Girl’s Omiyamairi (kimono for presentation to the temple); eight views of Omi
Padded silk
Hand painted surface and lining in sumi, dyes and pigments; rice paste resist

This girl’s omiyamairi (kimono for infant’s first shrine presentation) depicts a well known design motif: the traditional eight views of Omi (present day Lake Biwa). The three most dramatic views are painted on the back, the side most visible to observers. They are the autumn moon on Ishiyama Temple at center back, the evening snow on Mt. Hira on the left sleeve, and the night rain on Karasaki on the right sleeve. The delicate and detailed painting continues not only to the front of the kimono and the elegant padded hem, but to the interior lining of the skirt. There it would have been seen by very few people, and so was a luxurious extra touch. This would have been worn by the new daughter of a wealthy family.

The sleeve on the left side of this photo depicts Miidera (Mii Temple), and the sleeve on the right side depicts the returning boats at Yabase.

This kimono style, with its pale background color, dark-to-light, top-to-bottom shading and realistic designs primarily in sumi concentrated at the base of the material, was very popular close to the turn of the 20th century for both adults and children.

Detail, late 20th century scarf
Highly twisted cotton thread
by Junichi Arai

Okinawan kimono
Probably bashofu (banana fiber)
Warp kasuri

Yogi (padded bed covering)
Handspun cotton, indigo
Rice paste resist, stencils

Design of mythical baku. Baku were said to eat bad dreams, making them appropriate designs for yogi.

Baby kimono
Silk, padded; probably safflower dye
Itajimezome (board clamp resist)

Shibori Yukata
Multiple shibori techniques

Rice Bag (Komebukuro), for a donation or gift of rice
Silk chirimen
Appliqued, hand painted

Stenciled warps and wefts (meisen)

It is interesting to compare this kimono to a woodcut on paper, Circle, dated 1933, by Josef Albers, a leading figure in the Bauhaus movement.

Circle 1933 by Josef Albers 1888-1976

Maiwai (Ceremonial fisherman’s coat)
Rice paste resist (tsutsugaki), stencils, hand painted

A maiwai very similar to this one is in the collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and was published in Reiko Mochinaga Brandon’s excellent book, Country Textiles of Japan (1986, Weatherhill), in conjunction with an exhibition. Brandon’s text for the maiwai reads, in part:

The maiwai was a special ceremonial outer kimono, or jacket, that fishermen of the Boso Peninsula (south of Tokyo) wore to inaugurate the New Year or to celebrate a rich catch… [On this maiwai, three dancer-musicians celebrate a big catch by performing what is probably the Kashima Dance, an auspicious folk dance of the Kanto area… The central figure carries a large Shinto offering of paper in his right hand while he dances. A fan, in his left hand, has written on it in large red characters “Great Catch” (tairyo)…

Child’s kimono for a special occasion with design of prawns
Stenciled warps and wefts (meisen)

This is not a traditional motif for a either a child’s or an adult’s kimono. Possibly it was originally a juban (under kimono) whose usable parts were salvaged and made into a child’s kimono when it could no longer be worn as a juban. The large and dramatic design seems to place this piece in the Taisho or early Showa periods.

Prawns are associated with long life in Japan. Their rounded backs were reminiscent of the backs of the elderly at a time when few people lived to old age. So strong is this connection that the Japanese character for prawn literally reads ‘old man of the sea’. Because they are symbolic of longevity, prawns are among the dishes comprising osechi ryori – foods traditionally eaten at new year’s to start the year off in an auspicious manner.