kimono
terry
satsuki
milhaupt
Kimono
kimono
terry
satsuki
milhaupt
REAKTION BOOKS
To Chie, Tsuru, Grace, Joyce and Karen
Published by Reaktion Books Ltd
33 Great Sutton Street
London ec1v 0dx, uk
www.reak...
iNTRoduCTioN 7
The FouNdATioNS oF A KiMoNo FAShioN iNduSTRy 31
ModeRNiziNG The KiMoNo 56
ShoPPiNG FoR KiMoNoS, ShAPiNG ide...
7
iN T Ro d u C T i o N
R
ecognizable by its T-shaped outline, fluttering sleeves and flowing
vertical panels draped from ...
1 Cover of Utsukushii
Kimono (Spring 2003),
published by hachette
Fujin Gahō.
2 Cover of Kimono Hime
(April 2003), publish...
9
showcased as a variant form of the subculture phenomenon generally referred
to as kawaii or ‘cute’. e kawaii style orig...
3 Cover of An An (May
2009).
10
For example, in 2006, Fujin Gahō, the publisher
of ‘Beautiful Kimono’, released a special ...
11
on the iconic figure of uno Chiyo who, as described in chapter Five, designed
kimonos suited for the streets of Paris. ...
13
with gold and silver paint, provide datable benchmarks for identifiable
kimono design trends. e composition, motif and...
6 Page from ‘Collection of
Shōun’s Patterns’ (Shōun
moyō shū), a book of mod-
ern kimono designs (1901),
polychrome woodbl...
16
When subjected to an individual viewer’s gaze, the interpretation of a
kimono’s values – historical, aesthetic, economi...
17
and named for the Kanbun era (1661–73) during which it flourished, designs
of this time boldly sweep across the upper b...
19
the visual emphasis on the obi with designs concentrated around the lower
half of the kimono, with most pattern element...
20
contemporary – this book examines the kimono in both microscopic
and macroscopic perspectives, revealing patterns in th...
21
Western nations, officials began to appear in what was then termed ‘Western-
style clothing’ or yōfuku, as distinguished ...
23
and their straight edges were sewn together by hand to form the garment.
variations in the construction of the garment’...
24
Recent scholarship on fashion, however, questions the exclusivity of this
mode of thinking and calls for an expanded de...
25
unusual composition that breaks the design space into a broad upper band of
deep purple and a narrower band of lavender...
28
imported tools and concepts whole cloth, as is commonly assumed, Japan’s
approach to modernizing the kimono industry wa...
29
sale globally through the internet. Whether incorporating old kimonos into
new looks or simply collecting them as objec...
31
15 Woman’s garment with
small-sleeve openings
(kosode) with design of
fishing net and characters
(‘uguisu’, warbler), p...
32
who ranked second in the social hierarchy, wore clothing made of durable,
inexpensive materials with sleeves that afford...
34
continues to elude scholars, many
agree that publishers selected the
print designers and featured subject-
matter based...
35
was a collaborative effort requiring input from several participants: publisher,
designer, carver and printer.10 e publ...
20, 21 Woman’s garment
with small-sleeve openings
(kosode) with design of
willow tree and Chinese
characters (and detail:
...
38
It was not enough that actors and courtesans, in their important function
as human billboards, should be seen wearing t...
23, 24 Woman’s summer
garment (hitoe) with design of
cormorant fishing and Tokugawa
crest (detail), early 19th century,
pa...
43
family treasure for which no expense was spared (illus. 23, 24). During the
Edo era, some women of the military class f...
44
legitimized the ordering of society and the preservation of the status quo, it
also emphasized the importance of frugal...
45
and style of decoration that merchants were allowed to wear. one of the
amusements of the merchant class was finding wa...
46
Pattern Books
e first kimono pattern books were published in 1666 (illus. 27).25
Approximately 170 to 180 were publish...
47
the function and production of pattern books. e establishment of the
Tokugawa shogunate in the city of Edo in the earl...
48
the designer’s work is identified as ‘picture by the
Kyoto dyer–painter Imura Katsukichi’, implying that
he was engaged...
49
book’s illustrations may have been provided to the customer, together with
the bolts of silk, in order to help the cust...
50
(chirimen), and has already spread a
single-sheet illustration or drawing
of a kosode design on the floor in
front of t...
51
A detailed illustration revealing the multiple functions of kimono pattern
books appears in the frontispiece of the boo...
52
or by established painters such as hishikawa Moronobu or nishikawa
Sukenobu enhanced the cultural and social value of t...
53
At least one pattern book appears to have served
the dual function of promoting the various actors
themselves and adver...
36 nishikawa Sukenobu,
‘courtesan style’ (keisei-fū)
kosode, page from ‘Patterns
of the Shōtoku Era’ pattern
book (Shōtoku...
55
could tell which was which. But today women of the world imitate
prostitutes and put on plain or striped kosode with wi...
56
two
Mo d E r n I z I n g t h E KI M o n o
If we look at contemporary Western women’s wear, we find that it combines a
t...
57
even after the Emperor Meiji appeared in Western-style uniforms in 1872.4
From about 1887, however, the empress favoure...
38, 39 Empress Shōken’s
ceremonial dress, and
detail, late 19th–early 20th
century, roses woven and
embroidered with vario...
59
to American Victorian – was the site of gala celebrations.7 Japanese men
appeared in Western-style regalia and Japanese...
61
of the previous Edo era gave way to a comparatively more egalitarian social
system. e new government aimed to abolish ...
43 Yōshū Chikanobu,
‘Ceremony of the Issuance
of the Constitution’, 1889,
triptych of polychrome
woodblock prints, ink and...
63
In 1872, the Japanese nation itself received new garb for its growing
national psyche in the form of a national flag be...
44, 45 Man’s informal
garment or under-kimono
(nagajuban) with design
of the irty-six Immortal
Poets, and detail, early
2...
66
While woollen materials and velvets were prized in Japan for their nov-
elty at this early stage of Japan’s exposure to...
67
International demand for healthy silkworm eggs and reeled silk caused
some regions, such as the lower Ina valley (Shimo...
47 Pouch with design
of birds and flowers,
18th century, printed
colours and gold
on cotton.
68
cocoons at a lower cost th...
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of 314

Kimono

A modern history
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Design      
Source: www.slideshare.net


Transcripts - Kimono

  • 1. kimono terry satsuki milhaupt
  • 2. Kimono
  • 3. kimono terry satsuki milhaupt REAKTION BOOKS
  • 4. To Chie, Tsuru, Grace, Joyce and Karen Published by Reaktion Books Ltd 33 Great Sutton Street London ec1v 0dx, uk www.reaktionbooks.co.uk First published 2014 Copyright © Terry Satsuki Milhaupt 2014 e publishers would like to thank e Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for its support in the publication of this work All rights reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers Printed and bound in China on acid-free paper by C&C offset printing Co., Ltd. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library iSBN 978 1 78023 278 2
  • 5. iNTRoduCTioN 7 The FouNdATioNS oF A KiMoNo FAShioN iNduSTRy 31 ModeRNiziNG The KiMoNo 56 ShoPPiNG FoR KiMoNoS, ShAPiNG ideNTiTieS 97 The KiMoNo ideAL MiGRATeS WeST 139 KiMoNo deSiGNeRS 179 eveRydAy ANd exTRAoRdiNARy, TheN ANd NoW 229 References 249 Bibliography 275 Acknowledgements 287 Afterword 289 List of Illustrations 291 Index 303 One Two Three Four Five Six Co N T e N T S
  • 6. 7 iN T Ro d u C T i o N R ecognizable by its T-shaped outline, fluttering sleeves and flowing vertical panels draped from the wearer’s shoulders, the kimono embodies Japan, real and romanticized, familiar and foreign. in the popular imagination, the kimono often represents an unchanging, tradition-oriented, eternal Japan. But how and when did the identification of the kimono as Japan’s national costume occur? Why is the kimono more closely associated with the female than the male body? What processes led to the transformation of the kimono from an everyday garment to an icon of Japan? A review of the clothing worn by models on the covers of ‘Ladies’ Companion’ (Fujin no Tomo), one of Japan’s leading twentieth-century women’s magazines, provides a visual barometer of shifting post-Second World War attitudes towards the kimono. of the women featured on the covers from 1949 to 1956, more are shown wearing Western-style clothing than Japanese. From 1957 to 1962, the models themselves appear more cosmopolitan, their hair colour becoming lighter and lighter until it is rendered almost blonde and their facial characteristics more closely resembling Caucasian rather than Asian features. From 1967 to 1992, only one or two covers per year feature a woman wearing a kimono. however, without exception, the first issue of every year depicts a woman wearing a formal kimono ensemble. us, from the late 1960s until the early 1990s, the kimono was primarily promoted as a costume suitable for special occasions such as New year’s celebrations or Adult day ceremonies held in January, linking the kimono more closely with ‘tradition’ rather than ‘fashion’.1 visual artefacts such as the covers of ‘Ladies’ Companion’ reveal how the T-shaped silk kimono came to take on a symbolic meaning in the second half of the twentieth century. valued as a ceremonial garment and national costume, it continues to be worn in its traditional form for special occasions. however, since the beginning of the twenty-first century, women from a new generation have started to be drawn to it for less formal, more fashion- oriented reasons. To this younger generation of women, the clothing that their grandmothers and even their mothers might refer to as yōfuku, or
  • 7. 1 Cover of Utsukushii Kimono (Spring 2003), published by hachette Fujin Gahō. 2 Cover of Kimono Hime (April 2003), published by Shotensha. 8 ‘Western-style’ clothing, is as familiar as it is to their American and european contemporaries. To a select group within this younger generation, the kimono is an appealing alternative to the clothing they grew up with. in contrast to their mothers and grandmothers, who favoured newly manufactured, classic kimono fashions, some of today’s younger generation prefer vintage, second-hand kimonos. Aware of the generational differences among kimono consumers, magazine publishers now cater to particular market segments. in 2003, 50 years after the publisher Fujin Gahō released the first issue of ‘Beautiful Kimono’ (Utsukushii Kimono), a new magazine called ‘Kimono Princess’ (Kimono Hime) hit the news-stands. Whereas ‘Beautiful Kimono’ had emphasized classical and high-end kimonos worn primarily by women in their forties, fifties and sixties, the new publication focused on a younger market (illus. 1, 2). e title Kimono Hime, written with the word ‘kimono’ in romanized letters (which are usually reserved for foreign words), followed by the Chinese character for ‘princess’ (hime) targeted the newly emerging, kimono-buying women in their twenties and thirties. Kimono Hime empha- sized a new ‘kimono look’ that often featured the brightly coloured, bold patterns popular in the 1920s and ’30s, styled in edgy, unconventional combinations. Reflecting contemporary trends, the kimonos featured on the pages of Kimono Hime are not exclusively promoted as ceremonial wear, but rather are kimono
  • 8. 9 showcased as a variant form of the subculture phenomenon generally referred to as kawaii or ‘cute’. e kawaii style originated in the mid-1970s among young women. Many contemporary publications targeting this younger gener- ation of kimono wearers portray this ‘cute’ style with comic-like illustrations and staged scenes incorporating fanciful backdrops. e magazine Kimono Hime subscribes to this ‘playful attitude’ (asobi gokoro), showcasing kimono and obi combinations that are accessorized with matching handbags and jewellery, which asserts a less ceremonial, more light-hearted way of wearing kimonos. e magazine, capturing both local and global elements of the kimono in order to appeal to young people around the world, is only one of many manifestations of the reinvention of the kimono ‘tradition’ within Japan today. in recent years, enthusiasm for conventional and unconventional modes of kimono dress has spread via social networks and other electronic media to like-minded women around the world. Regardless of nationality, these young women view the kimono as simply another form of dress. ey freely reimagine the kimono’s use, not unlike their grandmothers’ adaptations of kimonos into tea or dressing gowns a century earlier. e profusion of media images on the internet enables kimono enthusiasts to transcend geographical and social borders to create new styles and settings for kimono wearers around the world. Wearing kimonos has become another way for younger generations to form their own fashion ‘tribes’ and identify with a particular social group. ese non-traditional kimono wearers have codified their styles in order to conform to recognizable group identities. in Japan, the relationship between social identity and dress dates back to the sumptuary edicts of the edo period (1600–1868). To this day, social groups in Japan devise strict rules mandating certain ‘looks’ that indicate, through clothing choices, one’s affiliation with the group. even rebel subculture groups, more commonly referred to as ‘tribes’ or zoku, dress in styles such as Gothic Lolita that employ prescribed rules for each type of ‘look’.2 Whether young or old, rural or urban, wealthy or middle class, kimono wearers convey multiple messages to viewers. Similar to past hierarchies of membership based on regulated codes of dress, nuanced rules of dress are once again in place. But today, those rules are recognizable only to informed members who participate in the group’s shared code of conduct. ose outside the ‘tribe’ only see that the wearer is engaging in an unconventional form of ‘traditional’ dress. Publications on how to wear kimonos remain a staple of many Japanese bookstores. e differentiated target audiences of these publications even reflect the classical kimono’s increasing multiplicity of symbolic meanings. Introduction
