Monday, 24 May 2010


My Visit to Japan - 4

I was delighted to find that a lot of ladies in Tokyo wear kimono, maybe not every day but certainly not only on high days and holidays.  I tried to take some photographs without being intrusive, sometimes with less success than at other times.  This photo above was my first attempt.  I was delighted to see the two young ladies but not very quick with my camera and only just caught them as they went off down the road.

At the Nezu Shrine there were ladies dressed in kimono for part of the festivities but I caught them "backstage"
and near the shrine there was a shop selling new and used kimono which these ladies were considering to add to their collections:

I love this photograph and the way it shows the traditional and the modern sides of Japan.  The lady in her beautiful kimono is using her mobile phone while she waits for the metro train.  I hope she wouldn't mind that I took her photo but after that I decided to stop sneaking around behind my camera.

I attended a shamisen (three-stringed instrument) concert where lots of the performers and the audience were in kimono
and there were two beautiful ladies in full geisha kimono dancing and singing
and so I approached one lady and asked if she minded if I took her photograph.  Not only did she not mind but she explained that her kimono was decorated with Japanese theatrical masks. 
Doesn't she look elegant?  She then suggested that we have our photo taken together - hmm, I don't look quite as elegant!
My first post on this blog was about a Quilters' Guild Area Day that I attended in Fleggburgh, Norfolk when Jenni Dobson was the guest speaker.  At that meeting Jenni gave a "live insight" into the kimono which was spellbinding and incredibly instructive.

Kimono literally translates as garment and is worn as a series of layers and ties, all with particular significance.  Now that Japan has become more westernised kimono are more often worn for festive occasions, to visit shrines and for weddings.  I suppose that's in a similar way to the Scots wearing their traditional kilts.

Kimono are made of fabric 13-14" wide and approximately 15 yards long.  Kimono are unstitched to be cleaned and to be stored and the Japanese show "respect for the selvedges" - no material is actually cut away during the making and as they are often passed on they can be made larger for the next wearer if necessary.  The Japanese also believe that any element used to make the kimono becomes part of the garment and should not be taken away - so any tacking will be found remaining in the finished garment.
I recently found a poignant post about the discoveries made when taking a kimono apart, you can read it on  Heather's blog.

It was wonderful on that occasion in Norfolk to have the opportunity to examine some kimono at close quarters and see how they had been stitched.  It was even more wonderful to be in Japan and see kimono being worn.

Jenni Dobson recommended "The Story of the Kimono" by Jill Liddell for anyone wishing to learn even more and I have finally tracked down a copy (it's out of print and ridiculous prices are asked for it on the various book seller sites I've tried previously) which is on the way from America at this very moment.  I look forward to sharing it with you when it arrives.  In the meantime there's a great website with loads of information about kimono that you might like to look at, it's


  1. Lovely post - and I learned a few things I didn't know! Kimono have such a rich and amazing history.
    (And thanks for the link!.)

  2. Great post Lis, I did the same thing when taking photograph of the ladies in kimonos. I had to either taking them from faraway or from behind. Thanks for Heather's link too.
    Hugs Nat

  3. ooh, really interesting. thank you!

  4. I bought a used kimono at that very kimono shop near nezu shrine, see it here:

  5. I love the kimono on your blog and absolutely adore the obi. The ladies in that kimono shop near the Nezu Shrine were so friendly to me. I tried to leave a comment on your blog but it didn't accept it.

  6. Comments aren't published until moderated. It should be up now.



I really appreciate your lovely comments, ideas and opinions, they make my day. Thank you for visiting Piece'n'Peace,
hugs, Lis x