cocktail kimono Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4937

Silk, cotton (lining)
Stenciled warps and wefts (meisen)

On the website Obsessionistas, Haruko Watanabe, owner of Gallery Tsumugi and dealer in vintage Japanese textiles, is quoted as saying that “meisen kimonos were worn by the women who needed to look beautiful and stand out such as actresses, bar hostesses, women engaged in show business and so on”.   This kimono was almost certainly worn by a bar hostess.  Every design on the kimono reminds the viewer to partake in the pleasures of a 1950s – 1960s bar.  The very western bar accoutrements, as well as the unmistakably western treatment of the designs, served to underscore the sophistication that attached to cocktail culture in Japan at the time.

There is a colorful chip and dip server,

martini meisen - chip n dip bowl  Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4642









a snack bowl, with the popular undulating rim of the period,

martini meisen - wobbly bowl Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4641









A double jigger (left) and an articulated cocktail shaker (right),

martini meisen - double jigger, shaker  Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4640









And the all-important martini, in its distinctively shaped glass, with requisite green olive garnish. The chunky, cartoonish lines reflect the prevailing artistic style of the time.

martini meisen - martini, double jigger Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4637









Interestingly, a closer look at the kimono reveals one additional reference to western cocktail culture: radiating white waves mimic the wood grain wall paneling of the period.

martini meisen - close up  Daily Japanese Textile IMG_4635










This still from Akiro Kurosawa’s 1963 movie High Low demonstrates the role of cocktail culture in upward social mobility. Toshiro Mifune (seated) plays a top executive of a shoe manufacturing firm. While he sits discussing business in his home with requisite cigarette and drink in hand, his right hand man stands next to two other icons of martini culture: the cocktail cart and the ice bucket.

High and Low - Mifune - martini accoutrements - bar cart, ice bucket... 1963  6.05.09 PM

In the United States, June 19 is National Martini Day.