The Imagine One World Kimono Project aims to create 206 kimonos representing each of the countries expected to take part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, seizing an opportunity to spread the wonders of Japan’s master craftsmanship across the country and around the globe. At the same time, the sight of 196 kimonos on stage representing the harmony and unity of all the countries of the world is something no one has ever witnessed before.
The Imagine Oneworld Kimono Project was founded in 2014. During the past 3 years, the project has been showcasing its early creations at fashion shows in Tokyo and in the USA, and has recently completed 100 kimonos representing 100 countries. For the 106 kimono that remain to be made, Yoshimasa Takakura, 50, the head of the project, has been collecting donations via a crowdfunding site and other sources. He aims to have all of them ready by 2020.
“My dream is to see the people leading delegations wearing (the kimonos) during the parade of nations at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Games”
Carefully chosen patterns from the culture, climate, and natural beauty of each country are handwoven into the fabric of each kimono. Germany’s, for example, features musical notes and piano keys — a salute to the country’s history of famous musicians. The shapes of gears were also incorporated in the pattern, a nod to the country’s industrial achievements.
At the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, presenting the Russian Kimono
to Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin along with Japan's Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe
In contrast, India’s kimono boasts an array of elephants, peacocks, lotus blossoms, and the Taj Mahal.
Takakura, who has participated in international events such as the Expo Milano 2015, says the idea of making kimono to represent individual countries came to him while at a fashion show in Paris in 2013, when he received a positive response to a kimono that fused Japanese 18th-century painter Ito Jakuchu’s images of flowers with art-nouveau designs. It was then, he says, that he sensed “the ability of Japanese culture to respect others.”
“I’ve always wanted to restore the pride and confidence of craftspeople,” says Takakura, who is a third-generation operator of a kimono shop in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture.
Takakura prepared to launch the Imagine Oneworld Kimono Project as soon as he heard that Tokyo won the Olympic Games bid, hoping to contribute to the games through kimonos.
“My dream is to see the people leading delegations wearing (the kimonos) during the parade of nations at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Games,” he says.
“With many people getting involved to communicate (the project) overseas,” Takakura says, “Japanese people may also rediscover the charm of the kimono.”
With just two years to go, dyeing craftsmen, textile manufacturers weaving professionals and more have come together from all around Japan to make the garments. Embassies, schools and the public are also taking part, allowing the project to play a role in international exchange and education.
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