The Korin Kimono Restoration Project
This project will be undertaken by Tokyo National Museum and the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties(CPCP) with support from your donations.
A message from our curator
Oyama Yuzuruha (Chief Curator of Decorative Arts, Tokyo National Museum)
According to records bequeathed to our museum, the Korin Kimono was purchased by the Tokyo Imperial Household Museum (Tokyo National Museum’s predecessor) during the Meiji period (1868–1912). It came with a document attesting to its provenance. This document states that the garment originally came with no lining, just the outer fabric. A lining was then attached and the garment mounted as a kimono for display.
When I first exhibited the Korin Kimono, I was shocked by how damaged it was compared to photographs I had seen. The autumn flower pattern had such a graceful beauty when viewed from a distance, but a closer view revealed how the white lining had been sewed in using a ragged plain stitch in a manner almost reminiscent of the quilting on a traditional Japanese farming jacket. This plain stitch dates back to when the garment was mounted as a kimono after entering the museum’s collection, but the extensive application of large white threads ended up obscuring Ogata Korin’s brushwork. The fragile silk ground had also suffered wear and tear over the garment’s 300-year history. It can still be exhibited today, but the plain stitch on the outer fabric is too strong and it is clear the silk ground will only grow weaker if no action is taken.
This is the only fully-intact garment featuring a pattern drawn by Ogata Korin. We now need to begin the necessary repair work to ensure the Korin Kimono can be passed down through the next 100 to 200 years.
Robe (Kosode) with Autumn Flowers
By Ogata Korin
Edo period, early-18th century
Important Cultural Property
The Important Cultural Property Robe (Kosode) with Autumn Flowers was designed by Ogata Korin, an Edo period artist who gave his name to the renowned Rinpa school.
Korin was born in Kyoto. He later went to Edo (as Tokyo was formerly known) and in 1709 he stayed at the house of a lumber merchant named Fuyuki family, located in the Fukagawa district. He drew this pattern for the wife of the merchant, which is why the garment is also known as the Fuyuki Kosode.
Garments with unique patterns or pictures painted directly onto the surface using ink or color were very popular among the wives of wealthy merchants. This trend explains why Korin was asked to draw this pattern on the kimono.
The Korin Kimono features autumn flowers such as chrysanthemums, bush clovers, bellflowers and pampas grass, all rendered using different shades of indigo. Bellflowers unfurl across the upper section, while chrysanthemums and bush clovers bloom wildly from the waist downwards.
Clusters of blue and white balloon flowers are depicted in an uncomplicated fashion.They exude a hand-drawn air, with gold pigments also used in the flower centers and leaves.
The back section features a vivid, well-balanced design of chrysanthemums, bush clovers and pampas grass. The gradations of indigo and black ink are accentuated by red and yellow shading.
A glance at the overall design reveals a blank section around the waist where the obi belt was tied. Korin’s parents ran Karigane-ya, a kimono merchant that dated back to the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573–1603). This probably explains how he was able to draw the pattern with such a clear image of how the garment would look when worn.
The Restoration of Cultural Properties
East-Asian cultural properties are often made of fragile materials like wood, paper or silk. As such, they are prone to damage from light, heat and changes of temperature. At the Tokyo National Museum, we carefully control the heat, humidity, light, and the amount of harmful chemicals in the air to create optimal conditions for the preservation of these cultural properties, thus ensuring any wear and tear is minimized. However, restoration work is necessary if an object has suffered particular damage through the passing of time.
The silk ground of the Korin Kimono is covered with snapped threads. Also noticeable are several threads that were reinforced during the last restoration. All this impedes the appreciation of the garment.
The white lining has been sewn up in a ragged manner using plain stitch.
The ground is damaged from the collar to the shoulder area.
The restoration project will take place over a period of two years from 2020. It will begin with the disassembly of the outer fabric, followed by the removal of the previous restoration, reinforcement and repair work, and the application of a new lining. It will then be returned to the Tokyo National Museum.
We are hoping to raise 15 million yen in donations to ensure the Korin Kimono can be passed down to future generations. Will you help us reach this goal?
Frequently Asked Questions/Inquiries
What Kōrin Kimono Restoration Project events will be held?
Details of various events are listed on our ‘Event Information’ page. We look forward to your participation.
Until when will you be accepting donations?
We plan to solicit donations from January 2020 to June 2022. Any change of details will be listed on our website.
How will you use the donations?
They will be used to cover the project’s restoration costs and operational expenses.
Will the garment be exhibited after the restoration?
We plan to exhibit the kimono from 2023 onwards. The finalized details will be posted our website.
How can I donate to the Kōrin Kimono Restoration Project?
Please donate on the Donation Portal Site.
Donate to the Project
Donation boxes are also installed in Tokyo National Museum at the corridor of Heiseikan Special Exhibition Hall and next to Room 11 of the Japanese Gallery (Honkan) .