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着物

Kimono

Japanese traditional garments are called kimono (wafuku). In contemporary Japanese society, kimono are rarely worn as regular clothing. However, on ceremonial occasions such as coming of age, marriages, and funerals, people (mainly women) frequently wear kimono.

Mitsukoshi is currently known as a department store, but it originated as a draper’s shop. In the present as in the past, kimono are invariably among the most important of Mitsukoshi products. Even today, the store sells a high volume of kimono goods, devoting extensive space to kimono marketing. In fact, VIPs including ambassadors from many nations often visit here to purchase kimono.

Typically, kimono are produced on the basis of individual orders. A customer chooses tan-mono (fabric that is the main material of wafuku) in his or her favorite colors using pictured patterns. Then, this fabric is hand-stitched to create a complete kimono that perfectly fits the individual wearer. Moreover, production of tan-mono itself is a traditional craft. Mitsukoshi kimono salon features many famous varieties of dyed cloth including Yuuki-tsumugi, Kiryu-ori, Kaga-yuzen, Nishijin-ori, Kurume-gasuri, and others from all around Japan.

Edo-komon kimono are distinguished by more than 200 crest-type picture patterns, so minute in detail that you have to look hard to discern the differences. Komiya Senshoku Kojo (Komiya Dye Factory) is a leading company in this industry. The entire fabric-making process — including kata-tsuke (pattern stamping using paper templates and glue), ji-zome (background dyeing), mushi (steaming), mizumoto (washing), etc. — takes immense time and effort and is dependent on expert craftsmanship, keen intuition, and trial-and-error repetition. This is the true artistic production made possible by meticulous handiwork.

Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi main store provides not only a full-fledged salon offering traditional custom-made kimono, but also a section called Hanamusubi — New Kimono Shop, where you can now purchase kimono like selecting clothes for everyday wear. The shop explains that this can help more people enjoy wearing kimono while maintaining its traditions. Visit Mitsukoshi to see the changing world of kimono.

Locations: Edokomon Komiya • Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi

A scene from the Edo-komon kimono work process. Undyed cloth is spread out and affixed to a seven-meter-long katatsuke-ita (patterning board).

Humidifiers are purposefully placed to control humidity inside the atelier.

Shibu-kami — consisting of two to four layers of washi with persimmon tannin (kakishibu) — is used for Edo-komon pattern templates. Minute decorative patterns characteristic of Edo-komon are carved on these templates.

The beauty of these miniature picture patterns emerges in the light.

Glue is added over the pattern template with delicately controlled pressure.

Katatsuke (patterning) process is handled by one craftsman. To maintain complete silence, other persons are prohibited from entering the atelier. Absolute concentration is required for creating minute details of Edo-komon.

Note the pattern paper with glue (at left). Decorative patterns emerge after removal of the pattern template (at right).

Note the pattern paper with glue (at left). Decorative patterns emerge after removal of the pattern template (at right).

A short pattern template is repeatedly used about 70 to 100 times in applying glue to 13-meter-long tan-mono (kimono fabric). Connecting all parts of the pattern is crucially important. The craftsmen align the template perfectly with the pattern pictures, working with painstaking care on a miniscule scale.

Nearly finished Edo-komon fabric. Background dyeing is done with dyeing glue after the katatsuke (patterning) process. When the glue is washed away, the picture emerges. Details are so minute that you hardly notice them. The history of Edo-komon dates back to the Muromachi period, but pictures of these minute patterns were completed during the Edo era. An official of that time ordered the common people to abstain from wearing ornate clothing. In response to this order, samurai and affluent merchants adopted clothing with almost “invisible” decorations. At a glace, these appear like ordinary monotone colors, concealing the interest of wearers in the superb artistry of these minute crest patterns.

The kimono section has been open continuously since the Edo period.

Diverse selections of tan-mono (kimono fabric) with varieties of decorations

At Hanamusubi — New Kimono Shop, anyone can casually try on complete kimono in a fitting room.

Obi-dome (obi holder) is a small buckle-type accessory that adds an accent and character to kimono.

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