  • 9. 3 Cover of An An (May 2009). 10 For example, in 2006, Fujin Gahō, the publisher of ‘Beautiful Kimono’, released a special issue entitled ‘e Fundamentals of Kimono’ (Kimono no kihon).3 it includes a brief history of the kimono; descriptions of the various types of kimono for women, men and children; the proper season or occasion for wearing specific types; a section on how to coordinate the ensemble of kimono, obi and other accoutrements; and a section on how to care for kimonos. Similarly, the May 2009 cover of the magazine An An (illus. 3), which targets the general populace of young Japanese women rather than the more specific group of young women interested in vintage kimonos, features a young model posed in a conventional, ceremonial long-sleeved kimono. e issue emphasizes the ‘etiquette appropriate for a young Japanese woman’ (Nihon joshi no tashinami) and includes an article titled ‘Rediscovering Japan’s Traditional Culture’. Another type of kimono book serves to encourage Japanese women, who are often viewed as the bearers of ‘tradition’, to consider the kimono as a clothing item for everyday wear rather than limiting its use to ceremonial occasions. in 2005, domyō Mihoko, chief curator of the Bunka Gakuen Fashion Museum and a professor at Bunka Joshi daigaku, authored a book entitled ‘e Beauty of the Kimono Quickly understood: From hairdressing to Footwear’ (Sugu wakaru kimono no bi: kamikazari kara hakimono made).4 e same year, the Tokyo-based Parisian designer Maïa Maniglier published a book encouraging women (presumably Japanese women since the book was written in Japanese) to enjoy the experience of wearing kimonos – a pleasure the author had recently discovered.5 e essayist and illustrator hirano eriko published ‘Let’s Wear Kimono!’ (Kimono, Kiyō, yo!) in 2008.6 Written in a simple, engaging style coupled with her own illustrations, this small-format paperback offered an appealing entry into a world some Japanese view as foreign. Also in 2008, the publisher of Momi, playfully written with the Chinese characters for ‘safflower’ and ‘silk’, began to issue a series of small- format magazines targeting women in their twenties and thirties. An article in the second issue of Momi instructed readers on how to coordinate kimonos and accessories, and how to neatly pack them into a small suitcase for a one- week trip to the French fashion capital, Paris.7 one cannot help but wonder if the would-be traveller in the article is modelled, albeit in contemporary guise, kimono
  • 10. 11 on the iconic figure of uno Chiyo who, as described in chapter Five, designed kimonos suited for the streets of Paris. Pop culture figures such as the actress and singer Aida Shōko use their celebrity status to promote the kimono to a Japanese audience.8 even manga (Japanese-style comics) and anime (animation) artists such as the CLAMP illustrator Mokona have got in on the act. her book clamp Mokona’s Okimono Kimono includes some of her original kimono designs, her kimono ensembles styled for specific outings, and her interview about kimonos with pop star Ami onuki of Puffy Amiyumi. initially released in Japanese in 2007, the book was translated into english in 2010 in order to reach a global audience.9 As this brief review of recent publications reveals, the design, function and meaning of this garment have shifted dramatically in the last 50 years. e mutability of the kimono is part of a much longer pattern that began at the end of the seventeenth century and accelerated in the second half of the nineteenth century. e kimono has long served as a tableau on which to inscribe, describe and absorb the effects of modernization, a record of Japan’s efforts to shape its national identity on the world stage. e history of the kimono in the period covered by this book – roughly from 1850 to the present day – is relatively under-researched, occupying an expansive, uncharted territory. Major gaps in our knowledge exist between the end of the edo period, when the kimono was an everyday garment worn by many in Japan, to today, when it is primarily reserved for extraordinary occasions. Moreover, although canonical works have been identified and comprehensive studies have been published on clothing and the textile history of the pre-modern Momoyama (1573–1600) and edo eras, certain subjects – the significance of pattern design books, for example – have only garnered scholarly attention in the last decade. yet these pattern books document the existence of an organized and interdependent organization of clothing production in Japan from as early as the seventeenth century that provided the underpinnings of what i will refer to as the modern kimono fashion system (more on this below). in addition, they chronicle the motifs, dye colours and design compositions popular during each particular year. For example, within the pages of the earliest published pattern book is a design with six large cricket cages covering the back of a garment (illus. 5). When compared with a turn- of-the-century kimono, with its more naturalistic rendering of crickets amidst grasses and cages concentrated around the lower hem and sleeve areas, there is no denying that kimono fashions shifted to match the times (illus. 4). Kimono pattern books of the later Meiji (1868–1912), Taishō (1912–26) and Shōwa (1926–89) eras, made of thick, heavy paper lavishly embossed and embellished Introduction
  • 11. 13 with gold and silver paint, provide datable benchmarks for identifiable kimono design trends. e composition, motif and palette of each design illustrated in these books can, in turn, be compared with extant kimonos, serving as a basis to establish a general chronology of styles (illus. 6, 7).10 extant kimonos provide another source for exploring the kimono’s material history – and assessing how and why the kimono came to be a cultural icon. ese garments are snapshots of a specific time and place – a frozen moment of history visible in the material from which they are woven and decorated, the designs that adorn them, the form in which they are constructed and their mode of presentation. imagine examining an individual kimono through an optical device that permits viewing on micro- and macroscopic scales. By zooming in, the details of the kimono’s material and weave structure are apparent, allowing the viewer to make conjectures about the garment’s production and the techniques and tools employed by the people involved in its making. Moving from this central focus outward to gain a slightly broader perspective, sellers of kimonos – wholesalers, department stores and, later, antique and second-hand market dealers – come into focus. zooming out even further, the primary consumer and, later, private collectors and museum curators, appear. Considered in this way, the borders between an object, its maker, its marketer and ultimately its consumer are relational and reflexive. Introduction 5 Page with design of cricket cages, from On-Hiinagata (‘Kosode Pattern Book’, 1667), vol. i, woodblock- printed book, ink on paper. 4 Woman’s summer kimono (hitoe) with design of crickets and cricket cages, late 19th–early 20th century, resist-dyeing, hand painting and silk embroidery on gauze silk ground.
  • 12. 6 Page from ‘Collection of Shōun’s Patterns’ (Shōun moyō shū), a book of mod- ern kimono designs (1901), polychrome woodblock- printed book, embossing, ink, colour and metallic paint on paper. 7 Woman’s long-sleeved kimono (furisode) with design of hydrangeas and cherry blossoms, late 19th–early 20th century, resist-dyeing and hand painting on satin silk ground.
  • 13. 16 When subjected to an individual viewer’s gaze, the interpretation of a kimono’s values – historical, aesthetic, economic, social, cultural, symbolic – and meanings, at the time of its initial production and through its use and re-use, are filtered through that specific viewer’s lens. Collectively, these individualized ways of consuming and viewing kimonos become suggestive clues that can be gathered and recounted in more general patterns. is perspective offers a more comprehensive understanding of who controls, at various moments in time, the making, marketing and wearing of kimonos, and concurrently, whose identities get displayed on whose bodies. As will become apparent when viewed historically, after the 1870s the story of the kimono is focused on kimono fashions for women. Recounting the story of an individual kimono’s initial production, sale, ownership, use and later adaptations reveals much about Japan’s history. objects of known provenance and date, such as the wedding robe produced for the bride who married into the prominent itō family in 1897, offer glimpses into the past (illus. 8). For the occasion, this wealthy merchant family selected a figured silk patterned with tortoiseshell designs, sumptuously decorated with imperial carriage wheels amidst cherry blossoms floating on waves, embroidered with gold and silver threads. Carefully preserved in the Marubeni Collection for over 100 years and displayed today as an object of art, this wedding robe is one landmark in the timeline of kimono design history. images of people wearing kimonos convey the context for understanding who wore them, for which occasions and how they were worn. Prints, paintings and pattern books – and later, magazine ads, posters and photographs – pictorialize shifts in the relationship between the kimono and the body and illustrate how the widening obi sash altered the distribution of designs on the kimono. Measurements of extant Momoyama-era garments reveal that the body panels were approximately twice the width of the sleeve panels (illus. 9, 10). Given the extra girth, the garment hung more loosely around the body, and it was held in place with a narrow sash or cord wrapped around the hip area. Paintings of this period depict figures that appear fleshier than those of the following edo era. While this may be due to the style of a particular artist or his school, it might also result from the illusion created by the style of wearing the actual garment loosely tied around the body. By the mid-seventeenth century, the width of the body panel equals that of the sleeve panel on extant garments. in essence, the circumference of the body section of the garment became narrower than on its Momoyama-era counterpart, with the obi still tied low, around the hips. e obi remained relatively narrow, allowing for relatively uninterrupted decoration on garments from the mid- to late seventeenth century. often referred to as the Kanbun-style kimono
  • 14. 17 and named for the Kanbun era (1661–73) during which it flourished, designs of this time boldly sweep across the upper back and shoulder area, and down towards the hem. By the mid-eighteenth century, the obi had widened considerably, and was tied in elaborate configurations popularized by Kabuki actors and cour- tesans. is wider obi essentially bifurcated the garment into upper and lower design spaces. Kimono designers responded by concentrating their efforts on patterns that allowed for a visual disruption around the wearer’s mid-section and wasted little effort on areas that would be covered by the elaborately tied, wider obi. in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the obi covered much of a woman’s torso. Again, kimono designers responded by balancing Introduction 8 Woman’s wedding over- robe (uchikake) with design of cartwheels floating amid a stream of cherry blossoms, 1897, resist-dyeing with gold and silver-leaf painting and embroidery on patterned silk.
