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Jazz Age Paintings Of Beautiful Women And The Real Kimonos They Were Wearing

If you love kimono – and especially if you love Taisho and Showa-age kimono – don’t miss this exhibition! Right now, the Yayoi-Yumeji Museum – where over 3,000 of artist/illustrator Takehisa Yumeji’s works are archived – is displaying the actual kimonos and accessories worn in his paintings, side by side.

I’m a huge fan of Taisho Era kimono (1912-1926), because they’re perfectly suited for hime-style wear, in which Japanese kimonos are worn with Western-style gloves, hats, shoes and other accessories. While Western jazz-age women were shedding their corsets and raising their hemlines, Japanese kimono designers entered into the roaring-20s spirit by shucking off traditional seasonal colors and designs in favor of brighter, more graphic fabrics, often with western motifs. Think roses instead of cherry blossoms!

You can instantly tell that these are Taisho Era by the explosion of unusual color combinations

Artist/illustrator Takehisa Yumeji (1884- 1924) was one of the foremost painters of beautiful jazz age women (bijin-ga). The exhibition takes advantage of the fact that his wife was his chief model, and the museum owns all the kimonos she used when modeling for the paintings.

He took a little artistic license, but not much!
Obviously the very same kimono and accessories!
I like the real kimono much better than the illustration, but maybe that’s just me
So, so, cool

You still have a chance to catch this one through September 29th (2019), so if you haven’t seen it, GO.

Where: Yayoi-Yumeji Museum, 2-4-3 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Open: Every day, closed Mondays

Hours: 10:00 – 17:00

Admission: Adults, ¥900; Children ¥400


(It was forbidden to take photos anywhere but the top floor, so the kimono/illustration photos are taken from the official museum catalog for this exhibition) And if you’d like to get a regular dose of kimonos like these (and more!), styled for the modern age, go check out Angie Salz’s blog – you will not be disappointed!

The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon!

“A great read!” —Liza Dalby, author of Geisha and The Tale of Murasaki

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

4 thoughts on “Jazz Age Paintings Of Beautiful Women And The Real Kimonos They Were Wearing Leave a comment

  1. This is one I’d love to see. Years ago, Jonelle took me to a shop that specialized in kimonos of that era, and they were a fabulous surprise.

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