Bingata Dyed Kimono


This kimono was made for a show at Shuri Castle, Okinawa, hosted by Young Entrepreneur’s Group (Japan YEG) in 2013. Shuri Castle is a reconstructed palace, originally built in the 14th century during the Ryukyu kingdom period.

I laid out traditional patterns that kimono makers repeatedly use in their designs. Rivers and iris flowers are along the bottom, and pine tree clouds and cherry blossoms hang down from the shoulder line. I inserted balloons with strings, as though to lift the traditional plants up toward the sky between the cherry blossoms and birds.

Streamers fall down in midair from the ceiling as balloons lift upwards. Centered on the kimono, swallows chase stealth aircrafts.

This kimono was originally part of an installation and show titled Innovation for the YEG conference event at Shuri Castle. Visitors who signed up for the art tour at Shuri Castle Park would walk a set path, viewing a balloon installation along the route. The path led to the kimono piece as the finale.

With the traditional patterns combined with balloon images, the entire composition describes the experience that day of touring Shuri Castle. It also reflects the realities within the sky above Okinawa. In Okinawa, stealth aircrafts and military fighter jets fly above residential areas all the time. The balloons also refer to domestic life (as common objects for celebratory events), and they have meaning as a tool for protest. Women activists use balloons to protest against the military air base and claim the area above Okinawa for domestic life.

Photography Credit: Yoshikazu Nema

Bingata dyed linen