  • 15. 19 the visual emphasis on the obi with designs concentrated around the lower half of the kimono, with most pattern elements eventually pooling around the hem. visual imagery reminds us of the integral relationship between the kimono and the obi, and how the way the garment was wrapped and tied around the body contributed to ideals about fashionable silhouettes, ranging from stout to svelte at different historical moments. An actual kimono, and the constellation of images and texts used to interpret a particular kimono’s meaning, remains relatively unchanged. What changes is the viewer’s frame of reference, as over time new material comes to light, or as perspectives shift. ultimately these refracted impressions can never be entirely comprehensive or definitive. But when integrated, they do present a montage of history susceptible to interpretation, permitting the extrapolation of trends over time and across geographical borders. Based on an analysis of select objects, images and records – both historical and Introduction 9, 10 Garment with small- sleeve openings (kosode) with design of shells and sea grasses, and detail, early 17th century, silk embroidery and gold leaf imprinting patterned with warp floats on plain-weave silk ground.
  • 16. 20 contemporary – this book examines the kimono in both microscopic and macroscopic perspectives, revealing patterns in the evolution of the modern kimono. This is a book about the modern kimono. As a garment, the kimono is, of course, an element of fashion. yet the terms ‘modern’, ‘kimono’ and ‘fashion’ present a conundrum. each of these terms is highly contested, their meanings hotly debated among specialists. But in more general usage – as in the phrase ‘modern kimono fashion system’ which will be used to describe important relationships among designers, makers and promoters of kimonos – these terms demarcate a period of time when a particular type of garment (the kimono) operated within a larger sociological system (fashion).11 in this book ‘modern’ refers to the period from 1850, just before the American fleet under the command of Commodore Perry arrived in Japan to force open its ports to expanded international trade, to the present day.12 during this period, Japan evolved from a relatively secluded confederation of domains administered by the Tokugawa military government (shogunate) into a national polity under a centralized government, extensively engaged in international commerce and geopolitics. Massive reformation of the government, the rise of empire, and military defeat were experienced in turn. These monumental shifts in political ideology and global stature infiltrated every aspect of Japanese life, including daily decisions such as what to wear. As the cultural critic and art historian okakura Kakuzō (also known as Tenshin, 1862–1913) observed in his book The Ideals of the East (1904), changes in Japan’s national identity also influenced the attire of its people: e advent of the American Commodore Perry finally opened the flood- gates of Western knowledge, which burst over the country so as almost to sweep away the landmarks of its history. At this moment Japan, in the re-awakened consciousness of her new national life, was eager to clothe herself in new garb, discarding the raiment of her ancient past.13 one ‘raiment of her ancient past’ that survived the rush to ‘clothe herself in new garb’ was the kimono. increasingly, however, the kimono came to be associated with women’s bodies, not men’s, with attendant changes in its symbolism. in 1868, the Tokugawa military regime collapsed and the professional bureaucrats of the new Meiji government called for a more ‘civilized and enlightened’ society. in their attempt to place Japan on equal footing with kimono
  • 17. 21 Western nations, officials began to appear in what was then termed ‘Western- style clothing’ or yōfuku, as distinguished from wafuku, or Japanese-style clothing (illus. 11). e Meiji emperor first appeared in public in a Western- style uniform in 1872, only four years after the official shift to a centralized government with the emperor as its titular head (illus. 12). Around this time, the kimono became less recognizable as a distinguishing mark of social status or occupation, and was increasingly identified as Japan’s national dress. Japanese people, who until this time identified themselves principally with a particular socio-economic stratum (aristocrat, samurai, farmer, artisan or merchant), increasingly saw themselves as members of a larger social group with an emergent national identity, rather than one based on social status and feudal domain. on 17 January 1887, an imperial proclamation encouraged women of Japan to adopt Western modes of dress as the empress herself had done the previous year.14 despite the opportunity for women to jettison the kimono, neither women nor men did so altogether. in public, and in official appearances, men donned Western-style suits and uniforms. in the privacy of their homes and for informal occasions, however, the kimono remained the garment of choice. The velocity of change witnessed in men’s clothing habits was quite palpable, as evidenced in woodblock prints from that era of men predominantly wearing Western-style clothing. Women, however, were slower to adopt the bustles and corsets popular in europe and America. The kimono retained its currency among Japanese women, albeit with significant changes in its attendant and intended meanings, as will be explored below. Current interpretations of the word ‘kimono’, now part of the interna- tional lexicon and defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as a ‘long, loose Japanese robe worn with a sash’, or ‘similar dressing gown’, were shaped during the modern era beginning in the Meiji period. e term ‘kimono’, an abbrevi- ation of kirumono (literally ‘thing to wear’) derives its current definition from this time. For centuries, a variant of the T-shaped kimono was commonly worn in Japan, but it was referred to as a kosode, a garment with small-sleeve openings.15 Prior to the increasing awareness of Western-style clothing in Japan from the 1850s onwards, most Japanese referred to individual garments by specific terms, as discussed in chapter one. ese garments were cut from a single roll of cloth, commonly referred to as a tan, which measures approximately 34–40 cm in width and 11–12 m in length. Loom widths varied slightly over time, as did the cutting layout, which is based on simple, straight-edged construction techniques, and which minimizes the waste of fabric. Generally, the roll of cloth was cut into seven pieces – two body panels, two sleeve panels, two front overlaps and a collar – Introduction
  • 18. 23 and their straight edges were sewn together by hand to form the garment. variations in the construction of the garment’s details, for example the shape of the sleeve or the way the sleeve was attached to the body panel, indicated if it was made for a man or a woman. Status was indicated by the materials used to weave the fabric, whether silk, ramie, hemp or cotton, or by the labour-intensity of its decorative patterning. Commoners often wove and decorated their own cloth, sewed their own kimonos, unstitched them for laundering and re-sewed them for further use. When parts of an adult kimono became worn, the garment could be unstitched and re-sized for a child, or the fabric re-used to make other household items. The more lavish kimonos, like the ones illustrated in this chapter, were created by a group of loosely affiliated artisans working under the direction of a producer. e client would select the roll of cloth, often white silk that was available in various grades and could be a plain, patterned or textured fabric. in consul- tation with the producer, the client would then select the design and the preferred colours, using a kimono pattern book as a guide. The producer would take the roll of silk to the workshops of the various artisans whose skills were required for the multiple stages in the production process – pattern designer, dyer, embroiderer, seamstress – and deliver the finished garment to the client. each garment type bore its own name, depending on its sleeve length, function and the materials selected for its design. Today, most of these garments are subsumed under the single term ‘kimono’. in response to the influx of Western-style clothing beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the Japanese became aware of their distinctive mode of dress. it was from this time that the distinct categories of Western-style clothing (yōfuku) and Japanese-style clothing (wafuku) gained prominence. Within the wafuku category, the term ‘kimono’ gained currency, particularly outside Japan. in the Japanese lexicon, the word kimono continues to circulate, even today, in variant writing styles with inherited connotations: in kanji (Chinese characters), hiragana (the phonetic syllabary usually reserved for Japanese words), katakana (generally the phonetic syllabary used for words of foreign origin) and in its romanized form. extant kimonos, as well as the shifting meanings of the word itself, chronicle cultural developments, reflect shifts in aesthetic tastes and denote social identities. As such, the kimono and its meaning have changed with the times – it is anything but ‘traditional’.16 is brings us to the term ‘fashion’. As with most words, the term ‘fashion’ is historically and contextually determined.17 Fashion is often defined and described in relation to european clothing, while Japanese-style clothing – and the kimono in particular – stands apart from this limited category.18 Introduction 11 utagawa hiroshige iii, ‘Cherry Blossom viewing in ueno Park’ (from the ‘Famous Places of Tokyo’ series), 1881, triptych of polychrome woodblock prints, ink and colour on paper. 12 utagawa Kuniyasu, ‘Mirror of high officials of the empire’ (Kokoku kōkan kagami), 1887, triptych of polychrome woodblock prints, ink and colour on paper.
  • 19. 24 Recent scholarship on fashion, however, questions the exclusivity of this mode of thinking and calls for an expanded definition of fashion that ‘must encompass the basic process of style change, without the requirement that it be the continuous process evident in recent Western industrial societies’.19 in his discussion of fashion in the Western context, the philosopher Lars Svendsen notes that ‘fashion in its modern sense – with quick changes and a constant challenge to the individual to keep abreast of the age – did not become a real force until the eighteenth century’.20 Fashion is often defined as a phenomenon that targets change for the sake of change.21 e Oxford English Dictionary defines fashion as a ‘current popular custom or style, esp. in dress’, and secondarily as a ‘manner or style of doing something’. Clearly, the terms ‘fashion’ and ‘clothing’ are not interchangeable. Fashion is intangible; clothing is tangible.22 But, as the oed’s definition implies, the two are closely associated. in Japan, the term ryūkō, comprising the characters for ‘to flow’ and ‘to conduct oneself or to proceed’ has been used to express the concept of ‘styles’ or ‘trends’. other Japanese terms for similar concepts, such as imamekashii or ‘up-to-date’ and tōfū or ‘current style’, had been in use for centuries before the introduction of the foreign word fuasshon into Japan. e term fuasshon, the Japanese pronunciation of the english term ‘fashion’, and written in katakana characters, has also come into common usage to refer to changes in styles. As with the kimono garment itself, the many terms for fashion connote nuanced meanings that are often misinterpreted in cultural translations. As fashion statements, modern kimono designers incorporated novel materials, techniques, motifs and compositions into their repertoire in order to create the most up-to-the-minute designs. For example, yachts and european-style architecture, surprising to the Japanese eye in the first half of the twentieth century, appeared on kimonos (illus. 13). e rendering of the landscape and the shading effects on this particular kimono, reminiscent of Western-style oil painting techniques, were adapted to Japanese dyeing tech- niques. it would be simplistic to argue that Japan was ‘borrowing’ these motifs or painting techniques from the West in their efforts to impart a ‘modern’ feel to the kimono.23 Rather than copying or imitating the West – which actually adopted the kimono format from Japan – kimono designers in Japan sought to employ the latest materials and techniques to create new designs that were distinctive to the Japanese context. other examples that on the surface may appear ‘traditional’ to our twenty-first century eyes are innovative in more subtle ways. A kimono decorated with the conventional combination of plum, pine and bamboo motifs, commonly referred to as shōchikubai, might at first glance appear ‘traditional’ (illus. 14). yet its playful expression of hand-painted pines, woven bamboo and embroidered and stylized plum blossoms, and its kimono
  • 20. 25 unusual composition that breaks the design space into a broad upper band of deep purple and a narrower band of lavender at the hem, would likely have surprised and delighted a Japanese customer. in other words, this kimono was likely considered new and up-to-date at the time of its production by anyone who recognized how the composition and techniques disguised and transformed conventional motifs. roughout history, changes in the kimono’s design, use and meaning have reflected transformations in Japanese society, politics, economics and international status. Within Japan, the kimono evolved from an item of daily wear to become an iconic marker of Japaneseness. in Japan’s early twentieth- century colonial territories, the kimono was worn both by the colonizer and the colonized, sending complex signals depending on whose body it adorned.24 exported to and embraced by consumers in europe, Britain and America, the kimono functioned as costume as well as clothing. drawing upon broader discussions of gender, cosmopolitanism, consumerism and fashion theory, the following chapters consider how one Asian nation embraced modernity on its own terms – how Japan manipulated the kimono in its quest to establish a recognizable national identity in an increasingly cosmopolitan world. Situating the kimono within its early nexus of production, marketing and consumption, the first chapter, ‘The Foundations of a Kimono Fashion industry’, discusses the fabrication of the kimono within a pre-modern integrated fashion system. is historical overview focuses on kimono pattern books, which have been published continuously since as early as 1666. ese pattern books provide evidence of a sophisticated system of production, distribution and consumption of fashionable attire in Japan in the late seven- teenth century, which forms the core of the modern kimono industry. The chapter examines how kimono makers, marketers, consumers and leaders of fashion collaborated in their efforts to perpetuate an ‘economy of desire’ and stimulate demand for fashionable clothing. For the Japanese, elements of changing fashions were manifest not in the silhouette of a garment (as in european, British and American fashion), but within the confines of the kimono’s outline. documents reveal how kimono producers of the edo era constantly pressured weavers and dyers to develop new patterns, colours, decorative techniques and compositions to satisfy their fashion- hungry customers. Chapter Two, ‘Modernizing the Kimono’, focuses on the selective incor- poration of foreign materials and technology imported to Japan during the second half of the nineteenth century and their combined effect on kimono design trends. e chapter indicates that, rather than adopting or copying Introduction Overleaf 13 Woman’s long-sleeved kimono (furisode) with design of yachts in a land- scape setting, 1920s–30s, paste-resist dyeing on silk crepe ground. 14 Woman’s kimono with design of pines, plum and bamboo, second quarter of the 20th century, ink and gold, silk embroidery on figured silk ground.
