Chicago Shimpo
Energy Filled Kimono Fashion Show and Exhibit

• An art exhibition was presented by the Kujira Japanese Art & Craft Community from August 10 to 23 at the Japan Information Center (JIC), the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago.
• The Kujira Japanese Art & Craft Community is consisted of nine Japanese artists, who want to convey Japanese textures and flavors outside of Japan. There are also three groups that belong to it.
• The Community started its activities through online, but has been making its appearance in local events in recent years.

• The Community invited Japanese culture fans to an opening reception on August 13 to treat them with an amazing show and Japanese food.
• “The g to y: Kimono & Wakomono life style creator”, a member of the Community, presented a dazzling kimono fashion show. A brilliant carpet, which was made from dozens of gorgeous obi belts, was thrown on the floor of JIC as a runway, and its presence overwhelmed the visitors.

• Girls wore colorful kimono dresses chosen by g to y and walked on the runway one after another. The audience cheered for the girls.
• The kimono choices made by g to y were beautifully dyed juban (underwear of kimono) wearing as night gowns or housedresses; a Taisho era kimono with bold flower patterns dyed with bright red, green, and yellow; an antique kimono with deep purple color, which was no longer available today; an elegant evening dress, remake from kimono; and many more.

• The members of Chicago Wahoo Club and Chicago Kimono Club joined the show in their creative ways. They presented a raffish, Osaka style kimono with gold obi belt and half-foot-high sandals; a grandma-kimono fashion, a family-kimono fashion with a festival theme; jeans patched with mother’s kimono, and many more.

• Cheri Santellano, co-owner of the Tangerine Mountain in Schaumburg, a pre-owned kimono seller, also joined the show. She started the business four years ago, and now Tangerine has the largest kimono inventory in the U.S. Her kimono was custom made, which she ordered when she visited Shikoku, Japan.

• Chicago Japanese community’s assets, kimono dresser Kaoru Sun and cosmetician Mari Bowling contributed to the brilliant show.

• g to y’s kimono fashion show ended with a great success. g is Gentaro Okura, and y is Yuko Okura, a Japanese couple. They live in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture and work for space decorations in local events, kimono remaking, crafts making with kimono fabric, organizing gardening classes and providing gardening plans for hospitals, cafes, and others. Their sense of expressing Japanese flavor was remarkable.

• Yuko Okura brought a series of arts made of fabrics. Her husband’s 95-year-old grandmother was making such arts with her friends as a hobby. It was about five years ago, the grandma said that she was going to throw them away. Yuko was alerted and thought that they were too good to abandon, so she saved them and has been waiting for an opportunity to exhibit them.
• The grandma’s arts focused on seasonal fruits, vegetables, dried fish, flowers, and anything that you could find around you. Her art works were very heartwarming and humorous. You can see the grandma’s sharp insight and creativity throughout her works.

• Noriko Aizawa Buckles, Fine art photographer, and Kumiko Higashi Wartman, Earthly Jewelry artist & rockhound, attended the opening reception and greeted the audience. Buckles was inspired by Chicago’s buildings and has created arts more than just building photos. Wartman resides in Nevada and has been fascinated by rocks in local mountains. She makes rusty, elegant jewelries with Japanese flavors.

• Other exhibitors were Miharu Shirahata, Hanko Illustrator and “Mori wa Umi no Koibito” art design contributor; Nao, CG character designer; Takahashi-chan, Illustrator; Yuichiro Onishi, Letterpress artist; and Yuko Nagamori, Painter and doll artist. Participating organizations were NPO Cambodia Cotton Club and NPO “Mori wa Umi no Koibito”, a group of oyster farmers in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture.

The members of the show pose for a commemorative photo.

The models wear beautifully dyed juban (underwear of kimono) as night gowns or housedresses.

Grandmother's art works which depict seasonal food and flowers by using leftover fabrics.

Kumiko Higashi Wartman's Earthly Jewelries