How Can a Kimono Break One's Heart?

I am taking apart a kimono and weeping an unreasonable amount of tears. Every step of deconstructing this simple garment reveals such care, and elegance, and refinement that were taken in the making.

I'm not destroying, simply the last witness to a vanished world.

The tiny square of silk kasuri that reinforces the underarm just pierces my heart. The fact that it co-ordinates with the outer wool fabric shows the care taken in its selection, a tiny scrap that will never be seen, except in this final stage of its unmaking.

The silk thread in stitches so expert and appropriate, again, none that will ever be seen.

The perfect mitred hen at the front opening, such care, such evidence of a long history of garment making, such perfection in the details.

The interfacing of old cotton, a second layer starched so the collar falls just so on the woman's neck. Pure beauty.

And it was never worn. It is pristine.

Sold in a used kimono shop for 525 yen, about $5.00 Canadian.

How does one continue to live in such a world?


  1. by appreciating.

  2. Anonymous6:27 AM

    Well, I am so happy to find that the kimono has found a home where it is appreciated.
    Yes, it did only cost just over $5.00. I found it in the recycle kimono shop in Nara in the arcade near the Kintetsu station (for any of you planning to come to Japan). $5.00 does seem like an ubelieavably low price. I can report however that the kimonos in that shop are well cared for though. At least they are given the opportunity to find a new user/purpose, like a textile artist on Savary Island.
    Whatever plans you have for this kimono I am sure they will be good plans. And then one day somebody will find your work and re-use it and reform it and ... That cloth will live for many years to come. That's something to celebrate!

  3. You save them. You do just what you did: honor the maker and acknowledge the skill required to create such a masterpiece.

  4. *sniff*
    thank you for sharing. i have had those moments too, and at the time (pre blogosphere) none of my friends understood my anguish.

  5. I enjoyed this post very much, Heather. Evoked an overlayed image of two women lovingly holding the fabric in their hands, one in the past, one in the present

  6. Thanks very much Heather for sharing such story. I just returned from visiting Japan this Spring. I went to Nara that Jean-Pierre mentioned and appreciated what you have discovered in the construction of Kimono. I brought back vintage Kimono pieces and I'm using them in 'cloth to cloth online' online workshop with Jude - Regards Natima


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