  • 21. 28 imported tools and concepts whole cloth, as is commonly assumed, Japan’s approach to modernizing the kimono industry was adaptive and innovative. is chapter also describes the increasing integration of Japan’s domestic textile industry into world textile markets and surveys the shifting symbolic and economic values of silk, cotton and other types of fabrics utilized in kimono production. e third chapter, ‘Shopping for Kimonos, Shaping identities’, discusses the effects of the emergence of Japanese department stores in the first few decades of the twentieth century, new advertising techniques, the rise of a largely female consumer base and the wide distribution of magazines targeting a female readership through domestic marketing strategies and distribution channels. e politics of display, promotion of branded goods and changing aesthetics of taste all had an impact on consumers’ demands for specific modes of dress that reflected distinct social identities. Chapter Four, ‘e Kimono ideal Migrates West’, chronicles the kimono’s journey to Britain, europe and America from the 1850s and through the first half of the twentieth century. is chapter describes how the kimono’s appropriation by artists and designers active within and outside Japan has contributed to the construction of the ‘kimono ideal’. To the British, europeans and Americans, the kimono personified an exotic and often erotic Japan. Recognizing outsiders’ interest in kimonos, the Japanese – from institutions to private individuals – manipulated and promoted the ‘kimono ideal’, modifying perceptions of this form of dress. Chapter Five, ‘Kimono designers’, examines how the role of kimono makers evolved from nameless artisans to designated Living National Treasures, and analyses how the shifting status of the maker paralleled the kimono’s transformation from an item of everyday clothing to an exclusively ceremonial garment. e broad chronological sweep of this chapter, from the eighteenth century to the period after the Second World War, provides the perspective needed to understand this transformation. e final chapter, ‘everyday and extraordinary, en and Now’, offers reflections on how the kimono’s use and meaning in contemporary society relates to its past. Recent Japanese publications and observers of street fash- ion suggest that Japan experienced a ‘kimono boom’ in the decades around the turn of the twenty-first century. Nostalgia for the Taishō era appeared in the form of vintage kimonos paired with jeans or cut and re-sewn into chic garments. Perhaps stimulated by popular interest in the modern kimono, private collectors have begun exhibiting their treasures, publishers have devoted entire issues of magazines to the topic, scholars have expanded their historical horizons to incorporate the study of nineteenth- and twentieth- century kimonos, and vintage and newly produced kimonos are available for kimono
  • 22. 29 sale globally through the internet. Whether incorporating old kimonos into new looks or simply collecting them as objects to be viewed and appreciated, kimonos of myriad styles remain in fashion among disparate groups both within and outside Japan’s borders. Introduction
  • 23. 31 15 Woman’s garment with small-sleeve openings (kosode) with design of fishing net and characters (‘uguisu’, warbler), probably 1660s, silk, metallic threads, silk embroidery, tied resist-dyeing (shibori). one Th E Fo u n D AT I o n S o F A KI M o n o FA S h I o n In D u S T ry Fashions have changed from those of the past and have become increasingly ostentatious. In everything people have a liking for finery above their station. Women’s clothes in particular go to extremes. Because they forget their proper place, extravagant women should be in fear of divine punishment. Even the robes of the awesome high-ranking families used to be of nothing finer than Kyoto habutae. Black clothing with five crests cannot be called inappropriate to anyone from daimyo down to commoner. But in recent years, certain shrewd Kyoto people have started to lavish every manner of magnificence on men’s and women’s clothes and to put out design books in color. Ihara Saikaku1 T he modern kimono fashion system arose from institutional foundations shaped at the turn of the seventeenth century. During that time, the Tokugawa family came to power, establishing a military government with its capital in Edo (modern-day Tokyo), and organizing the feudal domains into a semblance of the nation state now recognized as Japan.2 During the Edo period, the four-tiered social ranking system positioned the governing samurai at the top, supported by farmers who tilled the land and provided daily staples. Artisans who crafted material goods ranked third in the social hierarchy, while the merchants who traded in those products occupied the lowest recognized social status. Together the artisans and merchants were classified as ‘townspeople’, or chōnin, and constituted the basis of the urban economy. A Kanbun-style kosode of the type favoured by chōnin is shown opposite (illus. 15). e outward appearance of a clearly defined hierarchy, however, camouflaged significant economic disparities and contradictions. Some samurai were quite poor and engaged in menial tasks, while some merchants, ostensibly occupying the bottom social stratum, attained economic success on a par with elite samurai. Moreover, the elite constituted only a small percentage of Edo-period society; the peasantry constituted more than 80 per cent of the population. Clothing visually distinguished classes, but did not coincide with the official social ranking system. For example, farmers,
  • 24. 32 who ranked second in the social hierarchy, wore clothing made of durable, inexpensive materials with sleeves that afforded ease of movement (illus. 16, 17). Peasants could rarely afford the luxurious silks worn by some of the wealthier, but socially inferior, townspeople. e main social cleavage existed between the ruling samurai and the commoners. is situation was aggravated by the fact that, although political power was held by the shogunate, economic power was slowly filtering from the samurai class into the hands of the merchants. e merchant class became the patrons of the arts and fashion- makers of the day, displaying their material wealth to the chagrin and envy of the samurai elite. Conspicuous consumption displayed through clothing choices exposed the entangled relationship between social and economic status in seventeenth- century Japan. In his book ‘Japanese Family Storehouse’ (Nihon Eitaigura, 1688), the social satirist Ihara Saikaku (1642–1693) lamented the large amounts of money spent on lavish clothing in pursuit of the desire to live above one’s station in life. he admonished women for their extravagance and for disregarding proper deportment. Implicated in fuelling the desire for ‘finery above their station’ were ‘shrewd’ producers of pattern design books. ese pattern books, or ‘design books’ as Saikaku referred to them, reveal the existence of an integrated fashion system among the three major cities of Kyoto, osaka and Edo from at least the third quarter of the seventeenth century. is genre of books, commonly referred to as kimono pattern books (kosode moyō hinagatabon), appear to have served three interrelated functions as kimono makers’ manuals, consumer catalogues and fashion plates or adver- tisements. All three functions were crucial to the promotion and development of the textile industry, and the existence of these books is strong evidence of a sophisticated fashion system in seventeenth-century Japan. By facilitating a steady demand for new garments and emphasizing the rapidly changing styles of the time, textile purveyors and textile producers, in tandem with the publishing industry, all derived benefits from changing fashions. Trends in clothing design were documented in ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the fashion leaders of the day: namely, women of the pleasure quarters and Kabuki actors. e woodblock prints, coupled with the pattern books, not only provide a wealth of information about prevailing styles of that era, but also reveal possible collaboration between the textile and publishing industries in their mutual efforts to stimulate consumers’ desire for fashionable attire.3 Based on his study of Isoda Koryūsai’s ‘Pattern Book of the year’s First Designs, Fresh as Spring herbs’ (Hinagata wakana no hatsumoyō, c. 1775) print series, Allen hockley suggests the existence of a ‘relationship between the brothel owners, the Hinagata prints, and fabric or kimono merchants’ (illus. 18).4 Although conclusive evidence documenting who underwrote the cost of such print series kimono 16, 17 Farmer’s jacket, and detail, first half of 20th century, recycled strips of woven cotton for wefts and wisteria for warps.
  • 25. 34 continues to elude scholars, many agree that publishers selected the print designers and featured subject- matter based on their assessment of what would sell. In other words, the prints were commercial products. Woodblock-printed images showcased fashionable clothing available to consumers in Edo-period society. Prints from such series as ‘Contemporary Beauties in Summer Garments’ (Natsu ishō tōsei bijin, c. 1804–06) by Kitagawa utamaro (1753–1806) served as a form of visual communication between the kimono producer, the kimono seller and the consumer, and may be viewed as a form of advertising.5 Single-sheet print designers like utamaro participated in the promo- tion of textile makers and kimono sellers. In utamaro’s ‘Contemporary Beauties’ series, conspicuous logos of actual kimono purveyors emblazon shop curtains that flutter behind female models promoting the latest summer garments (illus. 19).6 In each print, a woman models a summer garment made from a particular type of fabric. e upper left or right corner of the print features an actual logo from shops such as Echigoya, Matsuzakaya, Daimaru and Shirokiya, along with a brief description of the featured textile. is series of nine prints promoted the textile products, the shops and quite possibly even the print designer’s virtuosity in the handling of textile subject matter.7 us the textile maker, the kimono seller and the print designer, as well as the publisher, all benefited from the sale and circulation of the ‘Contemporary Beauties’ series.8 Prints, pattern books, works of fiction and shopping guides produced by the publishing industry stimulated an awareness of the types of goods that were available, what was considered fashionable and where the goods could be purchased.9 e publication of pattern books, like that of woodblock prints, kimono 18 Isoda Koryūsai, ‘Courtesan Takamura of the Komatsuya with her Two young Attendants’, from the series ‘Pattern Book of the year’s First Designs, Fresh as Spring herbs’ (Hinagata wakana no hatsumoyō), c. 1775, polychrome woodblock print, ink and colour on paper.
