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Kimono Style | Beautiful Moments from Tokyo Kimono Show 2024

The kimono show captivated with its blend of tradition and innovation, pushing boundaries, exploring new frontiers, and redefining traditional concepts.



From March 29 to 31, Tokyo's Nihonbashi and Ningyocho areas hosted the 2024 Tokyo Kimono Show. This annual gathering brings together kimono enthusiasts and artisans for a blend of shopping, entertainment, and education. The event spans various locations throughout the town, offering attendees a guidebook complete with maps to navigate seamlessly. 

One of the highlights I always enjoy is the extensive display of kimonos, ranging from antique to modern styles. The 2024 display showcased Heian period attire on mannequins and separate garments elegantly exhibited on the walls. All the exquisite dyes and color combinations crafted over a millennium ago never cease to amaze me. 

Another captivating segment of the show featured kurotomesode kimono — both ancient and contemporary — styled with striking obi, exuding impressive elegance. Early 20th-century kimono retain their stylish allure, showcasing textile techniques like mesmerizing meisen weaving, shibori tie-dyeing, and exquisite embroidery. 

From Ancient Elegance to Contemporary Innovation

Among the contemporary pieces were denim kimono featuring attached hoods, as well as kimono with zippers and nods to leather jackets. People are increasingly pushing the boundaries of kimono identity, exploring new frontiers, and redefining traditional concepts. 

A more conventional Kihachijo kimono adorned with an Iranian woven obi demonstrated beautiful harmony. Elsewhere, two kimono depicting children playing in water and a forest captivated me with their storytelling. Oda and Ohara kimono schools presented student works, displaying intricate dyeing and weaving techniques.

I am always looking for new and captivating offerings from kimono producers each year, and this year did not disappoint. There were a total of 91 shops selling kimono or kimono-related goods.

Weavers from Tango made a significant impact, while Shibata Orimono showcased their revolutionary machine-washable silk — an innovation for kimono undergarments. This development is particularly exciting for men, as traditionally silk underwear could only be aired rather than washed.

Watamasa unveiled a captivating new weave resembling small berries, ingeniously crafted from coffee plants with the word "coffee" subtly hidden within. 

Wabitas showcased beautiful heko (soft cloth) obi with delicate embroidered circles on chiffon fabric. They would make a delightful addition to yukata attire, especially perfect for the summer season. Layering two obi atop one another enhanced the chiffon effect. The rising demand for a youthful, feminine kimono style featuring layers, frills, and lace suggests these obi will be popular.

Kunimatsu Koki, a hand weaver from Fukaya, Saitama, creates stunning textiles using natural plant dyes. His intricate checked patterns showcase traditional craftsmanship with vibrant colors. The splendid color harmony of these obi complements a wide range of tsumugi kimono, enhancing their overall elegance and allure.

Illustrator Takashima Shion's playful yukata designs brim with whimsy and creativity. Her charmingly eccentric creatures will make wonderfully original yukata. Emon's collaboration with Nishioka Pencil has resulted in stylish yukata designs that are equally captivating and fashionable. 

Illustrator Takashima Shion's playful yukata (©Sheila Cliffe)

Workshops and Performances

Let's not overlook footwear. Among the most captivating I saw were the vibrant day-glo-colored zori from Iwasa. These shoes are guaranteed to make a statement wherever you go — contemporary, cool, and perfect for strolling through Harajuku's vibrant streets.

At another spot, a diverse array of workshops was underway, offering engaging activities and hands-on experiences for attendees. Participants could craft fabric-covered shells, silk or mizuhiki hair accessories, and beaded haori himo at the variety of workshops available. They could also experience a traditional tea ceremony. 


Over the course of three days, the event featured multiple stage performances daily, including talk shows by renowned kimono personalities. Additionally, there were NHK Taiga drama discussions, fashion shows by various brands and designers, and demonstrations on hair and wedding styling.

Despite Friday morning's storm in Tokyo, venues were bustling with kimono-clad visitors, eager to shop, craft, and explore the exhibition. Seeing so many kimono enthusiasts, including a growing contingent of younger men, made me optimistic for the future of kimono.


Author: Sheila Cliffe

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