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3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  289 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book Liza Dalby traces the history of the kimono - its designs, uses, aesthetics and social significance.

The colourful and stylised kimono, the national garment of Japan, expresses not only Japanese fashion and design taste but also reveals something of the soul of Japan, and is seen by many as a symbol for all that is J
Published 2001 by Vintage (first published 1993)
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LeRon Harrison
Aug 08, 2011 LeRon Harrison rated it did not like it
Shelves: japanese-culture
Here in Los Angeles you have organizations such as the Kimono Club who describe their function as displaying the wonder and beauty of kimono and Japanese culture. The displays of these organizations, however, largely involve showing the different types of kimono for women and one type of kimono for men. Some of these organizations even explain in the narration that this imbalance as just the way things are with kimono. With such a pitch why would a man (Japanese or otherwise) ever want to wear a ...more
Jul 06, 2008 Siria rated it really liked it
In probably one of the best English-language surveys of the history of the kimono, Liza Dalby is meticulous at describing the evolution of the clothing form throughout the centuries in Japan: not just the change in the physical form of the clothing, though, but also in its cultural status and symbolism. It's now a little out-of-date and could do with updating, but as an introduction to the subject in English, it's the best one you're going to find.
I'm really enjoying this book, but I'd have to say, unless you are studying textile history, it's a VERY slow read.
This is not due to boredom or lofty language, but the sheer amount of information on the subject.

Nov 21, 2008 Jenne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was at a museum in Japan that had some antique kimono, and I thought, you know, I would really like to read a book about the history and cultural meaning of kimono.

This book could not have been more exactly what I wanted if I had specially commissioned it from the author. Totally fascinating.

Maybe I'll actually try to read all of The Tale of Genji now that I know what all the seasonal color combinations mean.

Haha, just kidding. No one actually reads the whole Tale of Genji!
Dec 24, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kimono fans
Shelves: japan, non-fiction
I reference this book from time to time when planning my kimono outfits - yes I wear kimono actively and have a large collection. I did learn a lot about the culture and history of kimono, and it has some lovely information about color combinations. But, it is not so useful as a modern guide to dressing - with no kitsuke instruction.
Jul 27, 2011 Cal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, nonfiction
Wow! This book was a great resource. I did read the whole thing.. it's very readable and covers the most important sections of kimono. I'm really glad I never tried to wear them before reading this book, I probably would have made a complete fool of myself!
Kimberly Campbell
One of the smartest, most entertaining fashion history books I've ever read--and I've read a heck of a lot of fashion history books.
kirsten johnstone
Aug 04, 2008 kirsten johnstone rated it really liked it
incredible detail of the history of the japanese kimono.
my favourite part is the section on IKI - the hidden, exquisite detail. love it.
Sep 22, 2015 Goldkehlchen20 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fashion
"Kimono: Fashioning Culture" was written by Liza Dalby as a follow-up to her research about Geisha. In case you find that name sounding familiar (like I did): Liza Dalby was a consultant on the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" and was featured in the making-of.
I have to say that reading her book on Kimono did not only help me see the costume-choices of this movie in a completely different light, it also opened my eyes to the fact that my eurocentric view of the Kimono and it's cultural impact has be
Apr 07, 2011 Hirondelle rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting book, though I am biased to think because I was interested in japanese clothing. But IMO *could* have been better.

I now find myself able to read a little bit of what a kimono is saying about its wearer, and its fun. The history and sociology were also very interesting. But IMO there were some things here which impaired a bit my enjoyment:

- the Heian chapters (particularly the one on the third part about color combination) feel a bit tacked on and not strictly necessary. In fact t
I'd been looking for an affordable copy of this for years, but I kept finding used for $60+. However, while in Kyoto, I came across Random Walk, which quickly became one of my favorite bookstores (I filled up my purchase point card, but haven't been able to redeem it).

Dalby does an excellent job charing social changes starting a bit before the tenth century to the late twentieth century through her focus on the evolution of the kimono.

My one complaint is that, as it is nearly two decades old, it
Apr 01, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
This was a very interesting read, overall, although dry at points. It was fascinating to see how a traditional Chinese shirt and pants comes to be the robe we think of as Japanese. This covers the history of development, how and why women have maintained Kimono tradition while men have largely given it up, and changes in colors, designs, and ways of wearing, depending on a number of daily life factors.
The writing gets tedious in spots, but is full of detail on kimono--the history of Japanese traditional clothing, borrowing Chinese clothing styles and revising them to a Japanese style, class and gender differences, seasonal colors and patterns, and the role of geisha as fashion innovators. And there's a lot more, including color schematics showing the Heian-era layering traditions.

Good for someone who wants to get deeply into the history and meanings of kimono.
Neko Musume
This is what happens when you grab the first book you see at the library that might be about the Edo period. I don't think I wanted to know that much about kimonos. Needless to say, this book bored me. Lessons learned: sixth-grade me would have loved this. Present day me prefers her history to be about people and how they lived, not just their clothes.
I found out I knew a fair amount about kimono that I thought I did, yet at the same time, I knew considerably less that I should have. The book is well written and while parts of the history of kimono can be tedious to read through (such as the description of Heian dress), it was well worth it to trudge through to see the evolution of Japan's national dress.
Sep 22, 2012 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a very thorough book on anything you want to know about Kimonos. She covers the history, construction techniques and cultural evolution of its use as well as detailed descriptions of the different types and parts.

Very very comprehensive.
I picked this up in a park of three along with Memoirs of a Geisha (which I adored and still do) and Liza Dalby's factual account of Geisha. In no way was I disappointed, as it proved to be just as interesting - and the section on Heian kimono gave birth to my interest in that particular era.
Lucy Gibson
Mar 08, 2012 Lucy Gibson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan
Who knew a book about a type of garment could be so good??? I came to read this after discovering Liza when I read Murasaki, this book was an amazing history and anthropological insight into Kimono and japan. I only wish there were more illustrations and photos.
Sep 22, 2013 Emily rated it liked it
This is an absolutely wonderful book, but much more scholarly and detailed than I expected. If you are not a scholar, a skim-through might be enough. I wish it had photographs.
Dec 18, 2011 Jocilyn rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to get this book signed by the author. It's half-fashion analysis, half-historical analysis of wafuku in Japan. Highly recommended.
Jun 28, 2013 Commanderd rated it liked it
Good factual guide to the realm of kimono, although it really could have benefitted from some colour photographs.
Mar 05, 2013 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful book. Especially for those who enjoy aesthetics and their social meanings. As a geisha in Japan, her information comes straight from the inner sanctum. A book of deep integrity.
Aug 13, 2008 Jonquil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: costume
THE book to read if you're interested in the cultural history of kimono. Wonderful text and illustrations, including precise colors for all the Heian named clothing sets.
Rachel rated it liked it
Jun 02, 2014
Natalie Owens
Natalie Owens rated it really liked it
Feb 18, 2014
Bardmaiden rated it really liked it
Oct 10, 2012
Orla Gallagher
Orla Gallagher rated it really liked it
Jan 24, 2015
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Feb 01, 2015
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Jul 26, 2008
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With its fascinating story of characters caught up in a world they themselves don't understand, Hidden Buddhas may well be Liza Dalby's best work yet. Besides taking us on a journey through little-known corners of Japan, it offers us an engaging and believable portrait of people driven to do things they may not have imagined." --Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

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