This year, Kimono Salone, an event loved by Kanto area kimono fans, is back and in a new location, Tokyo International Forum, in Yurakucho. It is an event that has been eagerly awaited by both makers and wearers, as it is a unique get-together for all of them.
The committee for Kimono Salone in Nihonbashi was founded in 2012, but it was a small event at the beginning. By 2019 it had become the biggest kimono fashion and cultural event in Japan.
Held in Coredo and Yuito in Nihonbashi, it welcomed over 10,000 visitors over 2 or 3 days. Then, in 2020 it had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, much to the disappointment of both kimono makers, and kimono fans.
The pandemic period has been very damaging for the kimono industry. Department stores have been closed or restricted in their operations. This has meant that nothing has moved from the warehouses, and this in turn has left the artisans unable to move their products. The yukata market was also a complete flop, as there were no events for people to wear yukata, either.
For kimono lovers, the cancelation of almost every event for going out in kimono, and restrictions on going out to restaurants or even meeting with family and friends, has taken a great toll. They are hungry for an opportunity to wear kimono outside.
Introducing Kimono Salone
So what exactly is Kimono Salone?
I have previously complained about the long time that it takes for kimono to arrive at the market place from the artisans. Kimono Salone is an event where this gap is bridged.
Kimono makers come from all over Japan, and each has a booth to sell their goods. This is a unique chance to talk directly with the makers of the kimono, and hear them explain their works.
Everything from the fine yuzen workshops of Kyoto, to the weaving of outlying islands, to the digital prints of fashionable new makers can be found here. There are booths specializing in underwear, footwear and accessories, too.
This year almost a hundred makers will have their goods on display, so this is a unique chance to enjoy the incredible variety of kimono types.
Fun Beyond the Shopping
But Kimono Salone is not only about shopping. It is also about entertainment and education. Over both days of the event, opportunities for learning and entertainment can be found on stage at the venue.
On October 23, the Tokyo Kimono Collection Fashion Shows will take place. Four kimono designers will have fashion shows during the day. These are always very popular and the latest offerings from these makers can be seen on the runway. This year the artisans are Sasaya Uhei, Murokafu, Yasuo Aono, and Jotaro Saito.
On October 24, the stage will be used for various entertainment. The popular boy band Boys and Men will perform, and there will be an opportunity to hear ancient court music. Retired Takarazuka dancers will also put on a show, and there will be ballroom dancing in kimono.
There is also a session on kimono dressing techniques, and a show of tie-dyed kimono where you can learn about these techniques.
In addition to these on-stage events, a hundred kimono-clad torsos from each participating maker will be found around the event space. On entry to the event, one receives a card, and the invitation to vote for the coordination that you think is the most beautiful. At the end of the two days, the most popular kimono coordinations are announced.
There will also be a display of kimono designed by university and kimono specialist school students. Several schools around Tokyo have courses in kimono design and the top designs from these schools will be on display.
There is always a place for hands-on experience, too. In the past there have been opportunities for participating in the tea ceremony, dyeing a kimono collar using some nagashi techniques, making accessories with mizuhiki threads, among others. Not only have I enjoyed the tea ceremony in the past, but I have also made two collars at this event, which I regularly use with my kimono outfits. I am excited to see what I can try this year. (This activity may be restricted this year, due to COVID-19 prevention measures.)
Meet the Artisans
The event provides an opportunity for feedback and new ideas, so it is an important chance for the artisans.
The artisans I know have been putting their heart and soul into getting their finest work together to show at Kimono Salone. This is a special opportunity for them to meet their customers and sell to them directly.
Kimono wearers have been talking about this event since early in 2021, hoping that it would actually happen. With the end of the state of emergency, it will.
Event: Kimono Salone
When: October 23-24, 2021
Where: Tokyo International Forum, 5-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo 100-0005
Tickets ー Advance Purchase: Purchase in advance online at a discount, for the price of ￥1,000 JPY at this link on the organizers’ website.
Tickets ー at the Venue: Tickets may also be purchased at the venue for the full price, ￥1,500 JPY on the days of the Salone.
Please wear a mask, use disinfectant and cooperate with staff who will be working to prevent large groups from gathering too close together. Enjoy yourself, and see you there!
Find other columns on kimono by author Sheila Cliffe, at this link.
Author: Sheila Cliffe