How did you spend the holidays? I love the Christmas and New Year because it is a time when friends and family gather together to have fun. For the first time, I put my Christmas trees up alone, as my children have moved out. Home-made tree decorations make me remember when they were small children. We have so many shared memories of Christmas celebrations. I had a large party with many friends and my children’s friends, who are happy to celebrate together. At Christmas and New Year it is nice to wear kimono. Christmas can be expressed through Christmas motifs or through the colours of red, green silver and gold. New Year through pine, plums and bamboo, or cranes and turtles for longevity. My lodger and I enjoyed putting together Christmas kimono outfits and wearing kimono at New Year.
Now I am looking forward to the New Year. I have a lot of ideas and plans for kimono activities this year. I am sure that I will continue to be involved with spreading kimono information, and showing people what a lovely garment kimono is to wear. This will involve giving speeches and doing talks. I will also be writing for news articles and perhaps magazines. I would like to produce another book that shows more interesting kimono styles.
I am sure that this year however, I will be spending more time in the Tango area. This is because this year the Tango Chirimen Weavers Association is celebrating its 300th anniversary. Silk has been woven in the area for over 1,300 years, and the area has a very close relationship with the Nishijin area of Kyoto, which is famous for its obi weavers. Many Nishijin obi were produced in the Tango area. Chirimen, crepe weave was transmitted from Kyoto to Tango area in around 1720, and the Tango area weavers were making a lot of it throughout the Edo period. The main street was even named Chirimen Street, and the dealers lived along it, trading the silk and taking it to Kyoto. The area is rightly proud of this long history, but they are not only relying on their inheritance.
Now fewer people wear kimono than in the past, and the move from formal wear to casual wear continues to increase worldwide. This is a great challenge to the kimono industry. Approx. 70 percent of chirimen silk for kimono is made in the Tango area. It is important for the future of kimono, to keep this traditional industry going. However, the weavers also recognize the importance of expanding their markets and so they make not only for the kimono market, but for western fashion brands, for interior and other goods too.
Silk is a superb fabric for maintaining an even temperature. It is soft and contains amino acids similar to those in the human body. This means that it not only looks great, but it feels very good on the skin too. Tango weavers are developing new techniques and new designs in order to take on the challenge of bringing Tango chirimen forward for the next 100 years. I am delighted to be a part of the promotion of Tango chirimen, for the year 2020, and I look forward to a close collaboration, and to meeting many people in the Tango area. Let’s make it a Happy New Year for Tango!