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, and was the main daily clothing for Japanese people until 1940.  Nowadays, Kimono is no longer worn daily in Japan, but still is a vital aspect of Japanese identity. Vast Japanese cultural matters are embedded in the various designs, textiles, colours, and styles of Kimono.  Also, traditional Japanese events and activities require the wearing of Kimono. 

The time Kimono and related Japanese culture flourished most was during the Edo-period (1603–1868), when Japan instituted isolationist foreign relations policies and had limited exchange with other countries.  It was a time of strict social order but also a time of economic prosperity, social stability, and cultural renaissance within the country. Elaborate Japanese arts and crafts, which are still considered symbols of Japanese culture today, were created during the Edo period.

Two major epochs in Japan: 1) the Meiji Restoration period (1868–1912) and 2) during and after the World War II (the late 1930s to mid 1940s and after) affected traditional Kimono wearing, particularly on gender differences, and Kimono industries.  Hitomi Harama will discuss about the gender differences of traditional Kimono Culture and valuable craftsmanship of Kimono art-works, and how they were affected by those epochs, as viewing the digital images of “Herbert Geddes,” “Life in Japan,” ca. 1910 (digital collections of University of Victoria)” and the Kimono displays of Maltwood Gallery (curated by Hitomi Harama).