Child Kimono and the Colors of Japan

Child Kimono and the Colors of Japan
ISBN 4894446073 and 978-4894446076 link link

Topic Discussion on Immortal Geisha Forums:
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Book Breakdown:
Following along the lines of the first and the second book in this series, Katsumi Yumioka presents to us the third book focusing on children’s kimono, and various colours by season. As with the previous two, this book fails to disapoint with it’s colourful, full page photo spreads and interesting commentary.

These kimono in this particular collection date from late Edo to mid Showa. In addition to kimono though, he presents to us other unique elements of a Japanese childhood in regards to special clothing worn for Shrine visits, holidays celebrated and a particular focus to patterns.

Whereas the previous two books were broken down and grouped by colour, this particular book has taken a different approach and grouped itself firstly by season, and then after seasons, kimono ceremonies, everyday kimono and patterns.

The seasonal sections start off with a number of different colours associated with that particular season. As before, each colour has it’s own two page spread, one side with text in Japanese and English describing the colour, and the other side with a full page photograph of kimono in the shade discussed. Following the colours comes discussion about a particular holiday associated with that season and children, along with various patterns associated with the season.

Below is the list of content:

Spring page 15-49
Niwaume iro
Mitsuba-tsutsuji iro
Yamabuki iro
Nanohana iro
Sawarabi iro (scan and excerpt below)
Shidare-yanagi iro
Tsukushi iro
Shojo-bakama iro
Sumire iro
Kobushi iro
Yukiyanagi iro
Combination of spring colors pages 38-41

Hina-matsuri (the Doll’s Festival) 42

Japanese plum pattern
Peach pattern
Tree peony pattern

Tango-no sekku (Boy’s Day) 50-51
Boys’ Kimono 52-53

Summer page 55-89
Kakitsubata iro
Mugiwara iro
Wasuregusa iro
Sekichiku iro
Hiougi iro
Tachi-aoi iro
Natsu-tsubaki iro
Tsuyukusa iro
Gaku-ajisai iro
Combination of summer colours 74-77

Tanabata (star festival) 78

Ayame pattern
Seashells and sea moss pattern (scan and excerpt below)
Wind bells pattern
Wave pattern
Insect cage pattern

Yukata pages 90-93
Happi and hanten pages 94-95

Autumn pages 97-127
Takao-kaede iro
Kosumosu iro
Hazenoki iro
Kinmokusei iro
Icho iro
Nokishinobu iro
Donguri iro (scan and excerpt below)
Rindo iro
Murasaki-shikibu iro
Susuki iro
Combination of autumn colours 118-121

Jugoya (full moon festival) 122

Chrysanthemums pattern
Field day pattern

Winter pages 129-159
Sazanka iro
Nanten iro
Roubai iro
Kanboke iro
Tachibana iro
Kitayama-sugi iro
Tsuwabuki iro
Hazumi-dama iro
Hakubai iro (scan and excerpt below)
Nekoyanagi iro
Combination of winter colours pages 150 – 153

New Year 154

Moso’s bamboo shoots pattern
Seven herbs of spring pattern

Kimono & Ceremonies 161-185
Miya-mairi (visiting a Shinto shrine)
The kimono of Miya-mairi
Abu-chan and miyamairi cap (scan and exerpt below)
Semamori and Maigofuda
The kimono of Shichi-Go-San
Kazari-nui (ornamental embroidery)
Hifu and Michiyuki
Jusan mairi (temple visit for thirteen-year-olds)
The kimono of Jusan mairi

Everyday Kimono pages 186-189

Pattern pages 191-235

Dove pattern
Kusudama pattern
Kicho pattern
Lions and tree peonies pattern
Noshi pattern
Crane and tortoise pattern
Fairy tales pattern
Carp pattern
Gosho ningyo pattern
Toys pattern
Dogs pattern (scan and exerpt below)
Dolls pattern
Butterfly pattern
Kai-oke pattern
Musical instruments pattern
Flower cart pattern
Temari pattern
Origami crane pattern
Phoenix pattern
Hana-zukushi pattern

My Opinion:
As with the previous two books, I am in love. While I felt that the seasonal patterns were rather generic, the content of the rest of the book more than made up for it. I particularly liked that the author provided us with deeper information about the various festivals and celebrations, along with introducing us to unique items like the miyamairi cap and abu-chan. These are all events and/or items we keep seeing, but never really know much information or history about.

– Anyone with a remotely serious interest in kimono and Japanese textiles.
– Those who collect vintage kimono, in particular.
– Anyone who has been curious about children’s kimono.