  • 26. 35 was a collaborative effort requiring input from several participants: publisher, designer, carver and printer.10 e publisher was central to the effort. his responsibilities entailed commissioning and marketing the prints, as well as overseeing the various stages of a print or book’s production.11 In fact, design- ers, block carvers and printers worked under the direction of the publishers, and were sometimes employed by them. Kimono pattern books are thus firmly fixed at the crossroads of the publishing and textile industries. e pre-modern advertising tactic of using celebrities to model and market clothing is, of course, still evident today. As the literary and cultural historian David Pollack has observed: 19 Kitagawa utamaro, ‘Suited to Tie-dyed Fabrics Stocked by Matsuzakaya’ (Matsuzakaya shi-ire no shibori muki), from the series ‘Contemporary Beauties in Summer Garments’ (Natsu ishō tōsei bijin), c. 1804–06, polychrome woodblock print, ink and colour on paper.
  • 27. 20, 21 Woman’s garment with small-sleeve openings (kosode) with design of willow tree and Chinese characters (and detail: character ‘hige’, whiskers), 18th century, paste-resist dyeing and stencil dyeing with silk embroidery and couched gold thread on silk.
  • 28. 38 It was not enough that actors and courtesans, in their important function as human billboards, should be seen wearing the latest designs and fashions, and that artists, like paparazzi, should seek to depict them that way for devoted fans avid for every last shred of information about them. Actors, courtesans, sumo wrestlers, shop girls, restaurants, and teahouses worked together with the artists who depicted them in much the same lucrative constellations of advertising practices that have been used by Japanese media and department stores in recent decades, continuing the old practice of using popular [celebrities] to sell all manner of goods.12 By linking textile manufacturers, kimono makers and kimono purveyors in these ‘lucrative constellations of advertising practices’, pattern books open a window onto the origins of the kimono fashion world. Styled for Status Edo-period pattern books focused primarily on designs for variant types of the T-shaped garment known today as the kimono. e kosode, the prototype of the modern kimono, was only one among many sartorial choices. In the early eighteenth century, some women of the merchant class favoured yūzen (paste resist)-dyed robes with designs of flowing calligraphic characters embedded in the foliage of a single standing tree (illus. 20, 21). reflective of its wearer’s sensibility, taste and knowledge of classical poetry, these garments challenged the viewer to decipher and identify the poetic allusion presented. young, unmarried women wore furisode, a garment of similar construction to the kosode but distinguished by long, fluttering sleeves. An uchikake, often more heavily padded at the hem to enhance the drape of the garment, was worn as an outer garment or overrobe. An early nineteenth-century bride’s uchikake, embellished with auspicious symbols such as ornamental paper decorations folded to resemble dried abalone strips (noshi, traditionally associated with the ceremonial exchange of betrothal gifts) as well as cranes and tortoises (symbols of longevity), can be seen opposite (illus. 22). Clothing revealed a person’s wealth; the materials and exquisite workmanship invested in this wedding gar- ment asserted the economic status of its owner and her merchant-class family. A light summer garment, or katabira, resembles the kosode’s form, but is unlined and made of bast fibres derived from plants rather than silk.13 A light- weight, unlined summer garment made of silk was referred to as a hitoe. A family crest prominently featured along the shoulder area of a robe – such as the highly recognizable Tokugawa crest – served to identify the garment as a kimono 22 Woman’s wedding over- robe (uchikake) with design of auspicious imagery, early 19th century, shaped-resist dyeing with silk embroidery and couched gold thread on silk.
  • 29. 23, 24 Woman’s summer garment (hitoe) with design of cormorant fishing and Tokugawa crest (detail), early 19th century, paste-resist dyeing with silk embroidery and couched gold thread on silk.
  • 30. 43 family treasure for which no expense was spared (illus. 23, 24). During the Edo era, some women of the military class favoured imagery of cormorants and fishing boats for their summer wardrobe. is combination of elements retained its popularity as a summer motif well into the twentieth century, although it was no longer reserved for members of the elite. In its updated iteration, vividly coloured cormorants and floral patterns made with chemical dyes explode against a subdued backdrop of stylized swirling water patterns, a syncopated re-envisioning of the native rinpa and exotic Art nouveau styles (illus. 25). Many other styles of garments existed in Japan during the Edo era. Different types of garments reflected the wearers’ economic and social status, gender, age and occupation. Certain articles of clothing visibly differentiated people of diverse social classes, and simultaneously distinguished an individual within a specific group.14 e materials, motifs and construction of military campaign coats (jinbaori), for example, marked their wearers as men belonging to the military class (illus. 26). Modelled after European tailoring techniques popularized by Dutch and Portuguese traders active in Japan from the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth century, the jinbaori identified its wearer as a member of an elite group familiar with the world outside of Japan’s borders. e jinbaori accentuated an individual’s personal taste in a number of ways. rare materials such as imported Persian carpets, feathers of exotic birds or animal pelts were used in their construction. Bold, striking designs emblazoned on the garment’s back heightened the wearer’s visibility on the battlefield. Members of the military class, who ostensibly occupied the top rung of the four-tiered social ladder of the Edo period, found themselves increasingly constrained economically. Battlefield prowess became less essential in relatively peaceful, increasingly mercantilist Edo-era society. For members of the merchant class, the tension generated by the disparity between their subordinate social position and their burgeoning wealth found expression in their penchant for elaborate and conspicuous clothing. e Tokugawa government responded by issuing sumptuary laws to regulate the types of dress suitable for specific classes of society.15 ese laws, promulgated from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, reflect the government’s attempt to maintain rigid social distinctions by prohibiting individuals from transgressing class boundaries and thereby upsetting the prevailing social hierarchy.16 An edict issued in the Mito domain in 1829, for example, allowed ‘those above the rank of samurai [to] wear undergarments made of silk or pongee as may their wives and daughters’, and ordered ‘all those of a rank below that of samurai [to] use only cotton clothing’.17 Edo-period society was stratified based on neo-Confucianism, the guiding philosophy of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate. Confucian ideology not only The Foundations of a Kimono Fashion Industry 25 Woman’s summer kimono (hitoe) with design of cormorant fishing, second quarter of the 20th century, paste-resist dyeing and hand painting with silk embroidery and supplementary weft lacquered threads on silk.
  • 31. 44 legitimized the ordering of society and the preservation of the status quo, it also emphasized the importance of frugality. us, the sumptuary edicts were also designed to discourage the flaunting of material wealth by the merchant class, and perhaps to thereby conceal underlying economic realities. As early as 1617, a law was issued in Edo prohibiting gold and silver leaf appliqué on the clothing of prostitutes.18 An order in 1656 threatened the arrest of anyone dressed in splendid clothes or bearing a presumptuous appearance.19 After the great Edo fire of 1657, strict regulations were issued concerning the colour kimono 26 Man’s military campaign surcoat (jinbaori) with design of a torn fan, late 18th–early 19th century, metallic threads, silver and bone on wool and silk.
  • 32. 45 and style of decoration that merchants were allowed to wear. one of the amusements of the merchant class was finding ways to circumvent these regu- lations. In 1663, the shogunate issued an order limiting the amount of money that could be spent on clothing worn by the empress dowager, the imperial princesses, the shogun’s consorts and attendant ladies of the castle; a similar order issued in 1713 regulated the dress of daimyōs’ (feudal lords’) wives as well.20 e order of 1713 stated that ‘clothing which has become usual is permitted. But you should not frequently replace your garments with fine ones. Articles bestowed upon you are exceptions.’21 e exemption for ‘articles bestowed’ may have contributed to the practice of wealthy merchants requesting that artists make fine, one-of-a-kind, painted kimonos to be given as gifts. Kimono fashion competitions among the wives of merchants, each vying for recognition in their circumscribed world, demonstrate how a garment’s value was influenced not only by the existence of labour-intensive decorative techniques, but also by the name of the garment’s maker. An oft-repeated bit of Japanese fashion lore tells the story of a fashion competition among women from the three urban metropolises: Kyoto, Edo and osaka.22 According to this story, the wife of naniwaya Jūemon, a wealthy trader from osaka, wore an ‘exquisite scarlet satin kimono, embroidered with scenes of Kyoto in silver and gold’. e Edo representative, purportedly the wife of Ishikawa rokubei, appeared wearing a simple black kimono embroidered with sprays of nanten, a slender evergreen shrub with small red berries. e ladies of Kyoto thought that the rather dull black kimono from Edo was no match for the brilliant robe of the osaka contender, until further information convinced them otherwise. Apparently, the black kimono worn by the Edo representative was ‘designed by the great [ogata] Kōrin [1658–1716] and . . . the nanten berries had not been embroidered but were made of rare red coral. e obi was antique Chinese gold brocade. e kimono was not only dignified but also worth a fortune.’23 In another version of the story that appeared in the late eighteenth- century gazetteer ‘An old Man’s Weeds’ (Okinagusa), the contestant from Edo wears a simple black kimono, again designed by Kōrin, surrounded by her attendants, who are all dressed in colourful garments.24 In this version, the juxtaposition of a single figure wearing a black robe designed by Kōrin against a bevy of colourful garments allowed the Edo contestant to stand out in her refined simplicity. us in eighteenth-century Japan, savvy consumers already recognized designer-brand garments. So popular were Kōrin-inspired motifs that pattern books invoked his name long after his death. The Foundations of a Kimono Fashion Industry
  • 33. 46 Pattern Books e first kimono pattern books were published in 1666 (illus. 27).25 Approximately 170 to 180 were published between 1666 and 1820.26 Most images appearing in kimono pattern books followed a standardized format with a woodblock-printed illustration featuring a kimono-shaped outline decorated with various motifs. Within some publications, textual commentary further specified the dye colours, dyeing methods and other decorative tech- niques for a particular design. Within a ‘large-scale market economy’ that was ‘abetted by the publishing industry’, kimono producers pressured weavers and dyers to develop new colours, decorative techniques, patterning and compositions to satisfy their fashion-hungry customers.27 e pattern books appear to have emerged as desirable commodities in themselves around the late 1680s, as evidenced by the appearance of hinagatabon titles in catalogues and at the end of books of other genres.28 For example, the end page of ‘Picture Book of the Pond’s heart’ (Ehon ike no kokoro, 1740), illustrated by nishikawa Sukenobu (1671–1750) and published by Kikuya Kihei, lists other titles by Sukenobu as well as kimono pattern books illustrated by a man named nonomura.29 As textile and clothing historian Maruyama nobuhiko notes, pattern books associated with the names of specific designers began to proliferate in the Genroku era (1688–1704), suggesting a stable market for hinagatabon that allowed designers to specialize in this genre of illustration.30 Pattern books served as a kimono maker’s design source and as a kimono seller’s catalogue of available merchandise. Illustrations from woodblock-printed pattern books, which often bear publication dates, can be matched with extant garments. An early-eighteenth- century kosode with designs of hanging scrolls dangling from willow trees executed in the yūzen-dyeing tech- nique, for example, is plainly related to the illustration in the pattern book entitled ‘Patterns of the Well of the Chrysanthemum’ (Kiku no i, 1719).31 A slightly later example pairs an eighteenth-century kimono bearing a scene of fishermen pulling a boat through a marsh of reeds with a similar design from the pattern book ‘Sleeves’ Peak’ (Hinagata sode no yama, 1757) (illus. 28, 29). e evolving relationship between kimono makers and sellers throughout the Edo period ultimately affected kimono 27 Page with design of plovers over waves from On-hiinagata (‘Kosode Pattern Book’, 1667), vol. i, woodblock-printed book, ink on paper.
