Stunning and bold, this exhibition is a rare treat for kimono lovers.

The history of traditional Japanese women’s clothing has one culturally important piece at its core: kimono. A robe-like garment in an elegant shape, the kimono has dazzled many with its intricate patterns as well as the delicate sewing skills required to create such gorgeous pieces. Now in Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood, a rare exhibition will unfold, featuring the 1,500 year history of traditional Japanese women’s clothing with a focus on kimono dyeing techniques.

To celebrate the advent of its 80th anniversary since its establishment, the Kyoto Dyeing and Weaving Cultural Association will be collaborating with the Shibuya-based Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, which has a long-running history of displaying garments of traditional import from a multitude of diverse cultures, to hold this exhibition. The exhibition will highlight women’s clothing and cloth dyeing techniques from the Kofun period, around 300 to 538 AD, to the contemporary era, and we are sure those who love the historical as well as fans of kimono will have much to glean from this installation.

Nara Period (710 to 794 AD)

Muromachi Period (1336 to 1573)

Edo Period (1603 to 1867)

In terms of how the exhibition is laid out, it’ll be spread through two floors of the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum. The second floor will host recreated clothing from the Kofun period up until the Meiji period (1868 to 1912). Placed on mannequins, patrons can observe the change in women’s clothing over the eras while leisurely walking through the exhibit.

For the first floor, however, museum goers will be able to observe kimono from the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum’s own collection with authentic pieces from the Meiji period to kimono made in more recent years. While we can’t say necessarily say this exhibition will be entirely nostalgic, given the centuries of clothing trends contained, we know for sure folks will definitely appreciate seeing the history of traditional Japanese garments for women unfold before them.

▼ Kimono on the first floor will be displayed on racks similar to these gorgeous pieces shown below.

Last but not least, this exhibition has a special meaning for the Kyoto Dyeing and Weaving Cultural Association. From the 1930s to the 1950s the same association held parades displaying traditional women clothing made with various kimono dyeing techniques, and this culturally significant event was titled Senshoku Matsuri, or literally “Dyeing and Weaving Festival.” Though this festival is no longer held today, the Shibuya exhibit, in a way, is temporarily reviving what was once a yearly celebration in Japan’s former capital.

▼ Preserved photos of the now discontinued Senshoku Matsuri. The second photo specifically displays regalia from the Nara period.

The exhibit will open its doors from July 15 until September 28. Tickets are 500 yen (US$4.50) for regular admission, 300 yen for university and high school students, and 200 yen for middle and elementary school students. Folks with a physical disability and an accompanying individual have free admission. As a COVID-19 preventative measure, visitors may be staggered upon entry depending on foot traffic. Furthermore, the exhibit will also be offering a lecture and workshop series in Japanese on kimono sewing and dyeing techniques, which can be signed up for here.

Museum information
Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum / 文化学園服飾博物館
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi 3-22-7 Shinjuku Bunka Quint Building 1st floor
東京都渋谷区代々木3-22-7 新宿文化クイントビル 1階
Open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Closed Sundays, holidays, and from August 7 to August 17

Source: Japaaan, @Press
Images: @Press
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