Representative of Ltd. Komiya Dyeing Factory. By learning the secrets and skills of his grandfather (Kōsuke) and father (Yasutaka) who were both designated as Living National Treasures (Preservers of Important Intangible Cultural Properties), Yasumasa aims to carry on the Edo Komon technique. Edo Komon“Kikugōshi” (chrysanthemum lattice) by Komiya Yasutaka (1985),maintained under the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

Edo Komon (fine patterns) is a one-colour dyeing technique based on the Kamishimo Komon style of the Edo Period. Edo Komon was originally used to decorate the samurai ceremonial costumes of feudal lords, who began competing to create the most beautiful outfits. To avoid the government’s sumptuary regulations artisans begun to create very small, intricate patterns which would appear plain from a distance, and as a result the dyeing technique became very complicated.

Traditionally the technique involved paper stencils from the Ise area (Ise pattern papers). Today a lack of a new generation of stencil makers is an even greater problem than a lack of dyer successors for Edo Komon.


CEO of Takeda Kahe Shoten. The Takeda Kahe Shoten was established in 1608 when Takeda Shōkurō founded Arimatsu Shibori.

The town of Arimatsu became famous for shibori (tie-dye) in the early Edo period. Travellers passing through eagerly sought to buy the shibori Tenugui (Japanese hand towels), Yukata and other products as souvenirs, making the products the most famous local specialty on the Tōkaidō feudal highway. The Owari clan protected Arimatsu Shibori as a special product of their region, appointing Takeda Shōkurō to be a Goyō-Shōnin (chartered merchant).

This prosperity was captured on the Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) of famous printing artists Hokusai and Hiroshige, and the Narumi-juku is a depiction of Arimatsu showing the special Arimatsu Shibori technique. The streetscape is a precious cultural property and is over 200 years old.


The CEO of Nagao Orifu Corp, founded in 1897. The company acquired the trademark registration of Awa Kazuji Shiji-ori it is also one of the most prominent Awa indigo dyers.

Kaga Yuzen is a painterly style featuring realistic flowers and flower patterns. The centrepiece of the craft is the Kaga Yuzen Sakka (artist). Using the kimono as a canvas, the elaborate design is created from one grand picture, delicately transferred to the white cloth with a fine brush. Outstanding ability with the brush is needed to create the colour and gradation that brings life into the pattern

The history of Kaga Yuzen began with “plum dyeing,” a type of plain dye originating in the Kaga area about 500 years ago. Kyoto’s popular fan artist Yuzensai Miyazaki stayed at Taro Taya, the top dyer for the Kanazawa government, and created original designs of pattern dye one after another. His outstanding work contributed to the development of Kaga Yuzen, establishing the Yuzen glue technique, for example.

In contrast to Kyo Yuzen, Kaga Yuzen uses only five colours: dark red, indigo, ocher, green and ancient purple. The lines express the beauty of hand drawing.


Acknowledged as a National Designated Traditional Craftsman in 1988, Ryozo is one of three living manufacturers of Ojiya Chijimi. His awards include the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Silver Rays (traditional crafts industrial contributor) in 2013.

Ojiya Chijimi is a textile originating in the area around Ojiya city in the Niigata Prefecture. The breathability of the light, cool fabric makes it ideal for summer. Masatoshi Horijiro, thought to be from Ban-shu Akou is said to have invented the Ojiya Chijimi technique at the beginning of the Edo era. As its extraordinary, uneven texture became highly recognised, Ojiya Chijimi was designated to important intangible cultural asset of the country in 1955.

The raw material is a high quality linen called ramie, which needs to be crushed to make a long thread which is then woven by hand. It takes 900 weaves to make just 30 centimetres of cloth. The fabric is woven with a tightly spun weft thread, creating the distinctive Shibo crease. Woven cloth is washed then the wet fabric is taken outside and placed on the white snow for around 20 days where it will be lightened by the elements.


Founded in 1555, Chiso passes on over 460 years of tradition, making it the most respected store in regard to Kyo Yuzen painted kimonos. Chiso serves as an organiser of the Kyoto Yuzenshi-kai, which possesses the Monchirimen Jinoshimon Yuzen Furisode (Important Cultural Property).

Using yūzen dyeing and weaving techniques originating from the Edo period, a collection of modern craftsmen from Kyoto under the supervision of professor Kawakami Shigeki, a leading scholar of kimono history, spent two years restoring [RECREATING?] the Furisode Kimono with Tabane Noshi Design (Valuable Cultural Property), with its rich Kisshō pattern. The silk threads were made from carefully chosen cocoons. In the Itomenori (threadlike resist paste) rice glue was used. Craftspeople used traditional natural dyes to recreate the crimson and yūzen colours as faithfully as possible.


