On Tuesday, May 8th, 6th grade visited Ueno Zoo and Tokyo National Museum.
This Museum displays many historical artifacts and art work from Ancient Japan and
other Asian countries.
We left the school at 8:30am and went on the JR train to Ueno. The museum is located walking distance from
the station. This was my first visit there. (http://www.tnm.jp/?lang=en) During the train ride, I was wondering what the
museum would look like, and what it displays. I thought it would be a modern museum with lots of different
screens and explaining what the item comes from and other historical things. Instead, the outside of the building was
an old fashioned Japanese building design, with a huge roof and a pretty large entrance. However, inside the building,
it had an European design staircase and had large rooms containing the artifacts.
I chose to study about the Japanese kimono because I sometimes wear it when playing the koto and
was interested in the history because it is so different from modern wear.
The kimono is a Japanese traditional garment worn both by men and women. Its shape is like a “T”.
The earliest kimono was influenced by the Chinese Han clothing and this was as early as 5th century AD.
The kimono is made of silk, wool, cotton, linen, or synthetic material. The silk is very colorful and usually
has interesting Japanese designs. There are many Kimono’s that have gold and silver lines over the design.
Designs on the Kimono were hand painting back in the old days. Kimono is complimented by using the Obi,
or belt. The Obi is also often made out of silk. The obi supports and holds the Kimono which is tied around the
Although the kimono was everyday to formal wear in the old days but more convenient Western clothes
replaced Japanese clothing as everyday wear. Now, kimonos are only for special occasions or by certain
people. I read that after the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, kimono wearers became victims of robbery
because they couldn’t run very fast. I have worn hakama (male trouser version of kimono) for Shichi-Go-San
and when playing the koto – and I know how difficult it is to walk in those special sandals and how limiting
each step is in a kimono. I can easily understand why people shifted to European styled clothes.
When I spotted the kimono, I was surprised about how big it was. The ones I saw was made in silk with
beautiful intricate design. As I can only “see” this, I can only wonder how heavy it is. But then, all of the kimono
looked the same in size… Why? I have looked it up and I have learned that size does not matter
too much – kimono is made from rectangular pieces of fabric sewn together and held together by the obi
so height or body shape does not matter! On top of that, old kimonos can be recycled in various ways -
to make into different form of jackets (haori, hiyoku) or used for children. Damaged kimonos can be
taken apart and resewn. So versatile and economic!
The kimono would definitely fit into our humanities class on the Silk Road. From the name “Silk Road”,
silk was an important commodity in trade and I am sure silk was introduced to Japan during this time.
That is probably the reason the early kimono look very similar to Chinese style garments.