not able to recognize kimono as other than the Japanese natural costume. In 1993, when I visited the exhibition of kosode in the Edo period held at the State Museum in Los Angeles, I was impressed by the title of that exhibition: When Art Became Fashion. I finally recognized that the essence of kosode beauty is Art.”

Reading Kirihata’s words, I go back to my first objective that I would like to introduce kimono fashion to the world.


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