Representative of Moriyama Kasuri Kobo, founded at the end of the Edo era. An Important Intangible Cultural Property technology holder, Mr. Moriyama is the symbol of the Kurume Kasuri industry in the region. He is the recipient of the Minister of International Trade and Industry Award and Minister of Education Award, among others.

This woven cotton fabric is said to have been originally created by Den Inoue, a 12 year old girl, more than 200 years ago. It spread all over Japan as government forces brought it back to the mainland as a souvenir in the Seinan War (Satsuma Rebellion) during the Meiji era.

After World War Two when suits rather than kimono became mainstream for men, the production drastically shrunk. The Moriyama Kasuri Workshop is now the only place where Kurume Kasuri is still woven by hand. Using natural charcoal, indigo dye made by the fermentation of sake, and bamboo raft, the manufacturer still uses a hand weaving technique with shuttles in the tradition of the Edo era.


The CEO of Nagao Orifu Corp, founded in 1897.

The company acquired the trademark registration of Awa Kazuji Shiji-ori it is also one of the most prominent Awa indigo dyers.

Kyo Yuzen is one of the best-known Japanese dyeing techniques, characterised by multi-coloured painting-style patterns. The ‘Itomenori’ (threadlike resist paste) used along the outline of the pattern protects the fabric underneath from the dye, making it possible to arrange an array of delicate and variegated colours. Yuzen works which require many stages are split among several artists. In this way the skill of each artist can be lavishly demonstrated, and the skills of the artists gathered to complete the work.

This kimono is Fujii Hiroshi’s masterpiece, and it design hearkens back to kosode from the sixteenth Century Momoyama period. It combines Sashi Yuzen, Kyo Yuzen, hand-embroidery and geumbak at the highest levels of artistry, and took over one year to complete. The motif is of Matuskawa patterns, each of which contains detailed representations of the Imperial Four Seasons.


The CEO of Nagao Orifu Corp, founded in 1897.

The company acquired the trademark registration of Awa Kazuji Shiji-ori it is also one of the most prominent Awa indigo dyers.

In the era of Awa’s former lordship Hachisuka, citizens of common class were strictly prohibited to have silk cloth. So that people begun to exercise their ingenuity with woven cotton materials for the beauty of appearance.

Awa shijira-ori was supposedly created by a woven maid called Hana Kaifu from Awa Atake Village. She was inspired by unevenness on a texture shrunk by rain. Then, she studied the texture and soon developed the technique. The characteristic of this technique is that unique unevenness is produced by using the difference in warp tension.

In 1978, “Awa Shouai Shijira-ori” using production area’s indigo received designation from Minister of International Trade and Industry as a national traditional craft.


CEO of Kyōwa Dyeing Factory Co. Ltd, established in 1952. Komatsu Takao has been awarded the traditional craftsman certificate. In 2012 he received recognition from the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare as a Contemporary Craftsman (outstanding technician).

Naniwa Honzome dyed Yukata (a dyeing technique where the dye is poured into a mould placed on the cloth) was born in the Senshu and Kawachi region, a major cotton production area. The development of a special technique called Chūzome in Osaka, in which the Ise Katagami (Ise stencil paper) is glued to the cloth and ink poured on top of it also influenced Naniwa Honzome dyed Yukata. It is becoming well known around Japan as a refreshing looking Yukata, whose colours brighten the summer nights.

These works began with the carving of Ise Katagami (Ise paper stencils), unfortunately nowadays a skill of the past. The works are made entirely by hand using the chūsen dyeing technique (dyeing by pouring), and consist of one Taishō pattern and four Shōwa patterns (of two different types).


Recognised as Nishijin-ori Traditional Craftsman in 1993. Restored the Noh costumes held by the Kanebō Art Museum and the Kanze Noraku school’s Katayama Noh costumes, among others. He works with future artists to ensure the survival of these specialist techniques.

The Nishijin-ori weaving technique is over 550 years old and creates one of Japan’s finest fabrics. The patterns are made by dyed threads, and the process contains over 20 stages, each needing experienced and knowledgable specialist artists. Nishijin-ori is characterised by the entanglement of threads at the surface of the cloth, creating a three-dimensional finish. Master weavers are able to express the perception of depth as if it had been calculated by computer, not woven by hand.




Oshima Tsumugi was given the Grand Prix Governor’s Award in 2015. Kasurijime, Kawaguchi Junya. Weaving by Komoto Setsuko. Muddle Dyeing by Kanai Hitori.

Oshima Tsumugi refers to a Kasuri and striped pattern fabric made with blackish brown yarn. Highly valued because of its special dyeing method and its dignified and elaborate Kasuri pattern, it is an expensive and precious traditional fabric.

