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Books About Japanese Kimono & Culture


Do you love books and want to learn more about authentic Japanese kimono? Curious to learn about Geisha? There is a great selection of books available for purchase that are dedicated to traditional Japanese culture including kimono. Below are a few books we personally recommend and have read on a variety of topics ranging from the history of kimono, to samurai, and Japanese tea ceremony. Every single one of these books we personally own and have read.

The Book Of Kimono - Review
The Book Of Kimono

The Complete Guide To Style And Wear

By Norio Yamana

ISPN 978-1-56836-473-5


The Book Of Kimono is widely regarded by many as the #1 book to own on the topic of traditional Japanese kimono. This book is ideal for all skill levels and is rich in information. In this book, you will find credible information on how to wear an authentic kimono, and also the history of Japanese kimono. This book also includes an extensive break down of kimono accessories, kinds of kimono, formalities, and more.


 When we give a kimono dressing workshop at an anime convention, or festival this is the #1 book we reference and encourage people to buy as well as we use the style of kimono dressing in this book.

The Author(s):  Norio Yamanaka was born in Shiga Prefecture in 1928. In 1964 he founded the Sodo Kimono Academy. In 1969 he was appointed the chairman of the All-Japan Kimono Consultants Association when it was formed. He has written several books about kimono. In 1980 and 1982 he performed kimono demonstrations before the United Nations.

The Social Life Of Kimono - Review
The Social Life Of Kimono

The Complete Guide To Style And Wear

By Sheila Cliffe

ISBN 978-1472585523


The Social Life Of Kimono is a fascinating read and highly recommended for those who want to learn more about the history of kimono. Even more interesting the book also discusses in depth current trends in kimono fashion and also looks to the future of kimono. This book is not an instruction or dressing guide, so much as an overarching review of their history and evolution. The pages are high quality and full color.

The Author(s): Sheila Cliffe is widely known in the international kimono community. She speaks fluent English and Japanese making her an outstanding contact and resource for those who only speak English. Sheila Cliffe is a Professor at Jumonji Gakuen Women's University, Japan. She has lectured at conferences, museums and events in Japan, England, Hawaii and Korea and she is one of the first non-native Japanese people to hold an official kimono dressing and teaching licence.

Geisha, A Life - Review
Geisha, A Life

By Mineko Iwasaki with Rande Brown

ISBN 978-0743444293

Did you enjoy the movie of Memoirs Of A Geisha? While that movie was good, it did not provide a very accurate depiction into the lives of Geisha, also known as Geiko. The movie was based partly on the life of a woman, and this book is her factual life story. This book is a non-fiction biography of a renown Geisha. The book provides powerful insights into their lives, and traditions. This book includes discussion on the kimono worn by Geisha and various styles according to rank and social calling.

The Author(s): Since the age of 5 Mineko has undergone extensive training in traditional Japanese arts. She went on to become one of the most famous Geisha of her time and faced many obstacles. Her narrative is straightforward and truthful.  A geisha "is an exquisite willow tree who bends to the service of others," she writes. "I have always been stubborn and contrary. And very, very proud."

The Nightless City Yoshiwara - Review
The Nightless City

Or The History Of The Yoshiwara Yukwaku

By J. E. De Becker

ISBN 9780804808774

Yoshiware was the most notorious of all the hanamachis in all of Japanese history. Created in the Edo period this walled in Pleasure Quarter gave rise to fascinating figures, and was home to equally captivating drama. This book is often the #1 source book used by other academic authors when writing about Japan's Red Light past. This book is uncensored, and unapologetic about the very real history of prostitution within Yoshiwara. From Oiran who inspired Kabuki performances, to the Geisha this book is full of great information.

The Author(s): Becker wrote a total of 18 books in his lifetime, with a heavy focus on Japanese history and studies. 'The Nightless City' is his most well known book. Becker himself was an American lawyer who lived in Japan.

Women Of The Pleasure Quarters - Review
Women Of The Pleasure Quarters

The Secret History Of The Geisha

By Lesley Downer

ISBN 978-0767904896


Geisha, maiko, geiko, oiran, hanamachi, misedashi, tayuu? What does it all mean? This book provides wonderful insight and factual information about the world within a hanamachi. There is more to the world of Japanese entertainment than just Geisha, and this book touches on those aspects. Various aspect of daily life and the ritual of the Geisha are addressed in this exploitative book. This book looks at the past, present, and worrisome future of the Geisha.