  • 34. 47 the function and production of pattern books. e establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate in the city of Edo in the early seventeenth century required that producers in Kyoto service customers in the distant region of Edo, at least until a textile industry could be established closer to that region. e pattern books, therefore, were no longer just a tool to be used by dyers and clothing designers, but became a medium for suppliers to communicate with consumers. (‘Consumers’ in this case had the resources to order custom- made clothing from pattern books, unlike the majority of the population, who wove and dyed their own clothing. As such, pattern books obviously catered to a narrow audience concerned with the fashionable, not necessarily the practical.) Garments illustrated in pattern books were available to a woman of means, regardless of her position within the formal social hierarchy.32 e publication ‘Compendium of Patterns of our Country’ (Wakoku hiinagata taizen, 1698) provides one example of the marketing of Kyoto designs to the Edo populace. is became possible as the woodblock-printing industry extended its initial base in Kyoto to osaka, and eventually to Edo.33 Analysis of this publication reveals several connections between the textile and publishing industries. e designer of the kimono patterns featured in the book was a Kyoto dyer–painter named Imura Katsukichi. one of the earliest named designers – a practice unknown in the world of single-sheet woodblock prints – Imura designed at least four different pattern books.34 In each book, The Foundations of a Kimono Fashion Industry 28 Woman’s garment with small-sleeve openings (kosode) with design of men pulling fishing boats through reeds, 1775–1800, paste-resist dyeing with silk embroidery and ink painting on silk. 29 Sasaki Seibei, design no. 97 with men pulling boats through reeds, from pattern book ‘Sleeves’ Peak’ (Hinagata sode no yama, 1757), woodblock-printed book, ink on paper.
  • 35. 48 the designer’s work is identified as ‘picture by the Kyoto dyer–painter Imura Katsukichi’, implying that he was engaged in the textile industry. But he also interacted with the publishing industry, producing kimono designs for pattern books.35 Moreover, the publication information on the end sheet of one book suggests that, by the late seventeenth century, publishers from Edo and Kyoto cooperated in the distribution of pattern books. ‘Compendium of Patterns of our Country’ was initially distributed in Edo by the publisher nishimura rizaemon and in Kyoto by Muta Jizaemon. e distribution of the book in Edo implies that the publishers believed people in Edo would be interested in designs created by a Kyoto-based dyer, and that fashions had migrated beyond regional boundaries. An illustration attributed to hishikawa Moronobu (d. c. 1694) from a pattern book known as ‘Kosode Patterns: Crests Inserted’ (Mon-iri Kosode no hinagata, c. 1680) provides an early example of the use of a pattern book. e illustration depicts a man with a pattern book laid open in front of him and two garments on racks beside him, listening to the instructions of his female customer. obviously set within the customer’s home, this illustration depicts the textile merchant at work.36 hishikawa Moronobu is a figure who could be said to stand at the intersection of the textile and publishing worlds. Moronobu’s biography is vague, though many claim he was the grandson of an indigo dyer (hishikawa Shichiemon) and the son of an embroiderer from hoda in Awa province (part of present-day Chiba prefecture).37 Moronobu’s textile back- ground may have provided him with a particular appreciation for fabrics and designs, which he conveyed through his paintings. In addition to paintings and illustrations for books, Moronobu is also credited with producing a number of kimono pattern books (illus. 30).38 e preface to a pattern book attributed to Moronobu proclaims the illustrator’s desire to present novel designs.39 other illustrations provide examples of the use of pattern books and single-sheet illustrations of kimono designs by consumers and merchants. In a manual of proper female conduct known as the ‘Picture Book of Purple Edo’ (Ehon Edo murasaki, 1765), an illustration by Ishikawa Toyonobu shows a mother instructing her two daughters in the selection of an uchikake. At the mother’s right lies a pattern book and to her left are bolts of fabric. In this example, the actual function of the pattern book is ambiguous. e pattern kimono 30 Attributed to hishikawa Moronobu, page with book and handscroll design from ‘newly Published Kosode Pattern Book’ (Shinpan kosode on-hinagata, 1677), woodblock-printed book, ink on paper.
  • 36. 49 book’s illustrations may have been provided to the customer, together with the bolts of silk, in order to help the customer visualize the finished product. or perhaps the book is also functioning as a fashion magazine, representing the most up-to-date designs and influencing the fashion choices of customers. In another example, ‘e Echigoya Kimono Shop’ from the series ‘e Cultivation of Silkworms’ (Kaiko yashinai gusa), illustrated jointly by Katsukawa Shunshō and Kitao Shigemasa, a clerk from the Echigoya kimono shop (later to become the Mitsukoshi department store in the early twentieth century) visits two women in their home (illus. 31). he is about to present a bolt of crepe-silk The Foundations of a Kimono Fashion Industry 31 Katsukawa Shunshō, ‘e Echigoya Kimono Shop’ (print no. 12) from the series ‘e Cultivation of Silkworms’ (Kaiko yashinai gusa), c. 1772, polychrome woodblock print, ink and colour on paper.
  • 37. 50 (chirimen), and has already spread a single-sheet illustration or drawing of a kosode design on the floor in front of the customer. here the illustration serves the quite practical function of helping the customer visualize the finished kimono. nishikawa Sukenobu, a Kyoto- based ukiyo-e painter and book illustrator of such titles as the previ- ously mentioned ‘Picture Book of the Pond’s heart’, is another well- known figure in the book publishing and painting worlds.40 In the first volume of a set of five kimono pat- tern books designed by nishikawa entitled ‘nishikawa’s Book of Patterns’ (Nishikawa hinagata, 1718), the frontispiece depicts women perusing a pattern book with a bolt of cloth nearby (illus. 32). one woman declares ‘Such an unusual design’, while her compan- ions provide affirmations such as ‘Select one that pleases you’ and ‘is one should do’.41 e two- page frontispiece from the fourth volume portrays a male figure, possibly the artist himself, drawing a kimono design with a brush (illus. 33).42 To the right of the artist is a colophon that can be roughly translated as ‘Just as you prefer’, with a woman beside him responding, ‘Be sure to brush in all the detail’. In the illustration, the entire kimono design is produced on a single sheet of paper. is suggests that the designer was commissioned to create a design that could be circulated either as a single-sheet woodblock print or an illustrated page in a kimono pattern book, because in the conventional binding method for Japanese books, two kimono designs would have been drawn on the same sheet, which was then folded for insertion into the book. e inclusion of what may be a self- portrait of the designer suggests that the status of pattern-book designers was equal to that of designers of other types of published material. kimono
  • 38. 51 A detailed illustration revealing the multiple functions of kimono pattern books appears in the frontispiece of the book entitled ‘Pattern Book for order Selections’ (Chūmon no hinagata, 1716) (illus. 34).43 In this image, a merchant seated on a veranda presents a selection of fabrics to his client. e merchant’s assistant, anticipating a long wait, relaxes near his box of goods in the lower right corner. Within the room attached to the veranda, women excitedly copy designs from the pattern book, seeming to obsess over the latest products. In a detail of the women, one remarks, ‘e dyed items from Kyoto are fabulous’, while another observes, ‘e patterns in these order books are wonderful.’44 e woman perusing the pattern book exclaims, ‘I agree. Let’s choose designs from this book’, while the woman seated in the position of prominence states, ‘Be sure to tell them to be careful.’ From this one scene, it is clear that kimono pattern books functioned as sellers’ catalogues for use by customers. Less clear is the purpose of copying designs. Were designs from pattern books copied and disseminated to friends in the way we might tear an ad from a Vogue magazine to get a friend’s opinion? or was the copy taken to a kimono maker who might produce a knock-off at a cheaper price? Did the merchant have a proprietary interest in or copyright to the images, or did he benefit in some way from their reproduction and circu- lation? e fact that the preface to this ‘Pattern Book for order Selections’ was written by Imura Katsukichi, possibly the same man who illustrated the previously described ‘Compendium of Patterns of our Country’, suggests that kimono patterns created or endorsed by noteworthy designers such as Imura The Foundations of a Kimono Fashion Industry 32 nishikawa Sukenobu, women looking at kosode pattern books, frontispiece of ‘nishikawa’s Book of Patterns’ (Nishikawa hinagata, 1718), vol. i, woodblock-printed book, ink and colour on paper. 33 nishikawa Sukenobu, couple designing kosode patterns, two-page frontispiece from ‘nishikawa’s Book of Patterns’, vol. iv, woodblock-printed book, ink and colour on paper. 34 Interior of a dye house or kimono shop, two-page frontispiece from ‘Book of Custom-made Kimono Designs’ or ‘Pattern Book for order Selections’ (Chūmon no hinagata, 1716), preface by Imura Katsukichi (‘dyer artist’, somemono eshi), vol. i, woodblock-printed book, ink on paper.
