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[Kimono Style] Kanto Fans and Artisans Ready for Return of the Kimono Salone

Kimono lovers are hungry to wear their kimono out, and the October 23-24 Kimono Salone live event in Tokyo is the perfect event for every level of knowledge and interest in Japan’s iconic fashion.

Sheila Cliffe

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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. 

From the 2019 Kimono Salone

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. 

From the 2019 Kimono Salone
From the 2019 Kimono Salone

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. 

From the 2019 Kimono Salone
From the 2019 Kimono Salone

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. 

From the 2019 Kimono Salone
From the 2019 Kimono Salone

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. 

From the 2019 Kimono Salone

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.

From the 2019 Kimono Salone

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.

From the 2019 Kimono Salone
From the 2019 Kimono Salone

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.)

From the 2019 Kimono Salone
From the 2019 Kimono Salone

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.

From the 2019 Kimono Salone
From the 2019 Kimono Salone

TICKETS AND INFORMATION

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. 

For additional information: In Japanese, see the organizers’ website, here. On the Tokyo International Forum calendar, find it here.

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!

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Find other columns on kimono by author Sheila Cliffe, at this link.

Author:  Sheila Cliffe

Sheila Cliffe was born in Plymouth, England in 1961 and relocated to Japan in 1985. She gradutated from Suzunoya Kimono Gakuin and received a special award for her work in spreading kimono culture from Minzoku Ishou Bunka Fukyuu Kyoukai. She wears kimono regularly, and has taken a PhD in the study of kimono trends. She teaches kimono culture and dressing, and studied dyeing under Sassa Reiko. She has spoken in Japan and in many other countries on kimono culture, and have published a book and articles in many journals. She has worked tirelessly in events in Japan and abroad to increase cultural understanding of Japan through spreading knowledge of kimono culture around the world.