The Meisen Kimono Exhibit

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Halifax had a rare opportunity to view vintage meisen (銘仙) kimonos.   The Anna Leonowens Gallery recently exhibited the kimono collection of Haruko Watanabe, a noted collector of Japanese antique and vintage textiles from Tokyo, Japan.

Many beautiful kimonos and haoris were on display.

What is immediately noticeable with the meisen kimonos is the patterns' disengagement from traditional kimono motifs of flowers, cranes, pine, etc.  Indeed the meisen kimono shows very bold and vivid designs!

They are like pop art.  Very refreshing, very modern.

Meisen silk became popular around the 1910's to the 1950's.  The era of art deco!

The designs are adventurous and daring.

Some were mesmerizing too!

With the introduction of a new weaving technique called "hogushi-ori" (解し織) in the early 1900's, meisen silk became easier to produce and thus became affordable to more people.  

At the beginning, the warp is held by an interim weaving. The fabric is removed from the loom and a stencil is used to print the pattern. When the printing process is complete, the real weft is woven, while the interim weft is untied. This process is called “Hogushi”.

The defining characteristics of Hogushi fabric are its lightness and durability. Both sides of the fabric can be used. Due to the warp printing, the patterns are soft and blurred, despite the bold, vivid colours.
— Arakei Textile

There were also obi at the exhibit.

The meisen kimono remained popular until around the 1950's.  After the war, fashion tastes shifted to more Western style clothing.  Also, wool  became popular.  Sadly, by the 1960's, the meisen kimono had all but disappeared.

Thank you to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), with special mention to faculty member, Nancy Price and retired professor, Naoko Furue, for making this exhibition possible.

The exhibit was also featured in the Chronicle Herald.



  1. 秩父銘仙織元 新啓織物 (Arakei Textile) 
  2. 順子のきもの想い語り 
  3. Japanese Modern Design Kimono
  4. 秩父銘仙館