  • 39. 52 or by established painters such as hishikawa Moronobu or nishikawa Sukenobu enhanced the cultural and social value of the kimonos made from those patterns beyond that of their original function. Designing and Desiring Fashionable Attire Information about the latest trends in colours, designs and obi-tying styles was disseminated through woodblock prints and kimono pattern books that also served as fashion magazines.45 is raises the question of the relationship, if any, between the publishers of kimono pattern books and publishers of single-sheet prints depicting the leading actors and courtesans of the day, who many argue were the trendsetters of their time. e textile and dye specialist Monica Bethe theorized that fashion leaders, woodblock prints, kimono pattern books and the textile industry might have interacted in the following way: [A] well-known actor would commission from one of the dye houses a new shade or hue. (new designs were often taken up as well.) his appearance in the new color would create a stir among theatergoers of Edo and osaka (where the Kabuki houses were located). Ukiyo-e print makers would further popularize the color by their faithful representa- tions of the theatrical idol in costume. With luck, the color would catch on, to become not only the actor’s trademark but also a fad among the general public. Fad status assured the color a place in the hiinagata design books, and this, of course, would popularize it even further. young women, particularly of the merchant class, were the most avid imitators of theatrical fashions, including fashions in color, but the military class and imperial court followed their lead . . .46 The most celebrated illustration of Bethe’s thesis is the popularization of a tea-brown colour with undertones of black and red that became all the rage after the onnagata actor (female impersonator) Segawa Kikunojō ii (1741–1772) wore it on the Kabuki stage (illus. 35).47 Segawa Kikunojō ii, also known as rokō, was a particularly popular eighteenth-century onnagata, and the name rokō came to be used as a brand name for various products.48 The dye colour came to be called Rokō-cha, Rokō being the pen name adopted by Segawa Kikunojō for the publication of his haikus and cha designating a tea-brown colour.49 This colour was so popular that a sample was included in the ‘reference Manual of Model Designs’ (Tekagami moyō setsuyō, 1793).50 kimono
  • 40. 53 At least one pattern book appears to have served the dual function of promoting the various actors themselves and advertising the garments they wore. Textile dyers, pattern book publishers, actors and Kabuki houses may have collaborated in their efforts to establish and stimulate fashionable trends. e kimono pattern book ‘Blossoms of the year’ (Toshi no hana, 1691) depicts an actor of the Kamigata region on one page, while the facing page features the back view of the garment worn by the actor, information on its dyeing techniques and colours, and the actor’s crests.51 is pattern book functioned as a form of advertising for the Kabuki theatres as well as the textile and pub- lishing industries. It is not clear, however, who under- wrote the cost of producing the books or their impact on fashion trends. Kimono pattern books are often evaluated in conjunction with another genre of publication targeted at a female audience: women’s etiquette manuals. ese publications often address two separate components: dress and behaviour. however, kimono pattern books and women’s etiquette manuals worked in tandem to explain the role of clothing in women’s deportment. e women’s manual ‘Collection of rules of Etiquette for Women’ (Onna shorei shū) was published around the time of the earliest pattern books. Pattern books served the dual function of illustrating the latest styles and instructing people on how to select garments appropriate to their status.52 When the ‘Pattern Book of a Collection of Ten ousand Women’ (O-hiinagata man’nyoshū, circa 1673–84) was issued, the publisher deliberately included models wearing kimonos. e preface states: Since the time kosode designs were first produced as small-scale drawings called hinagata, kosode moyō hinagatabon have spread throughout society. In recent years, however, there have been many kosode made from these design books that were not flattering or suitable to the people who were to wear them, because of their age or appearance. Accordingly, in this publica- tion we have included a drawing of a particular woman wearing kosode, so that the customer can choose one that suits her own appearance.53 The Foundations of a Kimono Fashion Industry 35 Torii Kiyomitsu i, ‘e Actor Segawa Kikunojō ii as okiku’, 1759, polychrome woodblock print, ink and colour on paper.
  • 41. 36 nishikawa Sukenobu, ‘courtesan style’ (keisei-fū) kosode, page from ‘Patterns of the Shōtoku Era’ pattern book (Shōtoku hinagata, 1713), woodblock-printed book, ink on paper. 54 e gradual shift in economic power from the samurai class to the newly affluent merchant class resulted in major changes in the relationship between producer and consumer.54 Within the textile industry, there was a shift towards the production of standard types of kimonos for the general populace, rather than one-of-a-kind gar- ments for elite clientele in Kyoto and Edo. e pattern books conveyed information to the customer about prevailing fashion trends, from which the customer could choose a favourite pattern. e excerpt quoted above from the ‘Collection of Ten ousand Women’ suggests that one poten- tial drawback of ordering directly from a pattern book was the risk that a garment might not be appropriate for the wearer. By the late seventeenth century, pat- tern books also conveyed information about the styles suitable for a customer’s age and status. e pattern book ‘Patterns of the Shōtoku Era’ (Shōtoku hinagata, 1713) is divided into sections based on styles appro- priate to particular types of clientele (illus 36).55 Designs were labelled with such descriptions as ‘palace style’, ‘mansion style’, ‘castle-toppler style’ (a euphemism for a high-class courtesan), ‘bathhouse maiden style’, ‘young male (wakashu) style’ and ‘actor’s style’, followed by fitting designs for each of these types. A garment’s construction, colours, composition and applied decorative motifs signalled the gender, occupation and status of the wearer, at least to viewers cognizant of sartorial codes. Pattern books then, like fashion magazines today, functioned as barom- eters by which to gauge shifts among the fashion leaders of the time. e use of clothing to blur or camouflage social distinctions caused one writer to lament: The vogue for crested, plain, or striped kosode imitates the dress of prostitutes. In the past, women of society wore glittering kosode, such as those decorated with embroidery and thin gold leaf, and prostitutes [yūjo] wore plain or striped garments in order to distinguish them from other women. e same was true of obi – ordinary women of fashionable society wore narrow obi, and prostitutes’ obi were very wide, so that one kimono
  • 42. 55 could tell which was which. But today women of the world imitate prostitutes and put on plain or striped kosode with wide obi. is is mere imitation and indicates no discernment whatsoever.56 By increasing their visibility, the reproduction and circulation of images of people wearing a particular design popularized the most desirable clothes available in the urban centres. By conflating consumption and desire, kimono pattern books enhanced product visibility and allowed consumers with dispos- able income to entertain the idea of owning a garment that others might covet. Kimono pattern books might be viewed as mere records of garments available in the market at a given moment in history. If, however, kimono pattern books are considered a ‘representation employed for the purpose of stimulating desire’, as David Pollack suggests, it is possible to envision how the textile and publishing industries collaborated to set and stimulate fashion trends, thereby increasing the desire for new kimonos, pattern books and single- sheet prints depicting popular courtesans and actors modelling the most novel designs, colours and fabrics.57 (While it is unclear if textile sellers underwrote the production costs of prints that featured their establishments, or if the textile makers whose products were promoted contributed to the production of prints such as utamaro’s ‘Contemporary Beauties’ series, everyone potentially bene- fited from the promotion.58) e cult of celebrity and the proclivity for cross-promotion initiated in the Edo period through product endorsements by entertainers established precedents for modern marketing strategies widely used to this day. Pattern books link the textile and publishing industries in the larger matrix of the sophisticated fashion system already operating in late seventeenth-century Japan. The Foundations of a Kimono Fashion Industry
  • 43. 56 two Mo d E r n I z I n g t h E KI M o n o If we look at contemporary Western women’s wear, we find that it combines a top or jacket and a skirt in the manner of our ancient Japanese system of dress. is is not only suitable for the formal standing bow but is also convenient for action and movement and makes it only natural to adopt the Western method of sewing. In carrying out this improvement, however, be especially careful to use materials made in our own country. If we make good use of our domestic products, we will assist in the improvement of techniques of manufacture on the one hand, and will also aid the advancement of art and cause business to flourish. us the benefits of this project will reach beyond the limits of the clothing industry. In changing from the old to the new, it is very difficult to avoid wasteful expenditures, but we can certainly achieve our goal if everyone, according to their abilities, makes a special effort to lead a frugal life. ese are my aspirations for the reform of women’s costume. Chōya shinbun (17 January 1887)1 F rom the opening of Japan’s ports to expanded international trade in the mid-1850s through to the 1890s, a wave of imported materials, technologies and designs infiltrated Japan’s shores. Empress Shōken’s imperial memorandum of 1887, quoted above and circulated in the Chōya newspaper, exhorted her female compatriots to adopt Western-style fashion, with the caveat that they support domestic manufacturers.2 is reveals the rising tensions faced daily by women of means who were able to choose from the myriad Western and Japanese modes of dress available to them (illus. 37).3 e empress’s exhortation implies that many Japanese women continued to favour their native dress over imported bustles, corsets and boots. But her sentiment also reflects recognition of the importance of the domestic textile industry and the value of its products as a means to raise the foreign capital necessary to fuel Japan’s efforts to modernize. As documented by woodblock-printed images and photographs, the empress tended to wear Japanese dress in the first few decades of her husband’s reign from 1868 to 1886. She continued to wear Japanese-style clothing
  • 44. 57 even after the Emperor Meiji appeared in Western-style uniforms in 1872.4 From about 1887, however, the empress favoured Western-style dresses over kimonos, even when her subjects continued to wear their native dress (illus. 38, 39, 40).5 While it is unclear what impact the empress may have had as a trendsetter for the average Japanese woman, her circle of influence certainly extended to female members of the imperial family, her attendants and the wives of government officials, particularly those who made public appearances with their husbands at government-sponsored events.6 An early twentieth- century kimono owned by a daughter of Prince Arisugawa, who married into the tokugawa family, provides evidence of the continued appreciation of the kimono, even among elite women who had been encouraged to adopt Western-style dress (illus. 41). As continues to be true today, the selection of appropriate garments in Japan was dictated by time, place and occasion. e epoch from 1884 to 1889, commonly referred to as the rokumeikan (‘deer Cry Pavilion’) era, represents the nadir of Japanese dress among the elite (illus. 42). Proving Japan to be equal to Western nations became a priority for the country in its efforts to revise the ‘unequal treaties’. ese had been negotiated by the United States Consul to Japan townsend harris (1804–1878) as a result of Commodore Perry’s visit. e rokumeikan building, designed by the British architect Josiah Conder (1852–1920), sym- bolized the aspirations of the Japanese elite to be seen as equal to their British, European and American counterparts. e two-storey brick building – a pas- tiche of Western-style architectural elements ranging from Italian renaissance Modernizing the Kimono 37 Yōshū (toyohara) Chikanobu, sewing of Western clothes for high- ranking ladies (Empress Shōken promoting Western modes of dress), 1887, triptych of polychrome woodblock prints, ink and colour on paper.
  • 45. 38, 39 Empress Shōken’s ceremonial dress, and detail, late 19th–early 20th century, roses woven and embroidered with various grades of wrapped gold thread and sequins on silk satin.
  • 46. 59 to American Victorian – was the site of gala celebrations.7 Japanese men appeared in Western-style regalia and Japanese women wore luxurious ball gowns, although women continued to wear kimonos for less formal events. While woodblock prints and photographs record some of the most visible personages of the period in Western-style dress, much of the Japanese population not featured in prints and photographs still wore kimonos. When the Meiji government was formed in 1868, the social hierarchy based on the four-tiered class system of samurai, farmer, artisan and merchant Modernizing the Kimono 40 nakajima Ishimatsu, ‘ Likenesses of their Imperial highnesses’ (Teikoku shison no on-kage), 1896, colour lithograph, ink and colour with gold on paper.
  • 47. 61 of the previous Edo era gave way to a comparatively more egalitarian social system. e new government aimed to abolish class distinctions. In reality, distinctions between elite and commoner persisted through the nineteenth century, and dress was the most visible manifestation of the new social hierarchy. When Emperor Meiji, revered as the physical embodiment of the Japanese nation, first donned Western-style clothing for formal occasions, his act publicly symbolized Japan’s willingness to shed traditional modes of dress in favour of Western fashions and its desire to take its place as an equal on the world stage. Considering that only a decade earlier Japanese government personnel sent to Washington to ratify the harris treaty wore full Japanese-style regalia, the change must have startled the average Japanese subject. Japan’s encounter with Western powers was coupled with the donning of Western dress in the highest echelons of Japanese society. government and military officials followed the emperor’s lead and adopted Western-style suits and uniforms in 1872. For the proclamation of the Constitution of the great Empire of Japan in 1889, the emperor and his entourage appeared in Western-style uniforms or formal regalia, and the empress, too, wore a Western-style gown with a long train (illus. 43). By contrast, the emperor had appeared on an earlier occasion in the inner sanctuaries of the palace to perform a ceremony promulgating new laws in ancient Japanese-style court dress.8 Western-style uniforms were the dress of choice for the military, police and students at select schools. Members of the imperial court and bureaucrats Modernizing the Kimono 41 Woman’s long-sleeved kimono (furisode) with flowing water and Western autumn flowers and plants design, previously owned by Mieko, second daughter of Prince takehito Arisugawa, c. 1908, paste-resist dyeing on silk. 42 Yōshū Chikanobu, ‘Illustration of the Ladies’ Charity Bazaar at the rokumeikan’ (Rokumeikan ni oite kifujin jizenkai no zu), 1887, triptych of polychrome woodblock prints, ink and colour on paper.
