‘Kimono: Mirror of Modernity’ at Japan Museum SieboldHuis

Japan Museum SieboldHuis is pleased to present the exhibition ‘Kimono: Mirror of Modernity’ from 19 July to 8 December 2024. Discover the unique fusion of Japanese tradition and Western modernity in the extraordinary Manavello collection, which highlights the transition from the 19th to the 20th century. These kimonos reflect the new era of modernity that Japan embraced during this period. Be enchanted by the striking patterns, vibrant colours and unique details in this exhibition.

Kimono tradition
For centuries, the kimono was worn daily by Japanese people. This traditional garment is characterized by its geometric T-shape and is fastened with an obi, a wide sash. After Japan opened up in 1854, there was a change in the traditional use of the kimono. In 1872, an imperial decree stipulated that Western clothing must be worn at official occasions. This applied only to the upper class, but in the large cities, more and more Japanese people dressed in Western attire.

Artistic fashion
Despite the rise of Western clothing, the kimono remained popular, especially among young women. Technological advancements led to faster and cheaper production of kimono fabrics. At the same time, new designs were introduced. Bright colours and abstract forms, inspired by European artists such as Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian, were applied to kimonos sold in department stores. Actresses and famous geishas contributed to the popularization of the modern kimono.

National pride
While women’s kimonos often featured patterns inspired by Western art, many kimonos for men and children reflected growing patriotism and enthusiasm for technological developments. Stories of Japanese expansion missions and industrialization promoted a growing nationalistic sentiment, expressed through kimonos with images of technology, expansion, and conflict.
Discover the fascinating world of the kimono, where tradition and modernity converge.

About Japan Museum SieboldHuis
Japan Museum SieboldHuis offers the finest from old Japan in a historic Dutch house on Rapenburg in Leiden: prints, lacquerware, ceramics, fossils, herbaria, taxidermy, clothing, old maps and hundreds of other treasures. All objects were collected between 1823 and 1829 by Philipp Franz von Siebold, a Bavarian physician serving the Dutch trading post Deshima in Japan.

Japan Museum SieboldHuis
Rapenburg 19
2311 GE Leiden