「キモノとビジネス」Kimono and Business

「キモノとビジネス」Kimono and Business

Last week I was invited as a guest speaker at the Ritsumeikan University. 


さて、今回のお題ですが、先週、なんと、あの立命館大学でお話をする機会を頂いてしまったのです。以前、都内の大学でもお話をさせてもらっていますが、関西に初進出です(おおげさか! 笑)


Before my visit I was really thinking about what I should wear. Firstly I thought, it would be best to wear a new tailored and well-fitting kimono to show that I am a professional.

But then I thought… Wearing an expensive or well fitting kimono is rather easy, and since I would be speaking in front of students I felt it was more appropriate to go in a small antique kimono and up-cycled obi belt.

After all I want to inspire and show these young students that you can start kimono on a budget and that kimono does not need to be expensive and perfect all the time!
So here I am: Nervously standing on the campus!


それにしても緊張しました (汗

Ms. Mari Yoshida, associate professor of the College of Business Administration / Department of Business Administration teaches at this university in Kansai area (i.e. Kyoto/Osaka/Shiga). 

今回、お招き下さったのは、立命館大学経営学部 准教授の吉田 満梨先生(以下、「吉田先生」)です。お着物姿が本当に素敵な方です。

吉田満梨准教授と一緒に。お着物が本当に似合います。 できる限り、このゼミには着物を着てくるようにしていらっしゃるんだそうです。

Before the class we sat down for lunch (I somehow always end up eating pizza when wearing kimono haha) and had an interesting chat about the kimono economics and history.
She started wearing kimono intensively around 5 years ago. The great earthquake of March 2011 made her re-evaluate the importance of Japanese culture.

Ms. Yoshida has concluded several researches in cooperation with the government regarding the kimono market and its changes.
It was interesting to hear that kimono as a normal daily wear used to be not that expensive. Until the late 60s the average casual kimono price was about $100.
The number of kimono wearers dropped heavily from the late 60s yet, the kimono market grew steadily where kimono became a status symbol. The market shifted to a more formal wear and the price of kimono went up. Many people now bought kimono as an asset/investment for their daughters or wives.






Not long after, the kimono market kind of crashed as people stopped buying all together.
I am hoping that we all can revive the kimono industry again and bring the daily wear kimono back into our lives. 

At the university Ms. Yoshida teaches a class about kimono and business for the 3rd year in the row. The Osaka campus of the university is such a modern and nice building with attached restaurants – it looks like a great place to study! 


Kimono Seminar 着物ゼミ


The seminar class I was invited to talk is for a small group of students with interest in Japanese kimono. Around 10 students gathered (all bachelor level except for one business master course student) and also one foreign student joined. Great to know some more people from other countries are wanting to learn about kimono – just like me! 

The number of male students surprised me though, as for my last kimono speech in a Tokyo university there were almost only female students. It made me happy to see some men interested too. 


男子学生の数も意外と多いんです。以前、東京の大学でお話したときは、ほぼ女性でした。男性が着物について学んでることにも、感動!(あたし、語彙少な! 涙)


I am still new to speaking in front of people and always get quite nervous. However Ms. Yoshida arranged for a circle shaped arrangement around a table to exchange thoughts easily. Frankly, that also helped me to be less shy! 

As an introduction I was curious to know the reasoning of everyone to join this kimono class in the first place.
It was so interesting to hear different stories, so let me share some answers with you.

One male student mentioned after wearing yukata during his ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) stay he got interested and started trying to wear yukata in Summer, and wanted to learn more.
Others said they saw many foreign tourists try the rental kimono in Kyoto and got curious.



緊張の表情 (笑)

I was telling a little bit about my life story and how I got into kimono as well my motivations towards kimono. Since I heard many Japanese say they have only worn kimono for their coming of age ceremony and that they felt tight and uncomfortable, I like to emphasize that daily wear kimono is much different from formal wear.

The professor told that Coming of age and Kitsuke (kimono dressing) schools made a great impact for the sale growth. However many customers experienced “forced buying” (which destroyed the trust of customers).

Further, she analyzed it was a not too great “entry product” – which invites you to try it out. Kind of like the “Happy Meal set” of McDonalds: The company sells it with a toy for the low margin yet trying to convince the parents to buy one for kids. Which often leads to future sales or securing the kid as a future customer. 

わたしからも、なぜ日本に来たのか、どうして着物に興味をもったかなどを僭越ながらお話させて頂きました。多くの日本人の方々から、七五三を除いて、着物を着たのは成人式の時だけと聞きます。その時の感想はというと、「着物がきつかった」といったネガティブな意見がきかれます。(成人式は、とても大事な場所だったりするので、はっちゃけてもwそうそう着崩れないように、きつめに着付けをしてくれてます。これはある意味心遣いだと思います。) でも、普段着として着る着物は、そんな正式な場のお着物とは違いますよ。



Some questions from students for Anji 


  • How many kimono do you own? 何着の着物を持ってますか?
    Perhaps around 40-50? I never counted and they keep getting more haha. 
    I own a lot of vintage items, however recently try to buy some traditionally made items too, to support the craftsmen and kimono industry. 

    ハッキリいってわかりません。。が、たぶん、40から50着? ビンテージものばかりを買ってきましたが、最近は、伝統的なお着物も買わせて頂いております。(一着一着はそれほど高くなくても、トータルで、財布ピンチ)

  • How did you learn to wear kimono? 着付けはどう習いましたか?
    I started off with YouTube (a great way to learn if you are in overseas or too busy to go to a class) and private lessons from professional kimono masters several times. Not too easy to learn online sometimes because you have no one to correct you or ask. But the kimono community is very lovely so I encourage everyone to ask away! I did and still ask everything I want to know – we can all grow and learn from each other!

  • Are you interested in traditional clothes from other countries? 海外の伝統的な衣装にも興味ありますか?
    So far not much (I am still learning so much about kimono now), but I would like to learn more about traditional clothes of other countries too. 

    今はまだ着物でいっぱいいっぱいですw まだ、着物についても全くの不勉強なので、頭の余裕がないのですが、これからもっと他の国の伝統衣装にも目を向けていきたいと思っています。この国の伝統衣装はよい、すごい、やばひwなどございましたら、ぜひ、教えてくださいね!

I feel like the kimono industry needs a person like Ms. Yoshida who is an expert of business and economics. I come from an engineer background as well and enjoy creating and being passionate about the crafts and its people on the production level.

Often I feel like I need more expert advise on how to turn this passion into business too. I wish I could come back to her class and learn more about kimono economics. If you have the chance, pls take her course ;) 



Thank you very much for having me to share my opinions and thoughts on kimono with the class! It was a lot of fun and I hope that everyone will try kimono out on their own terms. 




PS: Ritsumeikan university welcomes many foreign students. The campus we visited also had a big building in the area which is the dorm for foreign students! Come and study there 😉

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