Kyoto Asian Studies Group June meeting

Niels  Van Steenpaal's picture

Dear colleagues,

The speaker for the June meeting of the Kyoto Asian Studies Group is Julia Sapin, who will present “Kimono and “Kimono”: Harbingers of Women’s Liberty in Europe and United States in the Early Twentieth Century” (see abstract below).


The talk will be held on Tuesday, June 7th, 18:00-20:00 Seminar Room 8 (8演習室), on the basement floor of Research Bldg. No. 2 (総合研究2号館), on the Kyoto University Main Campus (see link below for access information).




Kimono and “Kimono”: Harbingers of Women’s Liberty in Europe and United States in the Early Twentieth Century



In the second half of the nineteenth century, one could find kimono of various kinds in Europe and the United States. Historical kimono had been known in Europe since the sixteenth century. Another kind of kimono became popular around the turn of the twentieth century: Japanese department stores and silk merchants invented the export kimono, a new garment used as a dressing gown rather than as daily wear, as kimono were still used in Japan at that time. This project examines this sartorial trade, exploring the invention and export of these new kimono. This research also probes the merchandising of kimono in general in Europe and the United States, articulating how they were portrayed in their target markets. Ultimately, kimono played a role in both literally and figuratively staging increased social justice for Western women in the early twentieth century, offering at least occasional relief from the debilitating fashions of the period and lending a metaphor for a less restrictive social environment. It is also critical to consider the kimono as the symbol of cultural appropriation. As Sarah Cheang has stated regarding Chinoiserie during the same period, kimono also “constitute a fluid space of transnational and historical exchanges.” Kimono and kimono-inspired garments continue to exist in multiple environments, providing a means to articulate identity and agency for a multitude of people, and to further dialogue about the art of cultural exchange.



Julia Sapin is Professor of Art History at Western Washington University



For access information see:
(the venue is on the south side of the basement floor of the building listed on the map as nr. 34)


Please refrain from bringing food or drinks into the meeting room. Also, in order to comply with the regulations of our venue, please do not forget to wear a mask.

Contact: Niels van Steenpaal,



About the Kyoto Asian Studies Group:

The KASG is a long-standing Kyoto-based research network that hosts monthly research presentations by experts from various Asian Studies fields. Emphasizing long Q&A sessions, we aim to provide an informal atmosphere in which scholars can freely exchange ideas concerning both finished and in-progress research. Admission is free, and we always welcome new members and presenters.