Not Recommend:
– Someone looking for a step by step kitsuke book. This book has no kitsuke instructions (but it’s still a good book to have!)
– Someone looking for a step by step style book. While you could use this book to see your mind with colour inspiration, it is not a style book in the least (but once again, it is still a good book to have!)

Sawarabi iro

“This is a grayish Nile green, similar to tokusa iro (the color of scouring rushes), but even lighter. Warabi (a kind of fern) is common in mountains and fields, and its young fiddlehead frond, which emerges in early spring, is called sawarabi. This was an important food source in ancient Japan, where few native vegetables were available. People still enjoy eating marinated or boiled warabi, or fried as tempura. Warabi starch is used for warabi-mochi (sweet dumplings). One of the chapters in Tale of Genji was titled Sawarabi, and the story mentions warabi and field horsetail.”

Seashells and sea moss pattern

“Miru (sea moss) is often depicted in combination with seashells. Shelled creatures were treasured because they were believed to live in the Dragon Palace in Shinsenkyo, an immortal undersea paradise. Miru has long been appreciated for its sleek, wavy appearance. Miru’s thick stems were called mirufusa, and were often used as a metaphor for a woman’s luxuriant hair. Corals, also, depicted in this pattern, were deemed one of the celebrated “seven treasures” and were often used in women’s accessories. The pattern of seashells and sea moss often adorned women’s kimono and trousseus to symbolize virtue, beauty, and life’s richness. Seashells were also the symbol of a strong defense and the virtues of the samurai life.”

Donguri iro

“A light liver color, between kogecha (burnt umber) and karacha (the brown colour of a withered leaf). Donguri (acorn) is the collective name for nuts of fagaceae plants, including sawtooth and other oaks and the Japanese horse chestnut. The nuts of the latter and of the sawtooth oak are sometimes called “tochiguri,” though a phonetic transformation from donguri. Donguri iro specifically refers to the color of oak acorns, while the traditional name “tsurubami iro” refers to the color of sawtooth oak, a lighter brownish-red. Oak trees are commonly found in city parks and in the gardens of older, historical houses in Japan. The sound of falling acorns adds a particular flavor to the autumnal season.”

Hakubai iro

“This white has a hint of yellow, almost the same as neri iro, the colour of softened wild silk. Hakubai are “white plums”. The plum is a deciduous rosaceous tree, brought from China before the nara period. Plums are called ume in Japanese, phonetically based on the Chinese word for this fruit, mei. People have long appreciated its beauty, aroma, and taste, rendering this plant even more popular and widespread. The word hana (flower) used to connote plums before the Middle Ages, while today the word generally suggest cherry blossoms. Hakubai, used as a metaphor for snow in the Anthology of Ten Thousand Leaves, blooms from winter to early spring, followed by kobai (red plums).”

Abu-chan and Miyamairi cap

“A miyamairi cap and an abu-chan (baby’s bib) are used in rites such as the miyamairi shrine visit or the ceremony known as okuizome*. The color red and auspicious patterns are used abundantly to adorn these items, warding off evil and -hopefully- ensuring the baby’s good health and future successess. An abu-chan with a red sea bream pattern generally seems to have been used in the okuizome ceremony. The boy’s cap has two pieces of cloth that attach to and hang from the edge of the cap covering the nape of the neck. It would appear that this type of cap was created in the Edo or Meiji period, given the resemblance of the design to a hood worn in those days.
Note* Okuizome
This is a ceremony celebrated around the hundredth day after birth, when a baby’s teeth are coming in, in the hopes of ensuring that the baby will always have enough to eat, throughout his or her life. In this event, festive red rice and grilled whole fish are prepared using brand-new bowls and plates and people pretend to feed the babies. In some cases, little stones are displayed along with the dishes to symbolize hopes for sound and healthy teeth.”

Dogs Pattern

“In the old days, as giving birth was life threatening work, amagatsu or bouko dolls were displayed by beds as a scapegoat for evil, in the hopes of ensuring the safety of the mother and child. Dogs were considered to be a symbol of fecundity, easy delivery, and easy child rearing. The dog motif was also employed in inu-bako, a dog-shaped box with human face on the lid. A pair of inu-bako, resembling a couple of dogs, was used to guard bedrooms, to ward off evil and as a lucky charm for easy delivery. Inu hariko is also a dog-shaped doll offered as a gift on a visit to a shrine, or as a decoration for the Doll Festival.”

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