Kimono stylist Nobuaki Tomita is using his craft to help fix the tense diplomatic relations between Japan and China. In June last year, Tomita began organizing events in Chinese cities like Dalian and Shanghai, where Chinese women can wear a kimono and learn more about the traditional Japanese clothing. The 50-year old kimono stylist believes that this traditional clothing plays an integral part in Japanese culture, which can be used in reaching out to Chinese people.
The decreasing number of Nihongo students and tourists in Japan have also stirred Tomita to promote Japanese culture. “We need to actively introduce Japanese culture via kimono,” he asserted. On July 27 at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, Tomita was able to hold an event and convinced the Chinese audience to try on a kimono he showed them. “This kimono was worn by a Japanese actress at a film festival,” he said before offering the 50-million yen worth kimono for some of the women to try on. More than 100 Chinese women found it an offer they could not refuse. With Tomita’s dexterous hands, nine women were dressed, complete with obi, within 90 minutes. One Chinese woman was even moved to tears when she saw herself wearing a kimono. “Although I used to dislike Japan because my grandparents told me it was a bad country, now I feel I’d like to know more about Japan,” the woman said.
Tomita shared that kimono is called ‘gofuku’ because it “originated in a country named Go [Wu in Chinese] which used to be the area around Suzhou,” a city in Jiangsu Province in eastern China, while ‘fuku’ means clothes in Japanese language. The Kyoto-born designer believes that “culture has no borders” and hopes that his activities can “help Japan repay the cultural lessons China has given.”