Now, I think kimonos are lovely, and I find their colors and patterns absolutely fascinating. But as beautiful as they are, kimonos tend to be expensive, and the process of wearing them is complicated enough that it takes considerable practice (usually involving going to classes of some kind) to dress yourself properly in one. And the truth is that there are very few opportunities today for the average Japanese to dress in kimono outside of special occasions, such as the coming-of-age ceremony, university graduations or weddings. Yes, people do still wear kimonos, but it’s rare enough that someone in a kimono will stand out in a crowd, as visitors to Japan will undoubtedly have noticed. And if simply being in a kimono can be eye-catching, imagine how much attention you might get wearing a stunning kimono like the one pictured above!
The picture, taken at the “Tokamachi Snow Festival” held earlier this year in February, was shared on a blog by Mikio Takahashi, who runs the hot spring day spa facility Naste View Yunoyama in Tokamachi City, located in Niigata Prefecture, an area along the Sea of Japan coast on the main island of Honshu that is known for heavy snow and hot springs. The Snow Festival held in the city each February is said to be the oldest festival of its kind in Japan, and every year, on the last day of the festival, they hold the “Tokamachi Kimono Queen Contest“. Tokamachi has been long known as a region that produces quality kimonos, and three “Kimono Queens” are selected in the contest each year to take on the role of what may be called a “public relations ambassador” to promote the city.
▼Beautiful works of art made from snow are displayed throughout the city during the festival, a popular event that involves concerts and fireworks as well.
According to Takahashi’s blog, the lovely lady in the picture he shared is a young American woman who actually lives in Tokamachi and participated in the Kimono Queen Contest this year. The kimono she wore was created by yuzen kimono artist Akira Takizawa’s studio, Takisin Kikaku, and was inspired by the beautiful stained-glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, France.
▼See the gorgeous details of the kimono up-close!
▼And here are some pictures of the Saint-Chapelle windows which the kimono’s design was modeled after.
Patterns based on stained-glass windows are by no means conventional for traditional Japanese clothing, but heavens, that kimono is absolutely stunning! As far as we can see, the artist has done an amazing job of combining western design with traditional Japanese craft, and it must feel divine to be wrapped in such a gorgeous piece of silk.
The quality of material and craftsmanship involved in producing yuzen kimono means that they’re precious in every sense of the word, and they usually come at a significant price, but when you see a work of art like this, you can understand a little better why these kimonos are so highly valued. We’re certainly grateful to Takahashi-san for sharing such a delightful picture with us!
Source: Hokkori to Yunoyama Blog via Japaaan Magazine, Tokamachi Snow Festival website (all in Japanese)
All photos of stained-glass kimono: Hokkori to Yunoyama Blog
Snow Festival photo: Tokamachi Snow Festival website
Sainte-Chapelle photos: Wikipedia (Sainte-Chappelle)