The Kimono and Traditional Japanese Culture:
Investigating Kimono through Ukiyo-e
April 4 – July 19, 2008
An Exhibition by Hisa Abe ’08
This installation in our Students in the Vault series examines the importance of kimono pattern. Ukiyo-e images depict many different scenes, however kimono are especially remarkable subjects. Not only do prints put the traditional garments in historical perspective but also show the remarkable details in the beautiful clothing. During the time these images were made,
woodblock print techniques developed and became more colorful. Prints were cheap and easily accessible; they became a popular commodity, and depicted subjects of popular culture. Fashions were always changing and print artists were able to quickly create and circulate new images. To legitimize the newer, possibly less tasteful culture depicted in the prints, some subjects were also references to past periods. The prints of the time depicted popular fashion showing the striking kimono of the female beauties or bijin, Kabuki actors, and the goddess-like courtesans. Traditional motifs, patterns, and styles of kimono are still culturally ingrained and have significant visual meaning and importance in the Japanese culture.