Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review: Okimono Kimono

When I do kimono panels at anime conventions, my goal is to introduce kimono and traditional culture to fans of pop Japanese culture in a fun yet informative way.

Next time I do one, I'm definitely going to recommend the 2010 English translation of CLAMP manga artist and kimono enthusiast Mokona's 2007 book Okimono Kimono. It's a great, lightweight introduction to kimono, which respects the garment's cultural importance but mostly focuses on it as a living garment worn with individual style and creativity.
I received my copy today, and had a lot of fun looking through Mokona's ideas and ensembles. The book features a collection of kimono Mokona designed herself, 17 coordinates created from vintage kimono and pieces, an interview with her and Onuki Ami (Puffy AmiYumi), a photoshoot, accessory ideas, a mini-comic and more. The only thing I was hoping for more of were illustrations like the one on the cover, but that's the only full illustration in the whole book beyond the mini-comic.

Overall, I found it a great book to get anyone started on what kimono are in a fun, unintimidating way. :)

One note, however: If you are a serious collector used to books like the scholarly Kimono by Liza Dalby or someone looking for detailed kitsuke (kimono wearing) advice, this is not the book for you. There are a lot of great photos and ideas for coordinates, but beyond a few tidbits here and there no hard facts about kimono history and proper kitsuke. In fact, Mokona actually suggests breaking "standard" rules in a few cases, for example, by breaking out summer kimono earlier in the calendar than usual and making collars out of tenegui towels.

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