How does the Kimono reproduces Japanese identity in our diasporic community?
How does the Japanese Kimono produces an identity in modern diasporic communities?
What is the relationship between the Japanese Kimono, Modernity, National Identity,Diaspora and Transnationalism?
Crested Kimonos symbolizes a wearer’s ethnic identity and family history. In the Japanese Diaspora, individuals that own a crested kimono continuously wear them on special occasions or during different traditional festivals. Kimonos influence the way consumer culture use Affect to market Japanese goods. In the manga and anime industry, characters are designed wearing kimonos, a symbol of Japanese cultural identity. In the anime Naruto Shippuden, Jiraiya sensei wears a short kimono with pants that associates him as an honourable, Japanese warrior.
Japanese individuals around the world have different sentiments about the kimonos. It is not worn on an everyday basis but remains the epitome of Japanese culture. In the Meiji period, a special blend of kimono was produced and worn by nobility in the Imperial palace. Meisen Kimonos are known for their colourful design patterns.
I interviewed my Japanese roommate, Shuntaro to gain a better perspective about the social life of a kimono. As an international student in Canada, Shuntaro does not own a kimono. Several young Japanese individuals have little or no knowledge about the historical life of the Kimono garment. Many see it in anime, manga or on a geisha, and do not any familial associations with the kimono. Even so, they are aware that it is part of Japan’s cultural identity. Shuntaro also stated that a geisha’s kimonos have flowery patterns that indicate if a geisha has a male patron that sponsors her lifestyle. The Sakura or cherry blossom tree is famous in Japanese history as one of the most beautiful trees in the Imperial palace. The flower symbolizes spring and is often seen on modern kimonos worn by women.
In “Meet Japan’s first Western geisha,” Abigail Haworth interviewed Sayuki. Haworth reveals that Sayuki has acquired silk and cotton kimonos from her geisha mother. Her multicolored collection of kimonos is valued at $20,000. Sayuki wore pink, blue, and green kimonos with a flowery design at her meetings with Haworth. Sayuki is Dr. Fiona Graham. Graham is an anthropologist from Melbourne, Australia. She arrived in Japan at age 15, and left to pursue her PH.D at Oxford University (Haworth 2009:104). While conducting field work on geishas, Graham began to admire them and transformed herself into a modern day geisha. She was named Sayuki by her geisha mother and now goes by that name. Sayuki’s kimono collection is beautiful. She wears geisha kimonos, black wigs, make-up and shoes that are similar to other Japanese geisha. She lives in an “Okiyo, or geisha houses,” with other recruits and is trained by her geisha mother, Yukiko (Haworth 2009: 104). Yukiko objective is teaching young trainees Japanese’s geisha customs.
Haworth interactions with Sayuki’s kimonos illustrates that they are marked with historical, economic and cultural value. Some of Sayuki’s kimonos were given to her by Yukiko and symbolizes her status in the geisha world as a young trainee without a male patron. Sayuki has decided to spend the rest of her life as a geisha and has given up her Australian identity. She states, “My Western background is irrelevant in my daily working life. I have to adhere strictly to the rules and customs just like everyone else” (Haworth 2009:104). The images of Sayuki’s in her geisha kimonos are similar to images of authentic yukatas worn by women during the Edo Period in Japan.
Haworth, Abigail. “Meet Japan’s first Western geisha.” Marie Claire Dec. 2009: 104+. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 3 Feb. 2012.
Kimonos are important garments in Japanese Culture. The Yukata is a famous traditional Kimono is Japan. Ching-jung Lin and Jhong-Jyun Guo states “Yukata is always produced in mass production in considering prices” (2008:458). The striped or flower patterns on a Yukata can also influence its price in Kimono markets. My research will examine the influence of diaspora on the Yukata. Historically, they were sewed with different design patterns that distinguished a person’s class in society. In our contemporary world, they are produced in mass numbers at factories and sold at kimono stores around the world. The Kimono is still seen as a beautiful cultural object because of the different design patterns.
Ching-jung Lin and Jhong-Jyun Guo states that the Yukata is still a symbolic object in Japanese culture. Flower patterns on a Yukata draw reference to its user and may have special meaning for the person wearing it (Lin and Guo 2008:460). Kimonos are made from flexible cloths with different textures. Anthropologist Tetsuya Sano and Hideki Yamamoto state that “with this system, it is possible to align the standard texture of the Yukata, such as striped and stencil Patterns (2002:111). A Yukata is designed by cutting out seven different panels of fabrics. Then the Fabric is cut in a specific manner for the right sleeves, left sleeves,collar, right collar, left collar, right overlap, and left overlap (Sano and Yamamoto 2002:112). On average, the Yukata is 36 cm wide, and 1200 cm in length (Sano and Yamamoto 112). The fabric differs in design and style based on its wearers’ gender, age, and size.
Malt beverage is sweet in taste and a non-fermented beer. The weight and size of the drink varies based on manufacturer, size, and style of the bottle. There are several different manufacturers around the world that make and produce malt beverages. Malta is black or dark brown in color. Large bottle are usually 330 mL, and smaller bottles varies based on the brand of malt beverage. The bottle is dark is color and resembles a long-neck beer bottle in its design and style. In Canadian society, the average Malta cost $1.27 or less. The most expensive brand is Vitamalt Classic. It is thought to be the most authentic Malt beverage because it originated from Denmark. The design on the bottles of Vitamalt classic are more regal than other brands. The beverage is labeled Vitamalt in a circular pattern around the bottle.
In Koptoff’s cultural perspective on an object, he states that, “commodities must be not produce materially as things, but also culturally marked as being a certain kind of thing (64). Several restaurants in the Caribbean sell malt beverages with food because it is seen as a drink that enables the food to taste better. In Grenada, Malta is delicious with black cake (also known as rum cake in Jamaica), roti’s, beef patties, and other types of food. It is advertised in the Caribbean as a drink for the whole family since it is non-alcoholic.
Koptoff, I. The Cultural Biography of Things- commoditization as process. In A. Appadurai (ed) The Social Life of Things- Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge University Press: 1986, 64-91.
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