Mieko (Tokyo)

20171030-_DSC4067MIEKO’S PROFILE プロフィール

Photographer’s Note: Based on Mieko’s wishes, we did not photograph her face directly during this interview. She wishes for us to enjoy her kimono collection instead.

Mieko is in the over 65 age group. She is a widow and is living with one of her two sons in a small eighty-five-year-old Japanese styled house with a beautiful Japanese garden. She was born in Aichi prefecture and when she was twenty years old, she came to Tokyo on her marriage. Her husband was a business man, and she was a housewife, but when her two sons started to grow up she started to do the tea ceremony and became a tea ceremony teacher. From this time she came to wear kimono more and more. She admits that she spent a lot of her husband’s money on expensive kimono and tea vessels. She revealed, (laughing) that she always kept secrets from him about the price of kimono and never kept any of the receipts. She was a go-between for wedding ceremonies on several occasions, and so she had to have several tomesode for this purpose.
Mieko seems to like the colour purple and has a lot of purple in her collection. Recently she put a lot of kimono that she didn’t need anymore into a big box and sold them for 1,000 yen.
Interestingly, the kimono in Mieko’s collection are in different locations in the house, reflecting her ideas about the value of those kimono. The house has two tatami rooms and a hallway across the front, and then a western styled room. The larger tatami room is kept empty for the tea ceremony. One tansu with her formal kimono is in the smaller of the two tatami rooms, where the oshiire, cupboard also is. However, the tansu with her everyday wear is actually in the hallway. This tansu is in worse condition, with some insect damage, and also the bottom drawer has lost the handle, so cannot be opened. She doesn’t mind about this because she just considers these kimono as everyday wear, in her mind, not really kimono. She could not imagine why we would want to count these garments as well as the formal ones. They have no special significance for her. Her total collection is 64 kimono, over 30% are formal kimono which were all ordered from kimono stores, about 25% are summer kimono, also ordered from kimono stores, and the rest are casual kimono, mainly order-made but a small percentage are ones that her older sister did not want and passed on, that were inherited from their mother.


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