  • 48. 43 Yōshū Chikanobu, ‘Ceremony of the Issuance of the Constitution’, 1889, triptych of polychrome woodblock prints, ink and colour on paper. 62 opted for Western-style suits and accessories as civilian clothing. Men engaged in commerce or working as labourers still wore Japanese-style dress. In the comfort of their homes, most men opted for Japanese-style dress, usually a simple under-kimono, or nagajuban (illus. 44, 45). e genesis of ideals associating Western clothing with a modernized West and the kimono with a traditional Japan are rooted in this era. At the time of their initial exposure to Western-style dress, the Japanese felt they were in an inferior position. Accordingly, the major incentive for the Japanese to adopt Western-style dress was to appear more like members of other nations – nations they feared would try to dominate them. While there were documented cases of ‘the conscious rejection of outright imitation [of Western models] and the pursuit of indigenous rationality’, cosmopolitan fashions incorporating Western and Japanese clothing items and elements are heavily documented in a range of visual media from this era.9 Individuals attempted to appear simultaneously ‘modern’ and ‘Japanese’. As time progressed, however, the perception of Western-as-modern versus Japanese-as-traditional was further fragmented into gendered spheres in which males, as agents of progress, gener- ally wore modern, Western-style dress in public appearances.10 Kimono-clad females emerged as symbols of cultural continuity and the preservers of the nation’s sartorial heritage.11 is phenomenon supports the long-standing observation that women in many rapidly changing societies often ‘become the repositories of “traditional” values imputed to them by men’.12 Within Japan, a separate mythologizing process associated modernity with the urban sphere and positioned the rural countryside as ‘traditional’. kimono
  • 49. 63 In 1872, the Japanese nation itself received new garb for its growing national psyche in the form of a national flag bearing the gold chrysanthemum emblazoned on a red background.13 e flag symbolized the coalition of a confederation of feudal domains into a single political entity. e increased speed of communication and transportation of the modern era facilitated the government’s ability to cultivate an extensive cultural awareness of new trends on a national scale. Although Japan was unified under the tokugawa rulers in the early seventeenth century, it was not until the early Meiji era that Japan perceived itself as a nation state on the order of Western countries.14 Existing in relative isolation for almost two and a half centuries, Japan emerged on the international stage in the late nineteenth century. Like the new flag, the kimono was one of the nation’s most visible symbols. Fibres, Filaments and Fabrics e materials and technology available at the moment of production dictate the weaving, dyeing and decorative techniques available to the textile artisan. Japan’s encounter with the West beginning in the mid-nineteenth century deeply affected the materials, production techniques and value of worn objects. A list of gifts presented by Japanese officials to the government of the United States and Commodore Perry’s entourage in March 1854 reveals that textiles were one of Japan’s prized products.15 Various types of fabrics, in addition to lacquer, bamboo and porcelain objects, were included in this diplomatic exchange. Perry, however, regarded the lot as ‘of little value’.16 Perhaps the ‘value’ to which Perry referred was conceived in strictly material, rather than symbolic terms.17 e only textile objects among the Americans’ gifts to the Japanese, consisting principally of books, arms, libations, perfume, clocks and tools, were a ‘flowered silk embroidered dress’ for the empress, and bolts of ‘scarlet broadcloth’ and ‘scarlet velvet’ for the emperor.18 Woollens and velvet brought as gifts by Perry’s expedition or obtained cheaply in the United States by the Japanese mission were valued commodities in 1860s Japan. When the Japanese mission visited Washington in 1860, one of the chroniclers lamented that most officers are wasting their days in the city trying to buy watches and woolen material and velvet, and none are interested in discovering the institutions and conditions of America. People are purchasing things by twos and threes, even by fours and fives, so that they can sell them upon return home. ey dash around looking for the cheapest store. how disgraceful it is!19 Modernizing the Kimono
  • 50. 44, 45 Man’s informal garment or under-kimono (nagajuban) with design of the irty-six Immortal Poets, and detail, early 20th century, stencilled paste-resist dyeing on silk.
  • 51. 66 While woollen materials and velvets were prized in Japan for their nov- elty at this early stage of Japan’s exposure to Western material goods, Japan’s sericulture and silk-reeling industries quickly attained international acclaim. e pébrine disease that attacked the silkworms of France and Italy and devas- tated their silk-producing industries in the mid-1850s put inordinate pressure on Japanese and Chinese silk producers to fill the increased demand from Europe.20 Silkworm breeding practices, and later silk-reeling technology in Japan, contributed to a robust domestic industry. Supported by both the government and private sector, Japanese silk exports skyrocketed, and Japan became the world’s leading exporter of silk by 1912 (illus. 46).21 Foreign capital obtained from silk and cotton exports supplied much-needed funds to finance the modernization of Japan. Much of the labour that produced these textile exports was performed by women. Prior to the establishment of a thriving domestic sericulture industry, Japan was once dependent on superior raw and finished silk imports from China. Many of the extant sixteenth-century silk garments of the elite were fabricated from imported Chinese silk that was ranked as being of the highest quality available at the time (see illus. 9). In 1685, however, the tokugawa government restricted imports of raw silk from China. Kyoto weavers turned to domestic silk producers for import substitutes, stimulating the development of Japan’s independent sericulture industry. By the mid-eighteenth century, the nishijin area of Kyoto, the established centre of the silk-weaving industry, relinquished some of its dominance to regional areas such as gifu, hachiōji, Isezaki, Kiryū, nagahama and tango.22 Japan’s import-substitute strategy for Chinese raw and woven silk over the course of the seventeenth century proved prescient. Some of these regional areas – in particular, hachiōji near tokyo, Isezaki and Kiryū in present-day gunma prefecture, and towns such as Suwa, okaya and nagano in present-day nagano prefec- ture to the west of gunma – continued to provide silks for the burgeoning domestic and international markets during the Meiji era.23 kimono 46 Yōshū Chikanobu, beautiful woman with a towel, calendar print for April 1910 targeted at the export market, 1909, poly- chrome woodblock print, ink and colour on paper.
  • 52. 67 International demand for healthy silkworm eggs and reeled silk caused some regions, such as the lower Ina valley (Shimoina, in present-day nagano prefecture), to shift from producing by-products such as silk and lacquerware for local and domestic consumption to sericulture, reeled silk and related enterprises for overseas markets made accessible through ports newly opened to foreign trade, such as Yokohama in 1859.24 In some cases, land previously designated for rice cultivation was converted to production of the more lucra- tive crop of mulberry leaves, needed to feed silkworms. e previously diverse Shimoina economy became more and more dependent on a single industry, silk, servicing distant markets. is economy suffered as the international (particularly American) demand for silk subsided by the 1930s.25 Japanese-bred silkworms proved relatively resistant to the pébrine disease that plagued the French and Italian sericulture industries, and led to the export of Japanese silkworms to the European market.26 For a time, French and Italian silk manufacturers relied on Chinese exports re-exported via England, but the French in particular found it more lucrative and less threatening to circumvent England and deal directly with China and Japan.27 during the period of greatest European demand for Japanese raw silk, Japan’s silk-reeling industry depended on hand-reeling, producing an irregular, uneven product when compared to French and Italian silk. to remedy this situation, silk weavers in Lyon experimented with combining silk with other fibres, such as cotton and wool, in order to stretch their dwindling silk supplies. e Europeans, however, quickly recognized the need to modernize silk-reeling techniques in Japan to meet their need for a uniform standard. technology transfer and direct foreign investment in Japan’s sericulture and silk-reeling industries in turn benefited Europe’s silk industries.28 In the United States from the 1850s to the 1900s, silk manufacturing technologies, particularly the widespread use of the power loom, created additional markets for Japan’s raw silk exports. Moreover, an increased market demand in the United States for inexpensive, lightweight, finished silk goods, woven on hand looms in Japan, expanded the market for finished Japanese silk goods. From 1870 to 1900, u.s. raw silk imports increased tenfold, much of it supplied by China and Japan. Japan would become one of the largest exporters of raw silk to the United States, supplying more than 70 per cent of the raw silk imported into the United States in 1916.29 Japan’s dominance of the raw silk industry in the early twentieth century was aided by coupling ‘modern genetic science with Japan’s strong indigenous tradition of biological innovation in sericulture [that] resulted in the discovery of the Fı hybrid silkworm’.30 e Fı hybrid silkworm not only standardized the variety, thereby ensuring uniform output contributing to ease of reeling, but also increased productivity allowing Japanese farmers to offer high-quality Modernizing the Kimono
  • 53. 47 Pouch with design of birds and flowers, 18th century, printed colours and gold on cotton. 68 cocoons at a lower cost than their Italian and Chinese competitors. ‘By the 1920s and 1930s, the apex of kimono production in Japan, the domestic silk-reeling industry was among the most technologically advanced in the world.’31 With the invention of rayon, chemical advances in synthetic fibre production would eventually triumph over Japan’s dominant position in silk manufacturing. While the Japanese silk industry captiv- ated the European and American markets, the Japanese cotton industry exported to its Asian neighbours: Korea and China.32 is was a marked reversal of previous trends. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, cotton was still a rare commodity in Japan, and as such was highly prized. Prior to domestic cultivation in Japan, cotton was imported from China, probably from as early as the thirteenth century, and from Korea in the fifteenth century. As a novelty cloth, cotton initially ranked as a luxury item. Many of the cloth bags (shifuku) prized by tea connoisseurs to protect their treasured tea caddies were made from imported cotton. Colourful cotton Indian calicoes and chintz fabrics captivated the Japanese imagination, and were trans- formed into tobacco pouches (illus. 47). But as Japan’s nascent cotton industry took root and expanded throughout the seventeenth century, cotton shed its elite status and eventually found its way onto the backs of commoners. Warmer, cheaper and more flexible than the rougher bast fibre cloth in use at the time, cotton became the fibre of choice for supplying local needs, and eventually demand increased outside the regions where temperate climates and longer growing seasons provided conditions conducive to cotton cultivation. Cotton in its variant forms – as seed cotton, yarn and woven cloth – became an important commodity during the Edo period. As William hauser points out in his study of the cotton trade, ‘marketing patterns shifted from small-scale local marketing units to a focus on major urban centres and finally to a national system of commodity distribution with both urban and rural foci of marketing activity.’33 Cotton cultivation in Japan began around the second kimono

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