21 June 2015

Book review: Kimono

This book, Kimono by Liza Dalby, was one of my purchases at this year's Christian Aid book sale in Edinburgh, and, to tell the truth, I don't know why I haven't bought this book long before now! I've got most of the author's other books, and kimono is a subject that really interests me.

This is a really fascinating and well-researched book. The author obviously knows lots about the subject, and is fascinated by it, as am I! The book goes right back through the history of Japanese clothing. I've come across so many interesting snippets of information in the book, and I've read them out to anyone who happened to be in the vicinity (I'm not sure if they found it as fascinating as I did!).
For example, these days we think of kimono as decorative and impractical, but kimono style clothing was worn by farmers and other workers. It was made practical, for example by using cords to hold long sleeves out of the way, and using fabrics with sashiko stitching that gave added strength and warmth. Also, the arrival of western clothing led to a textile industry boom in Japan, which helped to make Japanese industry in general as successful as it is today. The evolution and changing fashion of Japanese clothing (wafuku) continued up until western clothing (yofuku) appeared. But now it has become to some extent frozen in time, with a "right" way to wear every aspect of yofuku.

As well as the text, the book has a lot of illustrations, which help you to picture some of the aspects of Japanese clothing that are described.

I haven't finished reading the book yet, but I'm savouring each minute of it!

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