The Tatsugo pattern mirrors the beauty of the moment when a pit viper shines its back markings under the moonlight. This work was woven using the rarely used Ichigen Kasuri method, the original weaving method of Oshima Tsumugi. The Tatsugo pattern appears on a mud-dyed plain texture.

Centuries of aesthetic sensibility and exquisite craftsmanship are bound up within the kimono’s elegant folds. The image we have of the kimono is a rather nostalgic one; the garment is viewed as a beautiful vestige of a bygone world which can seem at odds with the modern, technologically advanced nation that is Japan today. While certainly compelling, such an impression does the garment a disservice. Not only does it ignore the kimono’s past as a highly dynamic and fashionable item of dress, but it denies its convincing present and potential future, to which the striking contemporary works explored here stand testament.

With its simple cut and construction, the kimono has been the ideal canvas upon which an incredible range of decorative techniques has flourished. Kimono are dependent on the skills of Japan’s textile artisans, passed down through the ages from generation to generation. At the same time, the kimono industry ensures the survival of these ancient techniques, which could otherwise be at risk of dying out.

An industry so dependent on manual craftsmanship could seem at odds with Japan’s reputation as one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries.

However, textile artistry is a heritage treasured by the nation. Kimonos often become heirlooms, to be handed down through generations, and great efforts are made to help preserve, modernize and advance the traditional techniques. In turn, the rich textile history of Japan laid the foundation for technological advances in the field, positioning Japan at the very forefront of modern yarn and material innovation.

In the fashion world, Japanese designers are modernizing kimono techniques in their own way. Yohji Yamamoto has included hand-painted yuzen in a number of his collections. Issey Miyake pushes textile innovation through yarn and fabric development, while his iconic heat set pleats are reminiscent of compressed shibori fabric.

Japan has an extremely rich textile history. The arts of weaving and dyeing have always played a crucial role in determining the cultural climate of the country and continuing respect for these skills has secured Japan’s pre-eminence in the field of textile production.

The work of the contemporary textiles artists showcased here is not simply about copying and preserving the past, however. Certain fundamental elements may lie at the core of their creative output, but the technology is always developing and the mode of expression constantly changing.

This remarkable group of garments can be displayed, styled and worn in a multitude of ways; they do not simply evoke a romantic past, but have the power to transform the present and inspire the future. Kimono Roboto deftly reconciles what kimono was, is and can be, revealing how this iconic item of dress is able to transcend both temporal and cultural boundaries.

Anna Jackson Keeper, Asian Department, Victoria and Albert Museum

1 - 10TH DECEMBER 2017

11:00 - 21:00

11:00 - 20:00

17:00 - 18:00

11:00 - 16:00

TOKYO 150-0001

ALEXANDRE DE BETAK No item of dress defines a culture so poignantly as kimono defines Japan. This exhibition forms part of an ongoing cultural dialogue around this treasured garment, celebrating its beauty and the remarkable poetry of its historic techniques, whilst re-framing it through the prism of modern technology and contemporary artistic points of view.

A circular mise-en-scène reflects kimono’s trajectory from attire for everyday life in the late 16th century, to its status as a living work of art, and its powerful influence on 21st century fashion and popular culture. Each robe resonates with a deep understanding of its materials, from the quality of the fibres to the nature of the dyes, of the complicated and painstaking processes employed, and even of the elements of the natural environment which can be used to create them.

A garment so dependent on extraordinary manual craftsmanship, and skills passed down through generations, could seem incongruous with Japan’s reputation as one of the most technologically advanced countries. But in this interactive and dynamic setting, with a gilded robot at its centre, we are asked to reflect on technology’s role in the survival of the ancient and endangered artistry on which kimono depends.

Together these works form a tribute to kimono’s complex past, a blueprint for possible futures, and an important record of its power today.

Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones Regarded as two of the industry’s leading artists, du Preez and Thornton Jones began their collaboration in 1998. Their distinctive approach in visual communication and experimentation has resulted in striking and highly original artworks within the worlds of beauty, fashion and music. They have created numerous campaigns, collaborated with UNKLE, Bjork and Massive Attack, and their work has appeared in i-D, Dazed & Confused and the NY Times Magazine.

KOICHIRO DOI One of the foremost international beauty and still life photographers, Koichiro Doi’s work balances serenity and dynamism, minimalism and luxury. He explores the intersection between beauty and technology, always with an element of surprise, and his work has appeared in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Numéro and T Magazine. Working from twin studios in Tokyo and New York, his clients include Kenzo, Cartier and Dior.

Peter Lindbergh Known for his memorable cinematic images, Peter Lindbergh is recognised as one of the most influential contemporary photographers. He introduced a new form of realism, redefining standards of beauty with his timeless images.

Since the late 70s the German born photographer has worked with the most prestigious fashion brands and magazines including international editions of Vogue, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair and his work is part of the permanent collections of many galleries and museums around the world.

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