Hitomi Harama works as a Kimono and Japanese cultural specialist based in Victoria, BC, Canada. She is passionate about preserving traditional Japanese customs, traditions, and craftsmanship as well as Kimono culture, and has been presenting talks and lectures about Kimono and Japanese culture since 2009.  She has curated Kimono exhibitions to show the beauty of traditional Kimono culture and craftsmanship through the scope of Kimono (“Kimono: Japanese Culture in its Art Form” at Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 2014 and “Kimono Culture” at Nikkei National Museum, 2017). She promoted Japanese traditional performing arts and music, together with the Japanese Consulate General of Japan in Vancouver.  She helped with Japanese cultural aspects for the “Madame Butterfly” at Pacific Opera Victoria (2015) and worked as a Japanese cultural consultant for film productions, such as “The Man in the High Castle: Season 2 (Amazon Studio) in 2016 and 2017. For the last couple of years she has been helping student trips of Canadian school organizations, visiting Japan and learning about Japanese culture. Hitomi is continuing to work on connecting two cultures, Canadian and Japanese, and enriching the experience of Japanese culture for people who are interested in learning about Japan.

The Transition of Japanese Kimono Culture after the Late 19th Century

Kimono is a traditional Japanese garment with a history of over 1300 years. Immense and profound Japanese cultural code is contained in its profusion of designs, textiles, colours, and styles of Kimono. Kimono culture reached a peak in the Edo period (1603-1868). Various elaborate arts and crafts of that era are regarded today as hallmarks of Japanese culture.  Kimono culture was rendered even more intricate by the strict social rules of that time, which required the garment to signal differences of class and gender. 

Hitomi Harama will decode the complexity of kimono culture, developed over 1300 years and still respected today, with a focus on how gender and class differences were reflected in the period’s kimono attire and kimono-making industry, including how women’s labour influenced and supported Kimono industry. She will also discuss the shifts in Japanese culture caused by two major cultural transformations, namely the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912) and the Second World War period (the late 1930s to 1945), which caused the kimono-wearing tradition and kimono culture as well as gender roles to be transformed or diminished.  Her talk will reference the exhibited kimonos and photographs of “Herbert Geddes, Life in Japan, ca. 1910 (digital collection, the University of Victoria)”, which documents the changes over the last 150 years.