Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Children's kimono Part 1

I often have customers asking  for kimono for their children to wear but unfortunately we don't have a lot of everyday children's kimono come through the shop (the cotton kasuri kimono you can see in the shop photo at the top of the blog is an exception).  Most of the old children's kimono we have are small children's ceremonial silk kimono which are usually quite expensive and more suited to hanging on the wall than wearing. This is simply because ceremonial kimono are the ones that have survived over the years. They were rarely worn and were then carefully stored as family treasures. In contrast a lot fewer everyday kimono have survived without being stained, torn and completely worn out or recycled into something else. And in more recent years children simply haven't worn kimono as everyday clothing.
Here are a few early-mid 20th century children's kimono from my collection. You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them for a closer look. The first one looks very similar to the cotton kasuri  kimono in the shop photo but is actually made of rayon. It's very worn and almost in tatters. Kasuri  is a  Japanese ikat, a textile technique in which threads are bound and dyed before they are woven. It's traditionally hand-dyed and woven in indigo on cotton but from the late 19th century various machine produced versions such as this became available.

People don't usually think of kimono being made from rayon but Japan developed a large rayon industry after the first world war and by the 1930's was one of the major producers in the world. We  get some lovely girls' rayon  kimono fabrics  from that period as well.  This kind of kasuri kimono was standard boy's wear in the early-mid 20th century as you can see from this old school photo from 1924:

The next one is a dark brown boy's padded cotton kasuri winter kimono from the 1930's. It's in excellent condition but the front is still  marked with reminders of a number of long ago meals.

The last one is my favourite. This is a very small child's summer kimono made from finely striped indigo dyed ramie. It's a similar age to the first two (or perhaps slightly older) and has probably been recycled from an adult's kimono. It still has a rusty safety pin in the front that has been used to fasten it.

None of these items are of much monetary value but have great value in my collection. They all have their own character and interest and add a little bit to our sense of  life in Japan in the pre-war years when traditional textiles were still part of everyday life.  


  1. Hi Jan, Was just looking you up on the web to see if you were still selling fabric and found your new blog! Love it!
    I was referring to your shop on my new blog. I still remember the lovely day I had there a few years ago. I hope to get back one day.

  2. Thanks very much Deb. I just had a look at your blog as well - it looks terrific. I'll have to work out how to get a bit more adventurous with the design of mine!
    Hope to see you again one day.