THE ART OF KIMONO

I walk in Kyoto, my eyes dazzled by explosions of colors and varied patterns wandering in front of me. The Kimonos are out. Obi (belt) attached in pretty knots, Zôri and Tabi (traditional sandals and white socks up to the ankles) and elegant chignons. Cell phones and small handbags. Mix of tradition and modernity.

Ancestral practice from China, the port of Kimonos is very codified and today only worn on special occasions. Women wear very colorful clothes while men are more formal.

In the middle of all of these gorgeous costumes, some are even more impressive. Geiko (confirmed geishas) and Maiko (apprentices) attract everybody’s eyes. The majesty of their kimono and makeup associated with their status, fascinate. In a temple, two girls dressed in a beautiful red kimono draw my eye. They wear a brocarded uchiki (kind of long coat) with a tsubo ori (wide straw hat around which hangs a long transparent veil allowing to remain anonymous).

On this morning of April, a torrential rain falls on Kyoto. This is my third day visiting the “City of Traditions”. During these days, I saw more temples and kimonos than in the space of five months. It is dazzling. And the rain does not prevent the wearing of the kimono. To the ensemble is added a new accessory: the umbrella. Traditional, transparent or colorful for even more style.

Walking in Kyoto is walking in the past and in aesthetics. Each kimono is a work of art, a vestige of Japanese traditions. Although deeply rooted in culture, the wearing of the kimono is disappearing. Fewer and fewer Japanese have real kimonos and its use is increasingly limited.