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The Korin Kimono Object Outline and The Restoration of Cultural Properties

Object Outline

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.