I went to a lovely little exhibition of photos of Kyoto and Kyoto-made kimonos yesterday. It’s in a new gallery on Museum St called Mokspace, perfect if you’re on your way to the British Museum and want a little art aperitif before you go in. It’s the work of photographer Jeremy Hoare and his Japanese wife, kimono-maker Chizuko Kimura.
Jeremy is an award-winning travel and portrait photographer, television cameraman, director and producer, who’s been photographing Japan, especially Kyoto, for over twenty-five years. His photographs have appeared worldwide in newspapers, magazine, books and videos. Chizuko is an Urasenke tea master.
Jeremy told me his aim was to avoid the conventional tourist images of Kyoto – so you won’t find any pictures of the Golden Temple in his show, though a few shots of the Heian Shrine taken from interesting angles have crept in.
Instead he tries to show Kyoto as it really is, as seen through the eyes of a professional photographer who spends several months of the year in the city, living in a house close to the Philosopher’s Walk, which made me very jealous! Kyoto today is a city of culture in a different way, a place where the arts flourish and ballet groups abound.
There are some pictures of geisha and maiko (trainee geisha), which are part of the attraction of Kyoto for many visitors.
But there are also a lot which show everyday life – like this set of commuters making their way to work by various means of transport.
Chizuko showed me round the kimonos, which are mostly her own, and which are displayed alongside hand-coloured old postcards of kimono-clad women.
Kyoto is famous for its kimono textiles, and the kimonos on show demonstrate the skill of the textile artists.
Chizuko explained that the sleeves of one kimono, which had been a furisode (it literally means ‘waving sleeves’) had been shortened to make it suitable for her to use in the tea ceremony.
The kimono she wore was beautiful – I was especially taken with the obi.
The exhibition is only on for a week, until 15th June (open Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm), but they have produced a book which you can buy and the photographs are also for sale online through their website.