kimono roboto in kyoto

kimono roboto in kyoto

By Patricia Belyea

KYOTO JP  I’m telling you about this amazing exhibit, Kimono Roboto, with the fastest possible typing because it opened last night and closes in nine days. Yikes! To see the show, you would have to leave immediately, fly to Japan, train to Kyoto, and get to Nijo Castle.

The high-style show of nine impeccable kimonos, made by textile masters around the country, is mounted in the Nijo Castle Kitchen—itself a wonderful old edifice.

At the center of Kimono Roberto stands a gently moving robotic mannequin dressed in a superstar kimono and highlighted with a music video featuring Björk. The exhibit’s impact is heightened further with black tatami mats and dramatic lighting.

Here are five of the kimonos, full-size and up-close:

KAGA YUZEN ICHIRO KAKIMOTO ISHIKAWA

AWA SHIJIRA ORI TOTARO NAGAO

NANIWA HONSOME YUKATA TAKAO KOMATSU, OSAKA
(This cotton kimono is chusen-dyed, just like the fabrics in Okan Arts shop!)

ARIMATSU NARUMI SHIBORI HIROMI TAKEDA, AICHI

NISHIJIN ORI HARUO MURAI, KYOTO

The show is so classy that gorgeous posters are available for visitors to pick up for free. Victoria took away a roll of four!

To use broad strokes on major cities in Japan: Kyoto is the Culture Center, Tokyo is the Fashion Center, and Osaka is the Culinary Center. So there's no better place to seek out Japanese textiles than in Kyoto, the ancient capital.

Victoria and I saw many textile treats in Kyoto including
Some-Seiryukan Museum: Dedicated to the art of Japanese textile dyeing—excellent, beautifully curated; highly recommended although small. 300¥

Kyoto Shibori Museum: Focused on the ancient art of Japanese tie dyeing—the short workshops are interactive and fun; the English video taught me a few things; very friendly. 500¥ entry fee, workshops are additional

Nishijin Textile Center: Sponsored by an alliance of 700 regional textile companies—get to one of the 6 daily kimono shows and enjoy the 10-minute performance; big shop plus a used kimono store. Free

Aizen Kobo: Recognized as an important indigo-dyeing studio—in a traditional machiya; a small family business; full of desirable products to buy! Free All in all, Kimono Roboto made our hearts beat faster as we saw the most magnificent examples of kimono. How cool that we were in town at just the right time!

Kimono Roboto
May 10 - May 20, 2018
Niji Castle, Kyoto
Sponsored by Melco


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18 comments


  • Patricia Belyea
    Mary—Traveling is a more arduous pursuit than any one wants to admit. I think armchair travel is an excellent idea! Best, PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Thank you so much, Paula. I’m glad that you enjoyed a little of Japan this spring! PB

  • PAULA MORGAN
    I was looking forward to reading of your travels, you did not disappoint!

    Thank you!!


  • Mary Porter
    Patricia, your excellent photography shows the magnificence of the Japanese culture, the loveliness of the fabrics, up close and personal, and the meticulous care and cleanliness of the areas you visit. I am jealous! At 83, I will not be following your path for a visit. I love your blog!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Mary Jo—Yes, Kyoto is such a great place to see textiles. There is always more to see each time I visit. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Stacy—You said it exactly—an amazing fusion of Japan’s past and future. Everything about the exhibit was top-notch and inspirational. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Thanks Andrea! My pleasure. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Ann—It was all serendipity. We visited Nijo Castle on April 10th and saw the big outdoor posters about the show. When we asked about it, we learned that Kimono Roboto opened that night but couldn’t make that timing. The next day we needed to leave Kyoto at noon. So we pushed ourselves to get organized and out early so we could squeeze in one more sight! As Victoria said (who is not an early riser), “It was well worth the effort.” PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Carola—For some reason, I love to go see things and meet people, and blog about it. Being a roving reporter matches my spirit. And no one can fire me because it’s my own blog! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Thanks, Sherry! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Pm—I was surprised and pleased that I was able to take photos. Taking photos is a big part of the Japanese culture today so the policy matches contemporary interests. This exhibit was definitely designed to bridge the old and the new. PB

  • Stacy Hurt
    Wow Patricia you guys were right place right time! What an amazing fusion of Japan’s past and future reflected in just five glorious works of art! How i do envy you! Thank you for sharing!

  • Andrea Bursaw
    What an amazing, generous (given the limited time you have for so many experiences) treat t!his is to read about your adventures! Thank you for all the postings from Japan…..they are exceptional.

  • Ann Darling
    Didn’t you two just luck out! Wow! And thanks for sharing!

  • Mary Jo
    These are such beautiful kimonos. Kyoto is a city of rich textures. Thank you for sharing.

  • Carola S. De Pascuale
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and all the places you havevisited

  • Sherry Massey
    Another great post. Thanks!

  • Pm Weizenbaum
    I’m so glad that you are permitted to take photos! Thank you for sharing this bounty; it’s all so gorgeous.