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Kimono and the Colors of Japan

Book Information
Title 着物と日本の色
Romaji coming
English Kimono and the Colors of Japan
Author/Editor 英語 PIE Books
Publisher 2005
Year Published 9784894444515
ISBN Yes - Japanese & English
Bilingual http://www.amazon.co.jp/着物と日本の色-弓岡-勝美/dp/4894444518 Buy
Amazon.co.jp Buy
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The first volume in a current set of five, this book contains beautiful full page photographs of many gorgeous kimono and obi from the collection of Yumioka Katsumi (弓岡勝美). These kimono date as far back to Edo era, but with a large majority of them seemingly from around Taisho/Showa.

The book is broken down into rougly 9 sections with "combination of colours" between each. The author states in his introduction that the organization of the categories have been done based on "Japanese Korkoro no Iro" - colours of the Japanese heart, using kimono or obi of specific colours to present to the readers an image of what Japanese people find individual colours to express or signify.

Each colour is devoted to it's own two page spread. One side has text both in Japanese and English and the other side has a full page photograph of a kimono or obi with the predominate colour being the one in question. The text while short, is surprisingly informative, providing us with the name of the colour in Japanese, the meaning and history behind the colour and how the colour creation is achieved. On some pages, it goes even further and provides details of the pattern on the example kimono or obi. In addition, aside from the stunning garments is that not only does it name colours and explain exactly how it is different to a shade that appears very similar, it also contains a lot of very interesting tidbits in regards to history and literature, for example:

"Rikyucha (Dusty Olive): a light brown with a hint of green. This color is claimed to be the favorite of the eminent Muromachi-Momoyama period tea master Sen'norikyu (1522-91). Interestingly, rikyucha as the name of a color (rikyu indicating the famed tea master and cha meaning tea) didn't appear in literature until after Sen'norikyu's death, around the middle of the Edo period. The theory is that kimono merchants borrowed Sen'norikyu's name, postmortem, to create a new trend from an old shade. Indeed, most shades tinted with green during this period were dubbed with the prefix rikyu, and many new hues were consequently fashioned, such as rikyu-shiracha (greenish light brown) and rikyu-nezumi (greenish gray)."

Any one remotely serious in the collecting of kimono or Japanese textiles would be wise to have this book on their shelves.



Below is a list of the colours represented in this book.

Red - pages 11-27

  • Poppy Red
  • Scarlet
  • French Vermilion (page scan and excerpt below)
  • Cardinal
  • Persimmon Red
  • Rose Red
  • Raspberry Red
  • Geranium
  • Combination of Colours - pages 28-37

Green - pages 39 - 55

  • Parrot Green
  • Mist Green (page scan and excerpt below)
  • Jade Green
  • Light Lime
  • Green Blue
  • Conifer
  • Eggshell Green
  • Spruce Green
  • Jewel Green
  • Combination of Colours - pages 56-65

Pink - pages 67-83

  • Coral Pink
  • Cherry Pink (page scan and excerpt below)
  • Cupid Pink
  • Azalea Pink
  • Very Pale Orchid Pink
  • Tree Peony Pink
  • Fuchsia Pink
  • Rose Pink
  • Combination of Colours - pages 84-93

Blue - pages 95-111

  • Cerulean Blue
  • Sapphire Blue
  • Marine Blue
  • Cyan Blue
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Blue Turquoise
  • Salvia Blue
  • Horizon Blue
  • Combination of Colours - pages 112 - 121

Brown - pages 123-139

  • Brick Red (page scan and excerpt below)
  • Sand Beige
  • Chestnut
  • Dusty Olive
  • Copper Rust
  • Garnet Brown
  • Coconut Brown
  • Van Dyke Brown
  • Combination of Colours - pages 140-149

Purple - pages 151-167

  • Fuchsia Purple
  • Deep Royal Purple
  • Blackish Purple
  • Purple Navy
  • Plum
  • Violet
  • Dusty Purple
  • Iris (page scan and excerpt below)
  • Combination of Colours - pages 168-177

Yellow - pages 179-189

  • Sunflower
  • Chartreuse Yellow
  • Lemon Yellow (page scan and excerpt below)
  • Maize Flax
  • Combination of Colours 190-195

Black & White pages 197-207

  • Lamp Black
  • Snow White
  • Charcoal Gray
  • Pearl Gray
  • Dark Slate
  • Combination of Colours 208-217

Gold & Silver - pages 219-223

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Combination of Colours pages 224-227

Sample Pages

Recommended For

  • Anyone with a remotely serious interest in kimono and Japanese textiles.
  • Those who collect vintage kimono, in particular.

Not Recommended For

  • Someone looking for a step by step kitsuke book. This book has no kitsuke instructions (but it's still a good book to have!)
  • Someone looking for a step by step style book. While you could use this book to see your mind with colour inspiration, it is not a style book in the least (but once again, it is still a good book to have!)

Article Notes

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Authors & Contributors

Author/s: Naomi Graham Hormozi (Immortal Geisha (IG Username))