Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
The kimono, the national garment of Japan, has been worn by emperors and samurai, Buddhist monks and geishas, the rich and the poor.
Now, in preparation for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics Games, through its KIMONO Project, Japan has created 213 handmade kimonos inspired by each participating country’s culture, history, and scenery.
Valued at 1 million yen each – $9,000 – the handmade kimonos are each made by leading kimono artists using traditional handwoven and dyeing techniques.
Whether for everyday activities or to celebrate a wedding, formal occasion, festival – or even the Olympics – kimonos, with their different patterns and designs, are woven into the fabric of Japanese life.
A quintessential part of Japanese culture, the kimono was introduced into Japan’s Imperial Court by envoys from China’s Tang Dynasty during the Kofun period (300-538 AD).
Over the following years the original Chinese designs were supplanted by Japanese motifs often representing nature and the seasons. Made from the richest silks and finest cottons, kimonos are known for their deep colors and intricate patterns.
One of the most popular motifs is the Three Friends of Winter pattern depicting images of pines, plums. and bamboo – plants that do not wither in the harsh winter days. The pattern represents prosperity.
Kimonos with cherry blossom motifs are often worn just before Japan’s famous cherry blossoms bloom in the spring. But, only until the blossoms start to bloom because it’s considered unlucky to try to compete with the real blossoms.
Depending on the fabric and method of construction, kimonos can range in price from a modest amount to upward of $50,000.
Among the most beautiful kimonos are those made by Chiso, the iconic Kyoto kimono house established in 1555 that created the KIMONO Project Olympics kimono representing Japan. Chiso’s hand-crafted kimonos can take up to eighteen months to make and involve a production process of 20 to 25 steps.
Wrapping the wearer in folds of timeless fashion, the kimono truly is Japan’s wearable art…and the perfect showcase for the beauty and strength of the Olympics Games – games that for the first time will include surfing, which, like the kimono, has a long and storied tradition.
Let the games begin!
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