Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Kimono of Itchiku Kubota

Today is another post full of pictures. At my last Japanese embroidery meeting, Nancy mentioned an exhibit being held at the Toronto Textile Museum displaying silk kimonos by a Japanese artist named Itchiku Kubota. A group of them will be going to the exhibit at the end of April. I unfortunately couldn't go as I will be travelling, so I made sure to pass by while I was in Toronto over the weekend.

I did some research on Google, hoping to find a video demonstrating the technique used by Kubota and stumbled on this lecture that explained the history of the technique much better than I could ever have (I recommend watching the video first). There is also this video here that I couldn't link in the post.

(click on the post to see the video below)

If you plan on visiting the exhibit and want to be surprised, I would stop reading here :) The rest of the post is all pictures of the different kimonos. Most of the kimonos are from his Symphony of Lights collection of which there are 40. He planned on making 80 but died before he was able to complete the series. His son and daughter have taken up his work at his studio in Tokyo.

The Universe (from left to right): Ha, Uzu, En, Chuu, Zu, Shu
A close up shot of Ha (A curling wave of Magma). Many of the pieces have floral and leaf motifs drawn on them after the fabric had been dyed and some were also embroidered in silk.

He was fascinated with Mount Fuji. It was possible he was influenced by French Impressionists and hads made many kimonos depicting Mount Fuji at different times of the day and in different seasons trying to capture it's moods. When he finally built a museum to hold his art, he made sure to select a site from which Mount Fuji could be seen.

Fuji standing in burning clouds
Red Fuji at dawn
A tender, cool dawn
Fuji standing against golden layers at clouds
They had some pieces that were individual work and not part of any series. I really love the colors he used in his work. Especially the purples, reds and oranges.


The next kimonos are all part of the Symphony of Lights: Seasons collection. Some of the names do repeat themselves, so those are not a mistake. I'm not super crazy about the pale colors, but when you look at the kimonos up close the work that went into them is amazing.

Seasons (from left to right): Shoujoutou, Rurikon, Kougaki, Benigara, Kamimurasaki, Jo

Seasons (from left to right): Ryou, Kou, Hin

Seasons (from left to right): Hou, Kou, Ei, Sei

Seasons: Shou, Ai
Seasons: Byou, Bou

Seasons (from left to right): Kyoku, Ryou, Chou, Kan, Jo
I really like the next three kimonos. Looking at them is like looking at a Japanese ink painting.

Here is an animation of close up shots of the various kimonos just to give you an idea of the detail that went into them.

(click on the post to see the animation below)

There was a catalog available to purchase as part of the exhibition. It is available to purchase online from the textile museum here. It contains pictures of all of Kubota's works, with some close up pictures and a section on his creative process.

A plus, I also found a Japanese embroidery issue that's published in Japan by Kurenai-Kai in the used books section at the museum gift shop. It was a little expensive, but the pictures are lovely and it also includes a booklet with English translations.


  1. What a truly stunning exhibition!

  2. All these kimonos are really wonderful : Thanks for sharing :)

  3. How beautiful! Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. Amazing work .... wish I lived closer so I could see it in person. Thanks for a great post!

  5. Wow, those are gorgeous! I really should look around to see if there are any textile exhibitions close to where I live, I would love to go. I think my favourite of the kimonos is Kasanenichrin. Usually, when seeing those intricate designs, I think 'It's beautiful to looks at, but I could never imagine wearing that' - but I would totally wear any of those kimonos!