Rediscovering the Kimono for the Modern Age in Tokyo

The kimono is Japan’s most iconic traditional garment. It came into being during the Heian period (794-1192) and still to this day remains a wardrobe staple for both men and women. More than just a garment, however, the kimono has shaped the nation’s artistic, textile, and technology culture quite unlike any other garment in the country.

Tokyo is the home of Japan’s progressive kimono culture, and you can experience a whole gamut of different kimono ideologies and projects here. If you want to wear traditional kimono and wander around some shrines, there are plenty of places to do that. However, if you want to see something that melds cutting edge art and design and the kimono, there are places like artist Hiroko Takahashi’s stunning studio nestled in the quiet neighborhood of Narihira, Sumida.

Today from her studio, Takahashi mixes modern ideas, geometric designs, and stylish contemporary aesthetics with the classic kimono silhouette. She founded her brand “HIROCOLEDGE” in 2016, and her work and ethos are so representative of Tokyo’s progressive attitude, and it’s landed her plenty of attention both locally and across the world. “The simplicity of the kimono creates a unique result for whoever wears it; it triggers my artistic sense,” she says. “You can’t recreate a style perfectly; the kimono comes out different every time. I want to change how kimono is perceived in the modern world by combining the modern style with traditionalist ideas. Tokyo is a great place to do that because it’s a trigger point for the rest of the nation. At the moment, the world is looking at Tokyo as the representation of Japan, and we want to showcase what we can do.”

While classic kimono studios may be closed off to outsiders, Takahashi’s studio is open to the public and those interested in meeting with her or learning more about her work. Spending some time rediscovering the kimono for the modern age is an excellent way to see just how Tokyo is propelling the history of the nation into the present day.

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