The Author(s): Lesley Downer is widely known in the online community for her Japanese research and studies, and is widely regarded as a respected expert. Over the course of years, and with careful social networking she has gained first-hand access into the modern world of the Geisha and from there gleamed insight that she has since shared with us. She currently lives in London.

The Kimonno Of Feisha Ichimaru - Review
The Kimono Of Geisha-Diva Ichimaru

By Barry Till, Michiko Warkentyne, Judith Patt

ISBN 978-0764935138


Dive into the world of one of the most famous Geisha ever. Through this book, you explore not only the woman but also her impressive collection of traditional Japanese kimono in full-color high-quality photos. Over the length of her career and lifetime, she collected a truly impressive selection of fine kimono. Ichimaru was best known for her voice, a renown singer. She ultimately moves from the role of a Geisha to an internationally known and acclaimed singer.

The Author(s):  After her death, Ichimaru's kimono collection was given to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. In this colorful, well-informed, and satisfying little book, three members of the gallery's curatorial staff tell lchimaru's life story and place it in the context of the floating world and the larger world of Japanese culture.

Kimono Embroidery - Review
The Fine Art Of Kimono Embroidery

By Shizuka Kusano

ISBN 978-1568364742


Looking for a book full of high-quality Japanese textile art? Check this book out. This book is packed full of full color, high res, high-quality photos of the creative works of Shizuka Kusano. This book also includes some information on techniques and the history of Japanese embroidery. In this book, there are kimono, obi, and many other bit of wafuku which have been pained takingly decorated.

The Author(s): Shizuka Kusano is one of the most admired and recognized textile artists in Japan today. With the publication of The Fine Art of Kimono Embroidery, readers in the West will come to know and appreciate her work for its great beauty and grace. Kusano's canvases are kimono, obi (the sash used to tie the kimono) and tapestries, on which she creates extraordinary compositions in brilliant color and subtle tones, with a rich contrast in textures. Her themes are drawn from Japanese poetry, literature and art, and feature such seasonal motifs as trees, flowers, birds, and streams, designs which are uniquely Japanese in sensibility and expression.

Traditioal Japanese Embroidery - Review
Traditional Japanese Embroidery

By Julia D Gray

ISBN 978-1844484225


Want to try your hand at Japanese embroidery, the kind commonly seen on kimono? Check out this small guide.  The book is spiral bound, making it possible to lay flat or fold in half while you practice the many traditional techniques featured in this book. Most of the techniques in this book you can find on modern and antique kimono alike. The pages are high quality and in ful color, providing a detailed view of the various techniques.

The Author(s): Julia D. Gray studied for nine years with Kurenai-kai, a nonprofit educational organization that teaches the art and techniques of Japanese embroidery, graduating from their center in Atlanta, Georgia. She has researched thoroughly in Japan, where she studied embroidery and allied traditional Japanese crafts such as sumi-e (ink painting), yuzen (silk painting), shibori (dyeing), and katazome (stenciling).

The Japanese Tea Ceremony - Review
The Japanese Tea Ceremony


By A. L. Sadler, Shaun McCabe, Iwasaki Satoko 

ISBN 978-4805309148


Looking for a book to explain the history of tea ceremony? This is it.  Originally published in 1933 this book has withstood the test of time and is the go-to for anyone who wishes to quickly and easily dive into the debts of Japanese Tea Ceremony. This book is full of stories that have gone on to shape tea ceremony through history, central figures, and explanations of a variety of tools and techniques used.

The Author(s): The late A. L. Sadler was a professor of oriental studies at the University of Sydney for 26 years, as well as professor of Japanese at the Royal Military College of Australia. 

Satoko Iwasaki, Japanese English language instructor. Certified English education teacher Japan, 1965, licensed interpreter and guide Ministry of Transport, 1976. Recipient Academy Research award, Toyo University, 1984. Member of Teachers English to Speakers Other Languages, Japan Society of English Usage and Style, Japan Association of College English Teachers.


Geiko & Maiko Of Kyoto - Review
Geiko & Maiko Of Kyoto

By: Robert Van Koesveld

ISBN: 978-0-9944501-0-4


This book is a must-have for anyone fascinated with Geisha, or traditional Japanese culture. This book is filled with full-color photos of the Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto, and insights into their private lives. This book also includes a few interviews and even goes so far as to talk to supporting artisans who are a part of their world.

The Author(s):  Robert Van Koesveld is a respected traveling photographer who has earned himself a reputation for taking beautiful photos.


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